Europe's Debt Crisis May Saddle Germany The huge national debts of Spain, Portugal, Italy and especially Greece are dragging down the Euro; and affecting U.S. stock prices. Shares fell sharply on Wall Street Monday — in large part because of concerns about Europe's debt crisis. The jitters are even affecting Europe's strongest economy Germany, which might find itself expected to bail out its weaker Euro partners.
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Europe's Debt Crisis May Saddle Germany

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Europe's Debt Crisis May Saddle Germany

Europe's Debt Crisis May Saddle Germany

Europe's Debt Crisis May Saddle Germany

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The huge national debts of Spain, Portugal, Italy and especially Greece are dragging down the Euro; and affecting U.S. stock prices. Shares fell sharply on Wall Street Monday — in large part because of concerns about Europe's debt crisis. The jitters are even affecting Europe's strongest economy Germany, which might find itself expected to bail out its weaker Euro partners.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This week, the nations of Europe face the consequences of taking on too much debt. A handful of European countries ran up big budget deficits.

INSKEEP: And this, in turn, has affected other nations. In a global economy, everything is connected, and that is especially true in Europe where 16 nations share a common currency.

MONTAGNE: Portugal, Italy and Spain all have fiscal problems. Greece is overloaded with debt.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eric Westervelt reports from Berlin.

ERIC WESTERVELT: First the good news: A modest appreciation of the Euro's value could, in the short term, help Germany's export-dependent economy. But Christian Dreger with the German Institute for Economic Research says there is some fear that if the Greek government doesn't keep to the very tough austerity measures it agreed with the European Commission, it could spark a more dangerous plunge in the value of the euro.

CHRISTIAN DREGER: A debt crisis in Greece could be a financial crisis, as well. So many German banks are engaged in Greece, for example, and this would probably lead to a further crisis in the euro area.

WESTERVELT: He says there are small nations in the zone who've been getting a free ride, not making tough economic decisions, knowing the euro currency will be held up by the strength of the German, French and Dutch economies. He hopes the crisis spurs both political and fiscal reforms.

MARKUS KERBER: The sooner the European community and the sooner the European Monetary Union becomes conscious of its free-riding behavior over a relatively small state, the better it is, you know, to reform the mechanism. So we restrict the real danger to a tumbling down of the walls of Greece.

WESTERVELT: Eric Westervelt, NPR News, Berlin.

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