Wednesday, September 14, 2011

International alarm over euro zone crisis grows

International alarm over Europe's debt crisis hit new heights on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama pressing the bloc's big countries to show leadership as talk of a Greek default escalated and markets heaped pressure on Italy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to quash talk of an imminent Greek default or exit from the euro zone, but confusion over whether she would issue a joint statement on Greece with French President Sarkozy sent markets gyrating up and then down.

Confidence in the 17-nation currency area was further dented when Italy was forced to pay the highest interest rates since joining the euro in 1999 to sell 5-year bonds.

"I think there is a possibility, if the wrong steps are taken, that the system goes off the rails," Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Italian carmaker Fiat, told reporters in Frankfurt when asked if the euro's survival was at risk. more