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Europe In Crisis

A continent in trouble, its financial peril and the potential for spillover for the world economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, shake hands after their joint press conference at the Elysee Palace, Tuesday Aug. 16, 2011. (AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, shake hands after their joint press conference at the Elysee Palace, Tuesday Aug. 16, 2011. (AP)

Europe got the modern era going, with exploration and trade and colonialism and big war. For many, it set the standard for 20th century social welfare.

And then for continental coordination, with the E.U. and the euro. But right now, Europe is in big trouble. A whole string of European nations have debt they can’t handle. Mighty Germany is not sure it wants to bail them out.

The whole European project is under acute strain. It could get closer. It could blow up. Markets are in a lather. The spillover could hit you.

This hour On Point: Europe in trouble, and what it means.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Nicholas Kulish, Berlin bureau chief for the New York Times.

Dominique Moïsi, a founder and senior advisor at the Ilfri (the French Institute for International Relations) and author of “The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World.”

Beppe Severgnini, Italian journalist, writer and columnist and author of “Mamma mia! Berlusconi’s Italy Explained for Posterity and Friends Abroad.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “There is no one whose thoughts European officials would rather read than Chancellor Angela Merkel, who meets Tuesday at the Élysée Palace with France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, as they struggle to find a lasting solution to the European debt crisis.”

Washington Post “Are panicked investors creating their own panic? Rumors that France would follow the United States in losing its AAA credit rating, for instance, triggered a massive sell-off in Paris on Wednesday, with negative sentiment weighing on markets Thursday before a late rally. This week, investors have dumped French bank stocks in a frenzy of selling not seen since the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.”

More

Dominique Moisi: Humiliation, Hope, & Fear

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  • Corey1293

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  • Corey1293

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  • Ellen Dibble

    In reading the Publishers Weekly notes about guest Moisi’s book The Geopolitics of Emotion linked above, I noted Moisi  “plumbs the roots of AsiaÖs culture of hope, the historical humiliation feeding Islamic extremism and the long-dominant emotions in the West: a fear of the other, confusion about national identity and an anxiety to maintain global relevance. ”  So I want to show Biden, in part on our “national identity,” and he said at start and finish about global student exchanges as lifeblood to ending misconceptions, culture to culture:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/21/remarks-vice-president-sichuan-university: From Biden’s speech to students in Chengdu at the above link:  (He says our diversity, openness, traditions of challenging norms, resilience, and by the way that our politicians know we owe something like eleven times more of our national debt to Americans than to China, and that we look to China when confronting our 40-million baby-boom considering their one child to 4 grandparents policy):”I also have confidence in the fundamentals of our economy.  Vice President Xi said it best I think when he told a group of Chinese and American business leaders with whom we met the day  before yesterday, and I quote him, he said, “the U.S. economy is highly resilient and has a strong capacity to repair itself.”  He is right.  I believe America is even better equipped to compete in the economy of the future than it was of the economy of the past.  In the 20th century, the wealth of nation was primarily measured by the abundance of its natural resources, the expanse of its landmass, the size of its population and the potency of its army.  But I believe in the 21st century, the true wealth of a nation will be found in the creative minds of its people and their ability to innovate — to develop the technologies that will not only spawn new products, but create and awaken entire new industries.  The United States is hardwired for innovation.  It’s part of our DNA from our earliest days.  It has enabled generation after generation of Americans to give life to world-changing ideas — from the cotton gin, to the airplane, to the microchip, to the Internet, to the world-leading companies like General Electric, Ford, Microsoft and Google.  And I could go on and on.”These accomplishments were made possible not because there’s anything unique about an American.  It’s hard to define what an American is.  Shortly, 50 percent of the American population — less than 50 percent will be of European stock.  So we are the most — we are an incredibly heterogeneous nation.  That’s part of our strength.  That’s part of the boundless capacity of the American people.  But it’s also because of the enduring strength of our political and economic system and the way we educate our children, a system that welcomes immigrants from across the globe who enrich our national fabric and revitalize our diverse multi-ethnic society.  And I would point out, we are still the destination where most people in the world seek to come.  People usually don’t seek to come to a nation in decline.”A system that trains students not merely to learn and accept established orthodoxy, but to challenge orthodoxy, challenge their professors, challenge the ideas put forward to them, encourage individual thought and innovation; a system that not only tolerates free expression and vigorous debate, including between citizens and their government, but celebrates and promotes those exchanges; a system in which the rule of law protects private property, provides a predictable investment climate, and ensures accountability for the poor and wealthy alike; and a system with universities that remain — notwithstanding, and this is a great university — the ultimate destination for scholars from around the world.”  

    • Rsokol

      The link you provide doesn’t work.

      • Ellen Dibble

        If you go to Whitehouse.gov and choose the speeches tab, you’ll find it. 

  • Ed

    Europe has turned away from its Judeo-Christian beliefs and morality: disasater. And the demographics are all wrong as a result of abortion.

    • Anonymous

      Earth has too many people as it is – we cannot support ever increasing populations or it will fail – if you want babies YOU can go right ahead and have them – don’t tell other how to live their lives – its really NOYB.

      • Winston Smith

        People should stand up against injustice.  And murder of the innocent unborn is as great an injustice as exists or has ever existed.  I was always taught that two wrongs do not make a right. So the wrong out of wedlock pregnancies resulting from our slide into immorality and godliness is not solved by committing murder, another wrong.  The answer is to abstain from sexual relations until marriage (heterosexual, of course) and that to have the children that you can responsibly care for and raise to be productive, law-biding, responsible citizens who are not on the public dole watching stupid game shows and reality tv shows all day long.

        • Anonymous

          Are married heterosexual couples permitted birth control in order to only “have the children that you can responsibly care for and raise”? 

          • Winston Smith

            In my opinion, yes.

          • Dpweber83

            Why?  How is contraception different than abortion?  Why do married couples get to use contraception when unmarried couples don’t?

            And, once again, what does *any* of this have to do with the current sovereign debt crisis in the Euro zone?

            -dan
            Boston, MA

          • Winston Smith

            I was simply responding to a post.  I love seeing flaming liberals get in a tizzy!

          • TFRX

            And I love righties call lefties out as “in a tizzy” in a medium stripped of all body language and vocal inflection.

            Says more about you than about them.

        • Anonymous

          Stand against Injustice -  hmmmmm………I would consider that treating others with disrepect and intolerance because of their orientation or social status – you cannot force other to conform to your ideas of “acceptable” behavior by marginalizing them – you cannot dictate your “definition” of morals on others based on a religion that they do not acribe to -our world will not become a better place for all until Women are treated with repect and have control of their reproductive rights instead of being considered incubators for the male race – your bigotry, intolerence, mysogyny, and immorality show through your posts. 

          • Terry Tree Tree

            HYPOCRACY allows them to pick and choose, and change their mind, when the ‘religious’ find themselves in the same circumstances, which is then ‘Different’.

        • Dpweber83

          Abortion isn’t murder: you know that, I know that.  http://www.slate.com/id/2219537/

          More to the point, what on Earth does any of this have to do with sovereign debt in the Euro zone?

          -dan
          Boston, MA

        • AC

          I have a quick question for Winston – have you ever borrowed money from a friend or a bank? Taken a loan?
          Just wondering….

          • Winston Smith

            I personally avoid debt as much as possible.  I have taken out very few loans, and have never taken a loan out that I couldn’t comfortably pay back.  My personal goal has always been to pay the loan back more quickly that the implicit amortization schedule baked into the loan terms.  I do not believe in “kicking the can down the road”, which is all that the Democratic, Republican, and Progressive Parties are capable of.

          • AC

            The reason I asked this, though as an agnostic – I admit I am the farthest thing from a biblical scholar, is that I was under the impression that usury is against Christian (& Judeo-Christian) tenet. To borrow or even lend money is a no-no, esp. when interest gets into the picture.
            Therein lays the problem when using religion in an economic argument today. It is very difficult to find a true ‘conservative’ that offers the perspective of a true religious conservative. I don’t want to insult you by pointing out that you fall into that category, but no matter the speed of which you repay the loans, you do.
            Also, it would do to remember that a good Christian practices hospitality. If you are so against many of the social programs taken on by various governments, will you be willing and able to replace them? There are always people in need, if you cannot do this, you should support programs that do, or at least understand their purpose. If you feel reform is needed, that is another issue, but please be precise with a solution and less emphasis on your criticism’s.
            That doesn’t mean what you have to say shouldn’t be said, but your tone should be less aggressive & more understanding. You cannot fall back on a righteous platform when it is convenient for you, and then ignore another when it is inconvenient for you. If you wonder why people jeer, it is for this reason. Please be kinder, more Christian, if you will.

        • mary elizabeth

          Where are the fathers of these children needing society ‘s support to  thrive.  One hears about the immorality of the mother, but little about the men/boys  involved.
          When society, including the Catholic Church who never mentions the negligent fathers,  persues these men for child support  with strict diligence, the problem will persist. 
          Such men may co-erce women into abortion, but they should be required to pay and be present or no abortion.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          This works so well, especially for the Roman Child-Molesting Church!!   Do you advocate we all follow their example, or can I remain a man that does not molest children?  Many other churches have committed similiar crimes.  Will they ever lead by EXAMPLE??

      • Freeman

        It is MB if you ” Expect” me to PAY to raise them and pay to send them to college, and SUPPORT them when they can’t get a job and pay to heal them when they get sick. If you CAN’T afford and care for them, DON’T HAVE THEM period.

        • Anonymous

          Isn’t abortion a method that prevents you from paying for them?

          • Freeman

            MURDER

          • Sam Walworth

            If you think a Soul is a Soul, and life begins at conception, then Capital Punishment is also a Murder?

        • Anonymous

          OK what is MB?
          I prefer women to have a choice on the decisions to carry a fetus to full-term or not. Their body/Their choice – too many seem to think woman should be forced to have children but don’t consider (or care about) the long term effects on society - maybe if our society didn’t portray woman as only sexual beings with no value or purpose but to attend to men’s needs and pop out children willy-nilly, we all might have better lives. Girls need to be made aware of their worth as fellow humans rather than men’s playthings. I don’t think of abortion as birth-control, but it should be available. So you tell women their worth is their bodies and uterus, take away birth-control and outlaw abortion and you get out of control population growth and high poverty levels. Another question: Just where are the men in this equation? Women don’t get themselves pregnant.

          • Freeman

            MB ( NOYB ) = None of your business ( ? ); MB = my business.
            Oh Dude your crossing over that BIG Religious line. Simply ” I don’t argue religion”. Take a GOOD look at the WORLD mess and soon to come to America. Find a nice quiet place and dig your hole.

          • Anonymous

            What??? your post make no sense – and NOT A DUDE!

          • Terry Tree Tree

            I have asked the Pro-Life(?) militants, that got in my face one (1) question, and have shut them ALL down, so far.   “How many seriously handicapped, minority children, that are the results of rape, are YOU raising?”  I then ask them to put their money where their mouth is, before bringing this up again, as they have just told me they DON’T REALLY CARE, JUST WANT TO DICTATE TO SOMEONE!!   I can enjoy sex as much as any other man, without worrying about starting babies.  My ex had so much trouble having our children, that I had a doctor stop the sperm supply.

    • Anonymous

      The more religious countries are the ones with the bigger economic problems. 

      Also, why did god send a torrential storm that forced the Pope to abandon his speech?  According to an earlier post of yours, “Same sex marriage becomes legal in NY this weekend. Yesterday and today are the hottest two days in 50 years, the radio said. A message there?” — What message did he have with the rain?

      • Rsokol

        This whole conversation about the role of religions in all of that isn’t seriously happening, or is it? It would mean that in the US the page has been turned on the age enlightenment and reason.

        • Freeman

          Come on; IT HAS TO. Read the History Books; more EVIDENCE ” on the way”. Are you prepared ?

          • Rsokol

            Pardon me, I didn’t read Nostradamus et.al. and therefore surrender.

    • Chris B

      The demographics are as they are because of the huge number of “guest workers” the European nations allowed in over the years without considering the long term consequences.

      • Dpweber83

        Which nation didn’t consider the long term consequences?  I think most of them considered the consequences and saw vigorous internal debates.

    • Dpweber83

      “Europe has turned away from its Judeo-Christian beliefs and morality”

      The Renaissance-era popes called, they want their talking point back.

      -dan
      Boston, MA

    • Anonymous

      Talk about moral bankruptcy, what a load of cow dung.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Led by the Roman Child-molesting Church, and ALL its other crimes!!!

  • Winston Smith

    Hmmm.  High taxes…extensive socialism…national health care….strong  unions.  And bankruptcy on a national scale in several countries.  But that is what the USA needs more of???  Duh.

    • Rsokol

      You need to look at the details in each European country, some programs work in some coutries better than in others, it’s a matter of mentalities and cultural dispositions have been in the making for thousands of years. Sweeping generalizations like extensive socialsim (where is that happening in Europe, by the way?), national health care etc. are only ideological projections fueled by the class warfare that has been ignited in the US.

      • Anonymous

         Thank you for posting this and I agree with your points. However this chap is not interested in facts. He’s interested in hyperbolic generalizations.

  • Anonymous

    I suspect there will be a lot of people bashing Europe and social programs such as national health care and the like. Interesting thing is for most of the recession Germany had growth while the US was for the most part bordering on being stagnant. The problems confronting the EU are huge and in my view it’s about the EU and not about how Germany or France have decent health care systems. You have all these sovereign nations that share a single currency but they are not under a federal system as we are. One thing that’s interesting to note countries such as the UK, Sweden, Denmark, and most of the newer Eastern European members have not adopted the euro. I wonder how this effects the economic stability of the EU. One of the problems seems to be that the wealthy countries such as Germany and France are now on line to bail out countries such as Greece. The other thing not being discussed is how the speculators have effected the economies of countries such as Portugal and Spain. One thing is certain the EU is a mess and one wonders if it will survive.

  • twenty-niner

    Problem front and center is the failed experiment called the Euro, which is severely overvalued for countries like Greece and Spain and undervalued for big exporters, essentially Germany. And of the central-bank balloon squeezing over the last two years has left the Swiss franc basically at parity with the Euro and the yen at an all-time high against the dollar, with the BOJ and SNB now intervening at a frenetic pace. Bottom line, at this point, no country in the world wants a strong currency right now. The US, with the biggest printing press of them all, is the odds-on favorite to win that fight.

    • Freeman

      Problem front and center is the failed experiment called
       Globalization

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

        Globalization isn’t an experiment, it’s an inevitability. Advances in technology have eliminated a lot of the physical distance barriers and barriers to communication between people on the planet, so commerce on a global level will happen regardless of regulations. If we all do not try to evolve to accomodate globalization we will all suffer. 

        If the Euro is indeed a failed experiment, then we should learn from it. The environment set up by the EU for the Euro zone members is flawed. It’s easy enough to recognize, so let’s work on how to fix it instead of continuing to point out what is already knows.

        • Freeman

          Sorry; the way I view conditions in “totality” ( economics,population,evironment etc etc etc ) I do not share your optimism. As a senior who has lived through many changes, it is MY observation that ” BIGGER” is NOT always better.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

            Bigger may not always be better, but it’s not always worse either. Either way, growth may not be under anyone’s direct control. 

            Change is the only constant. Either we adapt to it, or we get left behind. “Better” depends on what you measure by. If all you look for is the negative, then that is all you’re going to see. I’m not saying one should wear rose colored glasses, but at least be open to the good things that come with growth and change. And, if it really concerns you, then play an active role in shaping what happens. Sitting around and complaining doesn’t accomplish anything.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QME6C6XTBAYFEJP2GYDH3VQEMU Beat

    The prediction of the French man -global economic collapse and anarchy because of world economic collapse, hunger and changing world climate and political instability in the muslim nations. The media will contribute to the demise of mankind.

    • Mia

      This is exactly it!  Then he goes and says that the predominant emotion in the West is fear, contrasted with the emotion of hope in the East.  Of course we’re afraid!  With guys like this constantly predicting the sky is falling and the world is ending, can you be surprised?  What are they listening to in the media?

      By the way, what the guy says about the Erasmus kids is true! 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QME6C6XTBAYFEJP2GYDH3VQEMU Beat

        Studied Nostradamus and the Maya for almost 10 years. I am still puzzled.

  • Mia

    My two cents, I think this is hyperbole. 

  • Anonymous

    Everytime I hear commentators say that Europe has NO IDEA what to do I laugh to myself a bit…  It is as if they have forgotten how the states of the United States of America were formed together as one nation.  It’s stubborn nationalistic pride that leaves all but Germany unnecessarily insignificant in the market.  They would be better off joining together and the US is a good model to follow. 

    • Freeman Kirby

      I might “beg a difference” with THIS idea ? Equality ( or inequality) on just about EVERY level;haven;t you been watching the news ? Dysfunctional government most of the world is laughing at.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Europe today is like the United States from the period of the Articles of Confederation till the Civil War–individual states going their own ways without coordination.  If a European Union is to survive, it must become more a federal republic than a confederation.

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    The French gentleman is correct. It is time for us to face the fact that we have a smaller population, dwindling resources and our “power” to bully the world is waning. This is a good thing. Might does not, nor has it ever made right.

    One answer I think which could help us all financially is if our leader came and spoke to us directly and instituted an “Invest in America” program similar to the War Bonds we used to finance WWII. I just found a pack of matches in my hoard which says “DAMN THE TORPEDOES  FULL SPEED AHEAD”, on the backside it reminds us to “REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR”  “Buy DEFENSE BONDS…STAMPS Now”   We are going to have to save ourselves.  The President needs to implement an “Invest in Ameirca” Drive that allows us to invest directly in U.S Treasury Bonds in single dollar increments. It would reawaken our power and our belief in ourselves. Other countries should/could do the same. Investment would have to be allowed without fees. 

    • Anonymous

      Europe is quite content to let us spend our resources to police the world for them.  How much have we spent to secure their oil in Libya?

  • Bauersal

    Do the statements of Germany during their E coli outbreak another indication of the lack of solidarity for the EU? Their very rapid accusation of products from Spain seemed to be so to me.

  • Kopnitsk

    We have a problem with our idea of wealth.   The belief that wealth should reside in the individual is the real problem.   But it takes the system for the individual to appropriate that wealth.   Whats more it takes all of us working together to create that wealth.    Unless we look at the economy like the human body where blood is money and every cell (one) gets what they need just because they are part of the body not because they are “productive”.  All individuals would be productive if the political and economic leadership were to decide that nations wealth was more important than wealthy individuals.      So sharing that wealth is the only way Europe will or any other nation survive.  What has happened in Europe is trying to make a nation out of many nations with out the creating the same culture throughout the region.    

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QME6C6XTBAYFEJP2GYDH3VQEMU Beat

      Wealth is not the problem the people who has the wealth are the problems.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      When you start talking about wealth and sharing wealth, you need to consider fairness, and in order to talk in a meaningful way about fairness, you need to consider value. 

      Currently, the tenets of capitalism in which the western economies have been built upon rely on individual agents to react to environmental conditions to find an optimal solution to economic questions. The result has been individual agents optimizing for their own monetary gain at the expense of other agents and the economy as a whole. 

      There are two main flaws in this. The first is that we all have a skewed idea of value. We look at the accumulation of money as a proxy to the accumulation of value without fully understanding the ties between money and the value of the goods and services that the money can be exchanged for.

      The second is that the economic environment as it exists in the western world is a classic prisoners dilemma situation where if all parties work together, then everyone will gain, but if one person defects, then their individual gain is more than what they would achieve through full cooperation but the gains as a whole are greatly diminished. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QME6C6XTBAYFEJP2GYDH3VQEMU Beat

    The collapse of the dollar is already happening. We are just waiting for the US Government to declare the 2nd recession or double dip recession. When it’s official we should see the stock market change drastically for the worst or better.

    Let us wait and see.

    • Roy Mac

      2nd?  The 1st never ended, regardless of what the economists said; they are merely using an outdated measure.

  • Efortune357

    Perhaps the economic monetary debt model is outdated?  A Resource Based Economic model deserves an in depth look at.  Youtube “Zeitgeist Moving Forward”

    • Efortune357

      or this TED talk “An Intro to a Resource Based Economy”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mkRFCtl2MI

  • twenty-niner

    Europe in crisis? How about the whole shooting match?

    B of A credit default swaps (remember the fall of 2008?) are back to 2008 levels and now Goldman Sachs CEO hires a high-profile defense attorney:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/22/us-goldman-blankfein-idUSTRE77L5VK20110822

    The market is like OJ waiting for his verdict, which will come when Bernanke delivers his Jackson Hole speech. The 10-yr is pricing a deflationary depression while gold (now touching 1900) is pricing hyper-inflation. Maybe The Bernank will figure out how to give us both.

  • Jeff

    Merkel seems to be in the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma position.  Right now, she is far and away the most important person in Europe, almost the continental arbiter, and she likes it.  If she agrees to an ECB EuroBond or some other reasonable proposal to resolve the crisis, she will be diminished in power.  Germany will remain the dominant European economy but will have to share decision-making authority, and Frau Nein could be ignored, outvoted, circumvented.  But if she doesn’t agree to these proposals, the Euro could collapse, the continent fragment, Germany be reduced to a middle-sized world power, even as world demand staggers into the swamps and a global depression descends.  She has to settle for less than she’s got (at the moment), or risk losing everything.  That’s the Dilemma.  It takes brains to see one’s way out of this, also courage.  I guess we’ll see if she’s got it.

  • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

    So, we are to gather that the countries in the biggest trouble are those with a “me me me” culture that pride themselves on not paying taxes and thereby eschewing taking care of each other. Sounds like America to me.The caller who asked about a “crisis of capitalism” probably wasn’t asking the right people. But I’m with her: capitalism is largely successful because it is just an excuse either for outright slavery (as in America in the 18th and 19th centuries) or a very slightly mitigated form of slavery (as in China today and, increasingly, here in deregulated America). It is an immoral system and only gets support because the Haves are so damned good at brainwashing the Have-Nots into believing that the system works for them.

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    Maybe it can look like whatever everyone decides to make it look like.

  • Kanear

    I remember how proud we were that we ended the “cold war” because we had a stronger economy than the Soviet Union – we out priced them – they couldn’t afford to maintain the fire power.  Is that what China, India, Brazil are doing to us now?  Waiting for us (USA and Europe) to collapse and a whole new world economy to be born?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

      We won the cold war in part because of government investment in infrastructure as well as technological R&D that made its way into technology that drove invention and creation of new cutting edge opportunities for business. 
      For better or worse, that type of government involvement is no longer politically viable. 

  • Geoff Dutton

    Tom didn’t handle the last caller very well. She tried to make the point that the Euro debt crisis is a crisis of contemporary capitalism itself. Tom immediately demurred and brought up the Chinese model, as if it represents one for Western capitalism to consider adopting. He seemed very uncomfortable with entertaining the notion that capitalism itself has nearly brought down Europe – and America – and might be really sick. I am sorry to receive this impression from him at the same time his commentators totally avoided talking about how private markets precipitated this financial debacle. We need a broader perspective in this conversation such as the caller tried to inject, and Tom deflected it.

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  • Anonymous

    I listened to the show.  Nobody made the point that the bailout of countries is really the bailout of the banks.  The money taxpayers are expected to provide the so-called profligate nations would not go to those nations, but would be passed right back to the banks.  This whole calamity regarding Europe’s identity is rooted in banks making bad bets and expecting the governments to cover them.  Too big to fail.

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