11/07/11: New Focus in Europe as Italy’s Debt Crisis Takes Center Stage

Tristan Cooper looked around the small apartment that looked out over the harbour of Lasithi, in the town of Crete. He had been living in Greece for the past month now and it was starting to feel like home. His landlord was a little old woman who lived in an apartment on the first floor. He lived on the second floor in a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony outside where he often sat to write his articles. He was a consultant for Winston Press in Ontario, Canada. He’d been following the debt crisis in Europe and had moved here to get to know the people, the culture, and the lay of the land so he could understand the background of the area better. The apartment was within walking distance to the beach and the harbour, where cafés, taverns and village shops lined the streets. Even though he was there on business, he felt like he was on vacation.

The sun was setting in Greece, which meant it was one o’clock in Ontario. Tristan reached for the phone and dialed the number of Winston Press. He’d been in contact with Josh Canyon throughout his stay there, working with him on the articles each day. Josh answered on the first ring.

“Canyon.”

“Hey man, it’s Tristan. Any snow there yet?” He was so grateful to be avoiding the threat of Canadian winters. If he was being honest with himself, he half hoped he’d have a reason to stay in Greece throughout December and maybe even January if he was lucky.

“Ha ha,” Josh laughed sarcastically. “It’s a gorgeous day here actually. I know, it’s nothing compared to your beach house.”

“Beach apartment,” Tristan corrected him with a laugh, “but yeah, it’s pretty nice here. I’ve got information for you, partner.”

“Great, give it to me!”

“First things first,” Tristan lounged back in the recliner with his laptop resting in his lap. “How are things with you and Amy? Are you a couple yet?”

“You’ll be getting an invite to the wedding in about six to eight months.”

“Seriously?”

“I’m kidding, Tristan,” Josh laughed again. “We are dating though.”

“Congratulations! I had a pretty great time with Adonia last night.”

“You’ve been there for a month and you already have a girlfriend? What’d she say when you told her how far away you’re from?”

“The Greeks have a saying, my friend. Time has turns, and the year has weeks.” Rita, his landlord, had told him that one last night as she’d hosted him for dinner.

“What?”

“It means that one should have patience and to not let time go by faster than it has to. Enjoy things in the moment, you know?”

“Yeah, I get it,” Josh replied. “So talk to me about Berlusconi. I guess that whole thing is overshadowing what’s happening in Greece, huh?”

“Well yeah, the Italian government is borrowing way more than its done in the last ten years,” Tristan read from his screen. “The yield on Italian 10-year bonds rose from 6.37% to a euro-era high of 6.64% before retreating to 6.5%. Italy is probably going to become the next victim of this debt crisis, Josh.”

“They’re the eurozone’s third biggest economy too,” Josh pointed out. “If Europe can’t handle their huge bailout needs, that could drag down the global economy, right?”

“Yes,” Tristan replied. “It could break up the 17-nation eurozone. People want Berlusconi to stand down so they can get a new leader in there to fix things.”

“So what does that mean? Early elections?”

“It could. Or they might name a government of tecnocrats rather than politicians. The guy people are talking about most to lead that group is Mario Monti. He was the former European Union competition commissioner who once blocked General Electric’s takeover of Honeywell.”

“These rumors about Berlusconi are pretty crazy too.”

“They’re talking sex scandals, criminal prosecutions, and even legislative priorities that the opposition thinks are aimed at protecting Berlusconi’s own business interests instead of those of the country.” Tristan shifted gears and asked, “Have you heard about Greece’s prime minister standing down?”

“He did, eh? I guess we saw that coming. It’s not like he’s very well-thought of there either.”

“He sealed a deal with the opposition to form a new coalition government to approve an EU-IMF bailout package. Once the vote has been passed, it will open the way for Greece to receive the next 8 billion euro tranche of bailout loans.”

“Sounds like things are moving along, at least,” Josh commented. “There’s a big meeting tomorrow, right?”

“Yep. Fiance ministers from the EU are meeting. They’ve agreed in principle to boost the European Financial Stability Facility from its current 440 billion euros to 1 trillion euros, in order to tackle the debt problems in Italy and Spain. Last week the world leaders from the G20 countries agreed to boot the resources available to the International Monetary Fund, but gave no detail on plans for the eurozone.”

“Sounds good,” Josh replied. “Keep me posted tomorrow, okay? It should be an interesting day.”

“Yeah, no kidding. Good to talk to you as always!” Tristan sat forward. “I’ll email you the rest of the stuff I have here so you can have some more info. Most of its on Greece but there’s some from Italy as well. Adonia’s grandfather lives in Rome so he’s been a wealth of information.”

“You really do know how to meet the right people for the job, don’t you?” Josh laughed.

“It’s all about connections in this business!” Tristan smiled, thinking of the beautiful woman he was about to see in less than an hour. They had plans to walk around the harbour and enjoy the moonlight shining on the water. Tristan had to believe that this was one of the most romantic places on earth.

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow then,” Josh said at length. “Don’t forget to get some sleep tonight.”

“Yes mom,” Tristan joked and when Josh laughed they hung up the phone.

Tristan carried his laptop back inside the apartment and went to his room to change for the evening. He couldn’t wait to dance under the stars again with a woman whom had already captured his heart.

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