Worries in Euro Zone Shift to Italy From Spain
Concerns grew on Monday that Italy could be the next victim of Europe’s financial infection, leading nervous investors to sell Italian stocks and bonds and damping euphoria over a weekend deal to bail out Spain’s banks.
Italian officials privately expressed concern that the 100 billion euros, or $125 billion, that Europe pledged to Spanish banks might not stop the troubles from spreading.
Italy’s main stock index was Europe’s worst performer on Monday, a day when United States stocks were also dragged down and investors flocked yet again to the safe harbor of American and German government bonds. Even the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, a European technocrat who came to office after the euro crisis forced out Silvio Berlusconi last November, has begun to acknowledge the dangers posed to his country’s 1.56-trillion-euro economy ($1.95 trillion).
The main fear is that Italy cannot grow its way out of a recession fast enough to pay a mountainous national debt. Other concerns include the fact that Italy, with the third-largest euro zone economy after those of Germany and France, will have to shoulder a large portion of the bailout bill even as it grapples with its own sharp economic downturn.