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Europe is having problems again. This time, the problems have different roots than in 2010 and 2011. For the past two years, investors have feared a contagion of default, triggered by a loss of liquidity and a panic among bankers and other bond investors, something akin to what happened in the United States during the subprime crisis. The European Central Bank’s decision, late last year, to pour liquidity into markets has largely, if not completely, relieved such concerns. The more recent investor fears have attached themselves to the continent’s seemingly single-minded emphasis on fiscal austerity. Because such policies threaten to impose a vicious cycle on weaker nations, one in which budget restraint retards growth, creating still larger deficits that force still more restraint, investors have begun to wonder if these nations can ever reach solvency. The ECB cannot help in this regard. To answer these fears, Europe needs to develop a growth agenda to parallel its otherwise essential austerity measures.

The recession into which Europe already seems to have sunk offers a grim background for such concerns and considerations. Recent reports show unemployment in the eurozone approaching 11% of the workforce, even in the so-called stronger countries of the north. Spain records five million registered unemployed, almost 15% of the country’s working-age population. Industrial production has contracted across the continent, even in the supposedly more vibrant north. Official forecasts call for real gross domestic product to fall more than 4% this year in Greece, 1% in both Italy and Spain, and 3.5% in Portugal. And these figures surely carry the optimistic biases of all official forecasts.

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