Continued from page 1

Some say that expecting a third bailout to fix Greece’s problems would also be wishful thinking. Mr. Fichtner is skeptical that another bailout would solve the country’s financial woes.

Greece is still insolvent,” Mr. Fichtner said. “So another bailout won’t help them with their debt problems, but a haircut would.”

A “haircut” would involve forgiving part of Greece’s debt, which would result in losses for taxpayers and bondholders in the eurozone and worldwide. Or Germany could restructure the debt by lowering the interest rates and extending the time Greece has to pay back the money.

But either would be a tough sell for Mrs. Merkel.

“I don’t think policymakers will be able to explain to the public that we have an actually loss of money,” Mr. Fichtner said. “Previously, they were saying, ‘We are just lending money to Greece, but we will get it back.’”

Without a haircut or some sort of debt restructuring, Greece is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, Mr. Fichtner said.

“I would expect that the third bailout would probably not be the last one,” he added.

It’s something that Mrs. Merkel would rather not think about at the moment as she campaigns for her third term.

“You can sell these tough decisions after you have won the elections and are in office again,” said Annette Heuser, executive director of the Washington office at the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German think tank. “That’s the window of opportunity, and there is no doubt that Merkel will use it.”