And in one bound she was transformed. For Angela Merkel, the days of being lampooned as the archetypal Swabian housewife keeping tight control over the purse strings are over. Now, courtesy of a €130bn (£116bn) stimulus package, she is the spend, spend, spend chancellor.
Make no mistake, much of the past criticism of Germany’s frugal approach to government spending and budget deficits was justified. Saving some money for a rainy day is one thing but running surpluses worth 8% of national output was unnecessary and harmful to the global economy.
Nobody can accuse Europe’s biggest economy of stinting on this occasion. The package was bigger than expected and, at about 4% of GDP, doubles the size of Germany’s tax and spending stimulus since the start of the crisis.
Germany showed the rest of Europe what was needed to limit the spread of the virus: a decentralised testing programme; a manufacturing sector capable of producing medical equipment quickly; and a political system that prizes results over grandstanding. Now it is showing other countries how to do the recovery.
It is not just a question of money, important though that is. The package is a well-crafted mixture of a short-term spending boost, targeted support for those parts of the economy that need it and measures that will help lay the foundations for long-term sustainable growth.
There is a time limited cut in VAT lasting from July until the end of the year, which should persuade German consumers to spend some of the euros they have accumulated during lockdown. There is recognition of the pressure on families, with a payment of €300 per child, extra incentives to buy electric cars, and grants worth €25bn for small businesses in those sectors, such as hospitality, that will take longest to recover from lockdown restrictions.
All that will ensure Germany will be one of the first countries to get output back to its pre-crisis levels. Yet, the package also included €50bn for investment programmes, with a focus on making the transition to a greener economy.
All this is a bit of a contrast to the UK experience. So far, Rishi Sunak has administered large amounts of expensive sticking plaster to the economy but not much more. As he contemplates options for a summer mini-budget, the chancellor could do worse than to study what the Germans have come up with. A lot worse, in fact.