October 19, 2020

Merkel, Sarkozy, Monti meet to try to stem crisis

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STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The role of the European Central Bank in stemming Europe’s crippling debt crisis will likely feature large in discussions later Thursday between the leaders of Germany, France and Italy.

It’s the first time Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Monti, is meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy since he took charge last week in the wake of growing market concerns over the size of his country’s debts.

The meeting in Strasbourg, France comes amid signs that even Germany and France — the eurozone’s two biggest economies — are not immune from the debt crisis that’s already seen three relatively small countries bailed out.

A failed German bond auction on Wednesday and another warning that France may see its cherished triple A credit rating downgraded, form the uncomfortable backdrop to the discussions between the three leaders.

Though German and French borrowing rates are well below the seven percent level that eventually forced Greece, Ireland and Portugal into seeking financial bailouts, they have been rising markedly in recent days. Germany’s ten-year yield has ratcheted up around 0.25 percentage point over the past 24 hours since the auction to stand at 2.14 percent, while France’s has been rising steadily in recent weeks to 3.6 percent on Thursday.

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