EU Opens Way for Easier Budgets

Finance ministers respond to backlash against austerity.

European finance ministers opened the way for looser budget policies after a backlash against austerity thrust Italy into political limbo and shattered months of relative stability in European markets.

Italy’s deadlocked election, France’s refusal to make deeper budget cuts and protests against the shrinking of the welfare state across southern Europe escalated the rebellion against the German-led prescription for fighting the debt crisis.

Financial Crisis

Italy’s political stalemate -- with a quarter of the vote in the Feb. 24-25 election going to a protest movement headed by Beppe Grillo, a former comedian -- dramatized the stakes in the recession-hit European economy that has yet to shake off the financial crisis.

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