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Good Reads: A European bailout plan explained, and yoga lawsuits

Today's papers help make sense of the incomprehensible European debt crisis, and what European governments plan to do about it.

By Scott BaldaufStaff Writer / December 2, 2011



One of the biggest problems with the economic crisis that has beset the developed world over the past few years is that you have to be an expert to understand it, though you only have to have a pulse to feel its effects.

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If the house next door catches fire, we all know enough to call the fire department. Some of us will stand on the opposite side of the street and give unasked-for advice on where to point the fire hose. But when the entire financial systems of countries like Greece and Italy and Ireland simply stop functioning – and when stronger European countries like Germany and France start scurrying around pointing fingers –  there is no smoke, no flames, no fire department, and no obvious solution. All we see are people in distress, displaced from their homes, kicked out of jobs, struggling to survive. Protesters can sit outside the New York Stock Exchange for hours and days, but it isn’t always clear what should be done to fix a problem that is seems too complex to be understood.

That, however, is why we have newspapers. While most of us go about our business, newspapers can send one or a dozen people, day after day, to study a subject, pester people with questions, wait around for answers, and write a story simple enough for those of us with a pulse to understand.

In the hands of a skilled and compassionate reporter, like The Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola, certain parts of the economic crisis can be explained in ways that a range of possible solutions become more clear. In today’s Post, Mr. Faiola writes about how a few of Europe’s stronger economies are coming up with a plan to rescue the common currency called the euro from complete collapse.

The euro, which links up strong economies like France and Germany with weaker economies like Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy, has been falling in value as it becomes clearer that certain eurozone member governments (side eye at Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy) have been spending more than they take in in tax revenues. Now, according to the Post’s Faiola, France and Germany plan to set up new rules that would force such nations to “forfeit full independence over national budgets and potentially give their neighbors the right to slap penalties on big spenders.”

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