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Euro Crisis

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EUROPEAN DEBT CRISIS – ORIGIN, CONSEQUENCES AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS
F RA N TI Š E K N E M E T H

Abstract What is the European debt crisis? As the head of the Bank of England referred to it in October 2011, it is “the most serious financial crisis at least since the 1930s, if not ever.”1 In fact, the European debt crisis is the shorthand term for the region’s struggle to pay the debts it has built up in recent decades. Five of the region’s countries – Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain – have, to varying degrees, failed to generate enough economic growth to make their ability to pay back bondholders the guarantee it’s intended to be. Although these five were seen as being the countries in immediate danger of a possible default, the crisis has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond their borders to the world as a whole.

Introduction The global economy has experienced slow growth since the U.S. financial crisis of 2008-2009, which has exposed the unsustainable fiscal policies of countries in Europe and around the globe. Greece, which spent heartily for years and failed to undertake fiscal reforms, was one of the first to feel the pinch of weaker growth. When growth slows, so do tax revenues – making high budget deficits unsustainable. Greece's economy has struggled since the country joined the euro in 2001. In 2004, it admitted its budget deficit was higher than allowed under rules of entry. By 2008 the government had narrowly passed a belt-tightening budget, designed to trim its massive national debt burden, triggering massive protests. In 2009, Greece admitted its deficit would be more than 12% of gross domestic product -- far higher than previous estimates and more than four times the requirements of entry into the eurozone. The country was hit with ratings downgrades, pushing its sovereign bonds into so-called "junk" territory. At the same…...

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