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Europe debt crisis spreads to stronger economies

Yesterday, investors began dumping bonds, even in stronger economies like Austria and Finland. The sell-off shows a need for bolder solutions to the European debt crisis, say some.

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"There's still an element of panic, partly about the integrity of the European banking system – which isn't just about Italy and Greece – but also because investors are not certain these new governments will be able to solve the problem," he says.

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Mr. Mangus, the UBS economist, suggests bolder measures are necessary to calm investors. Such measures could include: the ECB providing a so-called "backstop" guarantee, including by acting as lender of last resort to Italy – a creditor to be counted on even if the country defaulted on its debts; German agreement on the issuing of shared eurobonds, and "hard and fast" proposals on eurozone fiscal integration.

EU turns to Asian investors for help

This week's big bond sell-off comes just days after analysts raised worries that the EU bailout fund, known as the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), was failing to woo sufficient interest from Asian investors. The EFSF is charged with issuing bonds to fund the "bailout  countries" of Ireland, Portugal, and Greece.
Speaking on a trip to Beijing on Oct. 28, EFSF chief executive Klaus Regling said China was a "good, loyal investor" in eurozone bonds but his upbeat account of Chinese appetite for European debt now seems to have been overstated.
"If you were an Asian sovereign wealth fund, would you put money into any European investment other than in Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria?" asks Irish economist Brian M. Lucey.
Mr. Lucey, based at Trinity College Dublin, says the €3 billion EFSF auction of 10-year bonds in support of Ireland, held on Nov. 7, was met with tepid demand, indicating a loss of faith in the EU's ability to put a lid on the crisis.

"That's great lads, only another 997 billion to go," he says, referring to a €1 trillion goal envisioned for the bailout fund. "On average, 40 percent of EFSF funds raised have been from Asian investors, but the last sale saw only 20 percent."

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