The financial crisis which has been pulling eurozone nations such as Greece and Portugal into a downward spiral of high interest rates on government debt and inability to repay loans has rippled throughout many medium-sized European nations as well. Belgium and Spain are facing growing problems that may require a bailout from the European economic community. The European Union's rationale for bailing out member nations has been that it was to maintain the stability of the single currency, the euro, and to keep free trade within the community.
Six years ago the Romanian Institute for Marketing and Polling reported that 64% of the people felt that their nation was moving in the right direction, toward free-market democracy. Yet last September another survey showed that 49% of Romanians, almost half, felt that life was better for them under communism.
Internet whistleblower website WikiLeaks plans to release information on tax evasion by the rich and famous after obtaining two disks of information from former Cayman Islands branch chief of Swiss banking firm Julius Baer Bank & Trust Company Ltd. The Cayman Islands is a well-known haven for investments because the Caribbean island nation has no income, capital gains, profit, or estate taxes in addition to highly secretive banking laws.
On Jan. 16, the news syndicate Breitbart reported that the U.S. embassy in Geneva has been conducting illegal surveillance on Swiss territory. In 2006 and 2007 U.S. missions in Geneva and Bern had requested protection of their buildings through surveillance programs, but the requests were denied.
In defiance of all logic, the eurozone weathered a week of harrowing instability this past week, with Portugal, Spain, and Italy managing to persuade the bond markets that their sovereign debt is still worth the risk. Portugal was the primary focus of concern in this latest iteration of European economic upheaval, with speculation rife that the Iberian nation would be forced to accept an international bailout along the lines of what Greece and Ireland have already received. The Portuguese government spent the week leading up to last Wednesday’s successful auction of government bonds denying that Portugal needed outside assistance to solve its debt problem, and Wednesday’s results appeared to vindicate those claims.