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Six years ago, the German federal government gave the job of managing the federal debt to the newly created German Finance Agency. The move fundamentally altered the way Germany manages its debt - rather than being managed by civil servants, the debt is now managed by a separate company with considerable freedom of action, albeit one owned by and responsible to the finance ministry.

Gerhard Schleif has been managing director of the German Finance Agency since 2001. He argues: "The advantage o

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