FRANKFURT, GERMANY -- In a Europe troubled by uncertainties over the crisis in the Persian Gulf, a sense of imminent disaster in Eastern Europe and the potential collapse of the Soviet Union, Germany is an oasis of confidence -- seemingly untouched by pessimism elsewhere.

Karl Otto Poehl, in some ways the world's most important central banker, has a big smile on his face. "We are enjoying a strong boom, and we still have -- touch wood -- reasonable price performance," said the president of the Bundesbank. "The economic situation is so good, we have no reason to complain."

The latest figures bear him out. In the third quarter, the German gross domestic product zoomed at an annual rate of 8 percent, 5.5 percentage points ahead of the pace last year at this time. Poehl said that for the year as a whole, the real German growth rate should be about 4.5 percent, compared with 4 percent last year.

And inflation, even counting oil prices, is only 3.1 percent. Without oil, it is 2.5 percent.

Of course, much of the phenomenal growth comes from what Poehl joshingly calls a "Keynesian deficit program" -- the enormous and unexpectedly costly effort to refurbish and rebuild the old German Democratic Republic. The deputy president of the Bundesbank, Helmut Schlesinger, estimates the red ink at $80 billion this year and $100 billion next year.

Yet, at a conference last week at the Aspen Institute in Berlin, some Americans raised the argument that Bonn is not contributing a fair share to the costs of containing Saddam Hussein and is risking future U.S. isolationism.

Jeffrey E. Garten, a member of the Blackstone Group, an investment banking firm in New York, told the Aspen meeting that "Germany and Japan are welshing on their global responsibilities and are interested only in themselves."

The German response among private bankers here and in official quarters in Bonn is twofold. First, Germany has many other problems on its platter, including unification. And second, for 45 years the Germans -- like the Japanese -- have been told by the winning powers after World War II that they were not to remilitarize.

Dietrich von Kiaw, in charge of community affairs at the Foreign Ministry in Bonn, brushes Garten's challenge aside as extremist and isolationist. "What we Germans are doing is the hard work of helping to bring democracy and free markets to Europe," von Kiaw said. "We are actually carrying a burden much larger than any other country on the continent. And yes, we are doing it for ourselves, but also for Europe and the West, including the United States."

Nonetheless, von Kiaw predicted, the German government will move after Sunday's election to respond in part to American pressure. One possibility is authorization of German troops to be part of a subsequent United Nations occupying force.

The financial costs of unification have clearly overwhelmed and, for the moment, overheated the German economy. Poehl is quick to concede that one reason German inflation has nevertheless been so well- contained is that the German mark has increased in value against the dollar, making oil and other imports relatively cheaper. Pressure on him from Daimler-Benz AG and a few other German manufacturers, which see themselves at a disadvantage in the American market, is not overwhelming.

Overall, given the boom, German industry can hardly complain. And so long as the dollar does no worse than stay in a narrow range around 1.50 marks, the Bundesbank does not see the need for intervention in foreign-exchange markets or, indeed, for any emergency session of the Group of Seven industrial nations.

Poehl is annoyed that French Finance Minister Pierre Beregovoy publicly called for a G-7 meeting to keep the dollar from a further decline. Poehl likes the traditional central- banker style of conducting such negotiations privately.

"The markets are remaining calm if you take into account what's been happening in the last few months," he said.

Poehl said that "for the first time I can recall, we have the interest rate differential working against the dollar" -- that is, dollar interest rates are lower than the mark or yen interest rates.

"It's a rare experience," he said. "I don't know what that will mean, but certainly it's not good for the dollar, that's for sure. But I think that most of that is already {reflected} in the current rate, because the current rate is very stable."

The dollar surged at the end of the week after the United Nations authorized the use of force in the Persian Gulf.

So at the moment, Poehl genuinely does not see why the G-7 should be called into session -- an attitude that matches the view at the U.S. Treasury. Moreover, Poehl does not join in the typical cluck-clucking in Europe over the supposed decline of the U.S. economy.

"The United States is still a very strong country and will remain a strong country," Poehl said. "Who else could have put 400,000 troops in the gulf?"