Debt Crisis Spreads To Some European Economies
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
BLOCK: International stock markets saw more turmoil today as investors worried about U.S. growth and European debt. The leaders of France, Germany and Spain called each other from their vacation homes to discuss the growing crisis in the Euro zone.
BLOCK: As NPR's Eric Westervelt reports, the debt crisis is now spreading to some of Europe's major economies. And that has stirred criticism that their leaders are doing too little too slowly.
ERIC WESTERVELT: On July 21st, countries which use the euro agreed to new aid for debt- ravaged Greece and to give the bloc's temporary rescue fund expanded powers, including greater flexibility to intervene in bond markets. Today, European economics commissioner Olli Rehn conceded investors have not been satisfied by the latest attempt to tackle Europe's sovereign debt crisis.
OLLI REHN: We have had difficulties in communicating the agreement to the markets and to the citizens. There were expectations in financial markets that all elements could be implemented straightaway. While these expectations were clearly unrealistic, markets have nevertheless been disappointed.
WESTERVELT: Lannoo says that's a mistake.
KAREL LANNOO: The risk is that with a narrow interpretation of the mandate of the ECB, we risk not seeing the true problems in the market and we risk an unraveling of the monetary union, or of the eurozone.
WESTERVELT: Lannoo says while the markets may be over-reacting, a continued lack of decisive leadership by the ECB and euro zone heads of state may quickly become too costly for Europe.
LANNOO: What we see now in Spain and Italy is probably a liquidity problem of the state, which may rapidly become - like we've seen clearly in Greece and Ireland and Portugal - a solvency problem. I mean, there's a panic in the markets which at some stage a public authority must stop.
WESTERVELT: Peter Vanden Houte, a senior economist at ING, says the only nation that could foster leadership on that issue is Germany, Europe's largest economy.
PETER VANDEN HOUTE: The only trouble is that the Germans are very much against this. And so we will need Angela Merkel taking a decision on that in the coming months. But still, it will be a very difficult process. It can take yet another year before this is decided. And so, in the meantime, we need some action and therefore, I think that the ECB should probably do something that the Fed has been doing, which is coming with a lot of money in the markets to deter speculation.
WESTERVELT: Eric Westervelt, NPR News, Berlin.
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