Italy Becomes Next Focus Of Europe Debt Worries

Posted July 11th, 2011 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Global stock prices fell sharply Monday in part because investors grew more worried that the European debt crisis might hit Italy next.

In comparison to the size of its economy, Italy’s debt is second only to Greece in Europe. Investors were apparently shaken by political bickering in Italy’s government over a proposed austerity budget that would cut its debt.

EU finance ministers were meeting Monday in Brussels to discuss the debt crisis.

So far, Ireland, Portugal and Greece have received emergency loans from other European Union nations, and top financial officials are gathered in Brussels to continue work on a second bailout for Greece.

Bailing out Italy would be more difficult because it has Europe’s third-largest economy and is far bigger than the countries that have received aid so far.

Italian financial regulators have imposed tighter rules governing “short selling,” which is essentially a bet by investors that a stock or bond is likely to decline in value. Short selling by speculators has been blamed for making some financial crises worse. The temporary requirement for short sellers to divulge more information about their holdings is intended to reduce that possibility.