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Eurozone crisis still in turmoil

Stephen Beard Aug 5, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: The proximate cause of the all the market angst yesterday — that’s proximate, not only, cause — was yet more worries about the debt crisis in Europe. Spain and Italy in particular. So you’ll be glad to know Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s on the case. Berlusconi said today the Group of 7 finance ministers will meet soon-ish to talk things over.

There was a conference call this morning between the leaders of Germany, France and Spain on the topic du jour. President Obama spoke to German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy about the matter again today.

But Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reports from London the end of the Eurozone crisis is still nowhere in sight.


Stephen Beard: In every financial panic, political leaders feel the need to soothe investors’ shattered nerves. That task fell today to a man once described as “reassuringly boring:” the Finnish politician and European Economics Commissioner Ollie Rehn.

Ollie Rehn: I would in fact encourage now everybody to stay calm and breathe deeply and see that the economic recovery is going on.

But Ollie’s placid Nordic manner could not disguise the fraying tempers among Europe’s political elite. The German economy minister dismissed a speech by Europe’s top bureaucrat as “frantic ranting.” And the Italian authorities rather overreacted to the crisis; they raided the offices of the two main ratings agencies that had been critical of Italian government bonds.

Julian Pendock is with Senhouse Capital.

Julian Pendock: So now you have politicians running around shooting the messengers, which is never something which gives the market much confidence.

But what’s really undermining market faith in the Eurozone, says economist Raoul Ruparel, is the conviction that Europe is not prepared to bail out Italy with its $2.5 trillion of public debt.

Raoul Ruparel: There’s no way that any German government or even most of the northern European governments could sell that to their electorates. And there would be widespread political unrest within Europe.

There is no obvious easy way out of the mess. One analyst has compared the Eurozone to Mr. Micawber — the Dickens character was heavily in debt but always hoped that “something would turn up.” In his case, it did. But he was a work of fiction.

In London, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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