August 5th, 2011
12:13 PM GMT
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As global markets head south again, questions are being asked about the whereabouts of Europe’s policymakers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on a hiking holiday in Italy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a three-week holiday in the French Riviera, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is heading for his villa outside Milan, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron is keeping a low profile on holiday in Tuscany, according to The Times.

Those who cut vacations short include EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, who is heading back to Brussels, and Spain’s Prime Minister Zapatero who rushed back to Madrid on Thursday, and Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.

Kathyrn Hopkins, writing in The Times, says: “Evidence of political paralysis has dogged the crisis from the beginning and with many eurozone leaders enjoying their summer holidays, the markets have become increasingly nervous that the situation will worsen.”

What do you think - should Europe’s leaders cut short their holidays? Can politicians do anything to stop the contagion anyway, or would their return further spook the markets and make matters worse?

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Paul Johnston, PhD Economics


    August 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  2. dracula

    Instead of asking yourself where the hell are the European leaders, maybe you should ask your half-brain US government zombies WTF they achieved in the last 15 years?! How these zombies stand in face of the biggest debt of the world? Do they really know that printing US $ sheet papers will first kill their own people and then the rest of the world? DO THEY?!

    August 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  3. atinks

    Europ is now history, their ruling is over thanks to God. It deos not matter whether their gangs of bandits including Sarkozy, David Cameron, The infamous Italian prime minister stop taking vacation, they should be gone forever. Now we wellcome China as the world legitimate superpower. Unlike europ who rape and looted its colonies of Africa and Asia to fuel its decaying economy, China is a well respected nation that deserves its current advance and world economic ranking. The world is better off without the West.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  4. Sean Rutter

    I don't think that our leaders being back home would make much difference to the crisis itself, but it may relieve some of the doubts. Perhaps they should cut their holiday's short just to restore some confidence. It would probably be enough for Finance Ministers to return home to take the helm on this one.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  5. peter warren

    I think it would be a GREAT idea if the press were to knock off doing its very best to create a crisis and figuring out new ways to scare the devil out of everybody and make everything as much worse as possible. This "crisis" ought to be called the Press Crisis. They made it.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  6. Europeandude

    It's a job and it has its benefits. Vacation is one of them. Unlike some countries where the leaders are treated "god-like", over here they have to find normal jobs when they finish their terms in office. If they can't find one, they may queue up at the unemployment office. The reason you don't see much of that is because most of them were already rich and don't need unemployment benefits.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  7. Bob

    The situation in Europe is only going to get worse. With Italy's debt-to-GDP percentage at 120%, it is difficult to see how either 1) Berlusconi can cut spending and deal with the debt (especially considering the country's abysmal growth level) or 2) if Italian politicians enact tough austerity measures, how the Italian populus won't riot. I have been warning folks about Italy since 2008 and unfortunately I believe we haven't even begun to see the worse of it yet. When Italy goes south, the Eurozone will be in a state of crisis never seen before and France will pave the way for breaking with the Euro and the Euro-pact.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  8. cynicat_Brit

    "Europ is now history, their ruling is over thanks to God."

    My advice to you? Give up the crack .....

    August 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  9. bob denver

    Answering to ATINKS. Extreme positions like yours are not welcomed on this planet. The West has developped a lot of wonderfull things in this world; they also made a lot of mistakes. China is indeed an important actor, but all his neighbours dislike them. China has it´s own big problems and don´t think they will solve them quickly, or ever. And as far as your observation on the West, be sure that if the US is pushed too far, that will be the next big war, the nukes. By the way, I am not american. Bottom line; we have no choice today but working together.

    August 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  10. Alexios Antypas

    Definitely just the finance ministers should step up now, be seen and discuss strategy. The major decisions coming up, however, are political, and on these there is as yet no leadership at all, so there's no point in heads of government cutting short their vacations now. The main question is whether Europe can pull together and form a closer union and start to marry fiscal and monetary policy, and so far the answer is no. Unless that happens, of course contagion will spread. It's like a prairie fire with vast expanses of tall, dry grass and a drought with no rain. The drought is the lack of vision among Europe's leading politicians. Basically, unless Merkel and Sarkozy start to take huge political risks and create the basis for a closer political union, this fire is going to burn its way through the fuel until there's nothing left.

    August 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  11. MAF

    When the cat's away, the mice will play. No, I don't think they should cut short their vacations. The speculators will have their way with the market, the media will behave like tabloids and create yet another crisis. Someone's making a lot of money and the European (or any other) leaders are not going to stop the greed, certainly not the dimwit European financial leaders. And the Tea Party idiots can have their cake and eat it, with their tea of course. And maybe they'd like to invite Barroso and ram some down his throat, so he can stop mumbling and undoing what was achieved before the summer break. But hey, we've got to retain all the thousands of EU bureaucrats in Brussels, so what if the rest of the continent is cracking under unemployment?

    August 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  12. Mitteleuropa

    Responding to the poster "atinks":
    Nope, we'll be fine but thanks "atinks" for your thoughts.

    See you in Europe, since all of you "Europns r eviil!" types end up immigrating in Europe anyway and leaving your third world shit holes. Hmm, maybe that's why Europe is having fincancial troubles at the moment. We need to thin the herd, and your types "atinks" are on top of the list. Maybe not you personally, but I am sure you have some cousin or neighbour who hates "Europn" as much as you but would cut his left ball just to set foot in it. Just like you.

    August 5, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  13. Pepe_LePew

    Merkel and Sarkozy should stay away and enjoy their holidays, because this so called "financial crisis" is just a cheap trick of some super rich bastards to press out another few hundred billions out of the poor (and in their eyes just stupid) people.

    August 5, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  14. Jarhead

    The fact they can't bee seen is a hopeful sign. They wont' screw things up and let them run their course instead, which is what should have been the case to begin with.

    August 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  15. Nico Swaan

    While Rome burned, Nero fiddled. European leaders are, by and large, following in a grand old tradition. No, they probably can't DO anything, at least anything quick and decisive. But they can show the people that leaders, though maybe impotent in the face of the storm, are as concerned and upset as they are.

    August 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  16. Glenn


    The great and worst thing about the contemporary financial market is that whats bad for Europe is bad for the rest of the work. Whats bad for U.S is bad for the rest of the word. Whats bad for China or India or Japan or Malaysia is bad for the rest of the world.

    The fact is, none of us living in these regions are so independent and isolated as we like to think we are. We're all far to much in each others pockets to make this anything but a global problem despite nationalistic loons washing their hands of this and blaming it on "The imperialist pig-dogs..."

    Grow up. Read more.


    August 5, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  17. Holiday Time

    It's August and anyone who has been to Europe or has lived in Europe knows that Europe, for the most part, goes on Holiday for some, if not all, of August. It's been that way forever, regardless of the "crises" that were going on. But even if these leaders are on holiday, in today's age of connectivity, I highly doubt they are truly out of the loop on what is going on. They are probably still working, just not the 12 – 16 hours they usually end up working.

    August 5, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  18. who cares let it collapses

    Fear and greed are that drives the markets – Fear of losing money is greed in any event they are both evils.

    August 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  19. npthinking

    The leaders of the 27 of the EU should cut their vacations short and meet in an Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) to decide a move to EU (or Eurozone or Europlus) political union, US or German style.
    Nick Panayotopoulos

    August 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  20. pick a pepper

    the leaders are useless puppets

    August 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  21. I-take-the-5th

    Trichet is a jackass. Who in their right mind would raise interest rates in the middle of a recession and slow nonexistent growth instead of focusing on core inflation. The only economy in Europe that was doing anything was Deutschland and they are bailing out the weaker Euro countries who are choking on a over priced Euro with socialized economies, huge debt and no GDP. Its not wonder that China is stepping in and Buying up their assets at rock bottom prices.

    US isn't much better but at least we have some smart people like Bernake who don't raise rates in this kind of Economy.

    August 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  22. Antoine

    If only US leaders had taken the last 20 years off, we would all probably be better off by now.
    Every single source of concerns in international, eco, or finance maters is directly linked to the great US job.

    August 5, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  23. michael

    Berlusconi should be in jail instead of heading to his villa outside of Milan. Merkel seems to love her Italian holidays, she should hike her uptight German ass back to Germany and think about getting those nukes shut down before the Eurozone completely collapses. Cameron should too most likely be behind bars and i'm sure he's trying to keep a low profile after the Murdoch scandal blew up! he and his lovely looking wife are drinking more than their fair share of the fine tuscan red wines to be sure!! I wonder whose watching the baby? interesting how they all choose Italy for their holidays, or right in the border where Sarkozy is trying to get as much action out of his Italian wife that he can. As for that prick, he should be thinking about the radioactivity seeping from Frances crumbling Nuclear power industry and how Areva is going to meet energy needs in France after their Italian investments fell through. Looks like Capitalisms time is up.

    August 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  24. G.Od

    @atinks Firstly, Europe never ruled anything... And yes, a big welcome to China! Let's hope that by now they start to realise their situation. The trillions they made through unfair competition and inferior quality are melting down in their greedy
    knuckles as we speak. I pray, daily, for the dollar to come down and stay down for that matter. As for Europe, we should maybe pull up a fence around it like the Chinese themselves once did...

    @Dracula... the trillions, as mentioned are indeed represented by "worthless sheet paper" like you said, maybe that's why the economic news is slightly more unsettling to China as it may look to the US and Europe...

    August 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  25. thomas

    The europaen leader are not able to save the Euro because the whole construktion of this money is from the beginning totaly wrong.
    The northern Countries like Germany, Holland usw have a stable policy with the money. The southern countries they have an other system with their money. For example: in the greek country the people paid not their taxes; the employees in the state offices are nearly 50 % of all working people. Thats not good and has destroyed the greek finance situation.
    In Italy, Mr. Berluscony said: we will pay back the loaned money "when father is dead". That means never.
    All these things are crasy. I think the people of the northern countrys will not give more money in these countries and will not destroy their own future.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  26. Spitfire777

    and we germans have to pay the bills + interests for all of those who live irresponsible... germans get out of EU!!! and no, i'm not right-wing, i'm one of those, who believed in the EU, but learned how fraggile this european system is...
    and the USA should change their whole system... they say they have pure capitalism, but pure capitalism (accompished market) can't be reached, so why they are holding on their "bubble"?? well, in germany social market economy works as in many other european states... but germany is in bad luck to be in the EU... if this will take longer, germany will be eaten by the interests-black-holes, too

    August 5, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  27. Nisse

    Until the world has accepted the fact that the US has left the scene its of minor importance what european leaders does – the power has moved to China years ago...

    August 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  28. Emilio

    I don´t understand why you have choose the UK Prime Minister in the article about the European leaders. It´s obvious that UK is not a european country. In fact, UK is member iof UE, but it´s a Trojan horse. They don´t feel european and we (the europeans) don´t feel that britons are europeans. Europe will be withou doubt better without the presence of a country like UK.

    August 5, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  29. John

    The leaders certainly give the impression that they have left the bridge just as Europe and the world is entering dangerous ecomomic waters.Let's hope the ship does not get its bottom ripped out on a jaggard rock! Nice to know our gallant leaders are sipping drinks and putting their feet up!

    August 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  30. Roland33

    They are doing exactly what they should be doing taking time off and letting the markets do the work.You can't keep screaming for government to get out of your life and then come crying to them when your stocks are falling.

    August 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  31. khumalo Onisimo

    So what happens to Mr Khanye a subsistence farmer in rural Gokwe already under a heavy yoke of dictatorship and is clueless about his fate except that nothing seems to work out for him. Guys are can't take care of my concubine mai clara and wife literally.

    August 5, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  32. Sam

    How about this scenario: If you look at the map, all the holiday locations* are in the same area, close to the northern part of italy. My bet is they are sitting in a secret meeting as we speak on world economics and security issues after the information that has come out after the Oslo events.

    *German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on a hiking holiday in Italy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a three-week holiday in the French Riviera, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is heading for his villa outside Milan, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron is keeping a low profile on holiday in Tuscany, according to The Times.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  33. Arthur P.

    They should enjoy their well earned vacations. And Barrosso should join them instead of firing up the crisis with stupid remarks as he did yesterday. Greedy speculators who are creating their own reality by betting on losses and creating crisis stories hopefully will loose out big time once investors decide to invest again. Hopefully at some point legislation will be introduced worldwide which prohibits all forms of short selling, requires invested money to stay put at least a month. Even when massive tsunamis or other natural disasters strike economic realities at the world and global level really do not change as dramatically as the current greedy speculators make all those other fools pulling their money out of good investments believe. The EU leaders have done more than enough. The amount of money already put in place to stabilize markets is unprecedented. The US congress and senate really should be more in focus, as they have really not done enough to ensure the US gets out of the danger zone it has landed in thanks to too low taxes to cover expenditures. If one expresses the total deficit in the EU vs the US on a per capita basis, the US is really in bigger trouble.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  34. gigi Aldred

    Same palce as Obama and terrorist Clinton, all celebrating the death of 50 small children in a children's hospital that they bombed lat night in Libya. Dirty evil, lying, terrorists, murdering dictators. Of course CNN thik this story is not worth publishing, but would rahter concentrate on the crap they normally publish, must hide this story from the American people. Who said you live in a democratic country, you live in a coutry that is controlled by lying, murdereing, evil, thieving terrorist leaders i.e Clinton and Obama. Your country sucks

    August 6, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  35. Þorsteinn Halldórsson

    OK hockey puck, The answer is there on vacation as most of europe is in July and August and guess what the sun still rises and sets daily. we hav e become so programmed and the US especially on news by the minute that you work yourself to death or worry yourself to death. Warning, stop and smell the roses and a sip of wine would not hurt either.
    Every heart stopping wall street dilemma seem to coreect itself after the wealthy exchange stock and play the world vegas slots.
    Stop supporting the same old and let it fail, guess what??? Something will come throughand solve the problem. If we keep letting these pencil brains (wanted to use stronger wording there) rule life then there anwser will be WW3 to solve the problem.
    Sad anyway you look at it, but most important to look, listen and learn. Peace to all and goodnight.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  36. dmacm

    I agree with Peter Warrens comment on press hype on this situation. I was stuck in a hotel room on a business trip this past Thursday, had the TV on in the background and it was like a dark cartoon with all the 'news' and 'financial' channels flashing the doom and gloom. The press appears to feed on and accentuate the negative always and the constant stream of 'experts' with their back-side covering comment is enough to drive a person over the edge. I ended up turning the TV off – then I had a very positive and productive day.

    August 6, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  37. BenDover

    Lets hope they stay on holiday, most of them are a waste of space

    August 6, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  38. kevin

    Can i point out to the person who so readily dismisses the historical behaviour of European countries in africa and asia, as terrible as it was, but suggests that China, of all places, has some clean record when it comes to its behaviour towards individuals and countries, is absolutely absurd.......!! How many millions of their own people did they kill for idealistic purposes? Their current scrambling for African economic and 'social development' projects, is of course 21st Century Colonialism. Using and abusing these lands and peoples just as the Europeans.

    But as for the Markets, i had a brief vision of another decade of default and political turmoil in Europe, due to the powers the markets and these Ratings Agency's seem to hold over Soverign nations and their economic comfort. Pure speculative self-interest from certain market forces perhaps?
    But my vision ended with a fantasy of there being a time in the near-future when a consortium of Private companies and perhaps enormously wealthy individuals, agrees to take on the debt responsibility for a small european or asian country and thus begins the first legal corporate take over of a soverign country, a furthur step down the ladder from the IMF, corporate sponsorship of everything possible, from drinking water to schools and....oh wait.....has this happened already? kind of

    August 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  39. Paddy Lawrence

    atinks says:
    "...europ who rape and looted its colonies of Africa and Asia to fuel its decaying economy, China is a well respected nation that deserves its current advance and world economic ranking. The world is better off without the West".

    My response:
    You're an idiot that needs to join the 21st century. Do you really think you're clever airing this outdated view of Europe? The Chinese will show their true hand one day and you'll realise that you've chosen the wrong side. I pity those that have to live with you and your ridiculousness.

    August 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  40. take a step back

    True, it is an overstatement to regard China as a responsible and respected leader in the 21st century. But, I think Europe is in for it. The only people that seem to believe that Europe is going to rise to any challenges or overcome this political and economic crisis are Europeans. I hate to tell you, but from the outside you guys look kind of dysfunctional. Maybe it's time to take a step back and take a good hard look at yourselves. There isn't much to admire about what Europe has achieved in the last 20 years. Your talk just seems much bigger than the results of your actions. Seriously, how are you guys gonna come out of this one united? History tells me that Europeans are feudal by nature. Have things really changed that much now that your money looks the same? I put my money on not much. But who knows...

    August 19, 2011 at 5:47 am |
  41. icon downloads

    In my opinion you are mistaken. Write to me kn PM.


    September 23, 2012 at 5:28 am |

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