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We´re in the Euro Now
Robert Shrum
The Week
October 21, 2011

The eurozone teeters on the brink of financial catastrophe, and the U.S. economy — and the 2012 election — may hang in the balance.

At NYU´s annual conference on American politics at Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy, earlier this month, the conversation veered off the usual course.

More than just the contours of America´s electoral landscape were discussed at this Florentine villa that once belonged to Francesco Sassetti, the Medici partner in what was Renaissance Europe´s dominant bank. The debate also turned to European finances, and a subject that until now would have been regarded as an inconceivable factor in our presidential election: The strength and stability of the euro and the state of the eurozone, the 17 nations that have adopted a common continental currency.

When Gordon Brown was Britain´s Chancellor of the Exchequer, he adamantly and successfully insisted that his country should not trade the pound for the euro. The United States, of course, was never to be part of the experiment. But stock markets everywhere are now sending bright red downward signals that our economy, Britain´s, and the rest of the world´s are hanging, breathless and largely powerless, on the fate of Greek finance and the interconnected crises in undercapitalized banks and overleveraged sovereign debt across Europe. Hanging in the balance, too, is U.S. politics in 2012 — because failure to contain the dangers over there could trigger a steep new downturn there, here, and globally.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has pressed the Europeans to move decisively. They´ve all but dismissed him.

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