Geithner Gives Europe Vote of Confidence

Posted December 7th, 2011 at 6:20 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says he is confident the European Union will find its way out of a debt crisis that has sent jitters through financial markets across the globe.

Geithner spoke after meeting with French Finance Minister Francois Baroin in Paris Wednesday. It is his latest stop on a tour intended to get European leaders to take decisive action.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled a plan Monday for tighter controls over the spending of individual governments in the 17-nation eurozone. But the plan has met resistance from Britain, which does not use the common European currency euro.

Credit agency Standard & Poor’s this week put 15 of the 17 nations that use the euro, including economic powerhouses Germany and France, on a negative credit watch. It also warned it may downgrade the top rating of the bailout fund for Europe’s debt-ridden countries, such as Greece.

The credit rating agency has criticized European officials for “a very slow and reluctant response” to the continent’s debt crisis. It has also expressed skepticism that European leaders would act at a summit later this week to resolve the two-year debt contagion.

If the credit rating for the $591 billion bailout fund is cut, it would boost the borrowing costs to assist debt-ridden countries. Greece, Ireland and Portugal have already needed international assistance and analysts fear that Italy and Spain, with the continent’s third and fourth largest economies, also might need help.

The Greek parliament Tuesday approved a budget for 2012 full of spending cuts and other austerity measures – part of an effort to get the next installment of an international bailout loan.