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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

Eurozone debt crisis is back with a vengeance

Stephen Beard Aug 2, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: Heidi mentioned our regularly scheduled economic programming. Before we got all caught up with ourselves, Europe was the long-running soap opera. And sure enough, now that we’ve put off our problems for a couple of months, the Eurozone debt crisis moves once more into the breach.

From the European Desk in London, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard brings us up to date.


Stephen Beard: Ten days ago, European leaders bailed out Greece for a second time and proudly unveiled a package of measures to stop the European debt crisis in its tracks. Ten days on, says economist Simon Tilford, the package is unraveling.

Simon Tilford: A very, very serious situation developing in the Eurozone. Contagion to Spain and Italy is gathering pace.

Investors dumped Spanish and Italian government bonds, driving interest rates so high the two governments will struggle to service their debt. Spain and Italy may need to be bailed out just like Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

But that could mean the end of the Eurozone.

Tilford: If Spain and Italy find themselves in a similar position to Ireland, Greece or Portugal, then it’s game over for the Euro, really.

Many believe Spain and Italy are too big to be bailed out. But Holger Schmieding of the German bank Behrenberg says that, as with the U.S. and its debt ceiling, Europe will find a way.

Holger Schmieding: The Euro is seen as the ultimate achievement of 60 years of European integration, and I do believe that the major countries will go to great lengths to keep that together.

He believes the European Central Bank — backed by the might of the German economy — may step in and buy up Spanish and Italian government bonds. But Tim Leunig of the London School of Economics has his doubts.

Tim Leunig: The question is: do Germans want to guarantee Greek, Italian and Spanish debt? I don’t see any evidence of that.

Having settled their debt crisis, Americans may be tempted to feel a little smug. They shouldn’t. If the Euro falls apart, every corner of the global economy would feel the effects.

In London, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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