With America’s debt-ceiling crisis resolved, the time is ripe for a brand-new set of financial calamities on the other side of the Atlantic. The “rescue” plan for Greece put forth by European leaders on July 22 is unraveling with surprising speed. The relatively narrow scope of the solution seems to underscore how little political will there is to resolve the underlying issues with the European economy.
Those structural problems are now wreaking new havoc. On Tuesday, the Italian government called an emergency meeting and Spain’s prime minister canceled his vacation because the crisis is getting worse in bigger countries than Greece. Even France has the jitters, now needing to pay a 0.75 percentage point premium on its debt over Germany’s. That’s still a small number, but it’s the highest spread since the introduction of the euro. The premium reflects, in other words, a growing sense that the euro project may collapse.
The problem is that Europe’s leaders looked at a situation driven by inherent flaws in the architecture and responded with solutions narrowly tailored to Greece’s unusual problems.