Pressure mounts on European leaders to solve crisis by December

Marketplace Staff Nov 3, 2011

Pressure mounts on European leaders to solve crisis by December

Marketplace Staff Nov 3, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: Leaders from the Group of 20 leading economies are meeting today in France. Greece’s finance minister was there for a short time, but was called back to Athens for an emergency meeting with his prime minister — reportedly to talk more about a referendum scheduled in Greece to accept or decline European help for its debt crisis.

President Obama is in France — in Cannes. And in talks with the French President Nikolas Sarkozy today, the president said Europe needs to do more.

Barack Obama: Here at the G20, we’re going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented.

The G20 summit, of course, was supposed to be the deadline for some sort of solution to Europe’s debt mess. But the deadline has slipped once again, leaving more uncertainty in the world marketplace.

Our Europe correspondent Stephen Beard is with us live with the latest now. Hi Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Hello Steve.

Chiotakis: Why do these deadlines keep slipping?

Beard: By now, we shouldn’t be too surprised, I suppose. The Europeans have held 14 summits to solve the crisis since it began. The new deadline is December 4th — that’s the date when the Greek prime minister says he’ll hold his referendum on Greece’s second bailout package.

And Steve, this does actually look like the deadline now, because money talks. Germany and France told Papandreou in Cannes yesterday: you don’t get any more bailout cash unless you get the backing of the Greek people.

So, December 4th. If the Greeks vote no, they’ll likely default and possibly crash out of the eurozone, with unpredictable consequences for the global economy.

Chiotakis: December 4th, though, is still a month away, Stephen. Can the global economy wait that long?

Beard: Well, perhaps not. Steve Barrow, a currency strategist with Standard Bank, says contagion — that is, the problem spreading — contagion is already upon us.

Steve Barrow: Even if Greece can sort itself out, other countries now are really being dragged into the crisis to an extent that is almost looking beyond repair.

Italy is the real worry now. The cost of borrowing there has just gone up again. The Italian government has just failed to get a package of economic reforms through parliament. And the Chinese have just said they’re not putting anymore money into the eurozone bailout fund until the dust settles. So the deadline for this crisis may not be Dec 4th after all — it may be a lot sooner.

Chiotakis: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard, our European correspondent reporting from London. Stephen, thanks.

Beard: OK, Steve.

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