Kai Ryssdal: Given the way the markets went today — there were gains all over the world, not just here — this would’ve been an easy day to forget the whole European thing is even happening. Sadly, it still is, which brings us squarely to our next episode of What’s up, Europe? So today to Madrid, Spain, and our man in Europe Stephen Beard. He has been out and about doing some reporting for us. Hello Stephen.
Stephen Beard: Hello Kai.
Ryssdal: So you have been doing, you have been working on a series that will air next week. It’s called “A man walks into a bar,” which we’ll explain later. But tell us, first of all, where you’ve been.
Beard: I’ve been, it is in fact sort of an extended pub crawl of the eurozone. I’ve been to Ireland, Athens, Paris, Berlin, and here I am now in Madrid.
Ryssdal: Give me a sense, would you, of the varying moods. This is a tricky question to ask: Who’s most depressed and who’s least depressed?
Beard: I would say the most depressed are in Ireland and Greece. They are the most worried, the unhappiest, they’ve suffered the most probably in terms of austerity. In France, much less so. People have not seen very high rates of unemployment there yet. But the most relaxed so far have been the Germans.
Ryssdal: No come on, really?
Beard: In spite of their existential angst, they have so far been largely untouched by the economic downturn. Interestingly, the Germans I met didn’t seem particularly worried about the glacially slow progress in tackling this crisis. As it was explained to me, the Germans actually rather like their politics to be slow moving. For obvious historical reasons, they don’t like their leaders to stand up and tell the rest of Europe what to do.
Ryssdal: Yeah, that’s a whole different interview. But is there a sense, Stephen, that this crisis has gotten people’s attention?
Beard: Yes, but only in the sense that they are — in varying degrees — worried about a deteriorating economic situation. I’ve met very few people on this trip who seriously believe that this is it, that the euro could implode.
Ryssdal: Stephen Beard, he’s in Madrid today. He will be back with us on Monday for the first part of his series, “A man walks into a bar.” Looking forward to it, Stephen. Take care of yourself.
Beard: OK. Thanks a lot, Kai.
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