MarketBite

Euro in danger, Europe races for debt solution

Posted on: November 29, 2011


A man checks stock indexes on a screen of a bank in Milan, Italy, Monday, Nov. 28, Photo By Luca Bruno, 16 hrs ago. AP

European leaders rushed Monday to stop a rampaging debt crisis that threatened to shatter their 12-year-old experiment in a common currency and devastate the world economy as a result.

One proposal gaining prominence would have countries cede some control over their budgets to a central European authority. In a measure of how rapidly the peril has grown, that idea would have been unthinkable even three months ago.

World stock markets, glimpsing hope that Europe might finally be shocked into stronger action, staged a big rally. The Dow Jones industrial average in New York rose almost 300 points. In France, stocks rose 5 percent, the most in a month.

More relevant to the crisis, borrowing costs for European nations stabilized. They had risen alarmingly in recent weeks — in Greece, then in Italy and Spain, then across the continent, including in Germany, the strongest economy in Europe.

The yields on benchmark bonds issued by Italy and Germany rose, but only by hundredths of a percentage point. The yield fell 0.1 percentage point on bonds of France, 0.14 points for those of Spain and 0.22 points for Belgium.

Allowing a central European authority to have some control over the budgets of sovereign nations would create a fiscal union in Europe in addition to the monetary union of the 17 countries that share the euro currency.

Some analysts have said that would be a leap toward creating a United States of Europe. More delicately, it would force the nations of Europe to swallow their national pride, cede some sovereignty and agree to strengthen ties with their neighbors rather than fleeing the euro union during the crisis.

The common currency has the problem that the monetary policy is joint, but the fiscal policy is not,” Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said in a meeting with foreign reporters in Berlin.

The monetary union has existed since the euro was created in 1999, but the European Union, which includes the 17 euro nations and 10 others that use their own currencies, has no central authority over taxing and spending.

Countries like Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy overspent wildly for years and racked up annual budget deficits that have left them with monstrous debt. Italy holds €1.9 trillion in debt, or 120 percent of the size of its economy.

via AP.

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