Euro zone eyes more nimble approach to crisis

Luke Baker, Reuters, 24.01.2011

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By adopting a more nuanced approach to their debt crisis, euro zone leaders may be on the verge of stemming the contagion that only weeks ago seemed set to overwhelm the bloc by enveloping Portugal and its larger neighbour Spain.

Throughout the latter half of 2010, the bloc's only real answer to the crisis was the 750 billion euro ($1,017 billion) rescue facility it cobbled together under acute duress following its shock bailout of Greece in May. [...]

Analysts who have closely followed the debt crisis over the past year believe policymakers are having more success at getting ahead of the market, and believe Germany has adopted a more pragmatic approach that has helped settle agitation.

"The fact that there is more calm on the markets is from the EU and euro zone perspective a good thing," Janis Emmanouilidis, a senior analyst at European Policy Centre, told Reuters.

"If in a few weeks' time, at the March summit, they can come up with some concrete proposals (on the EFSF), that could be the positive blow that gets them ahead of the markets," he said.

But he and others caution that this is just the short-term approach. The fundamental issue underpinning the crisis is the need to restructure the economies of weaker euro zone countries, making them more competitive, raising growth, tackling unemployment and reining in excessive spending. [...]

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