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The two leaders didn’t rule out the second solution. That’s because the last straw has been the rising cost of refinancing national bonds — more threatening even than the size and conditions of the bailouts. The Germans are more than aware that any such new credit instrument has to be backed proportionately by Europe’s largest economy. Nor is it clear from its most enthusiastic sponsors how rates would be set if they ignored/avoided the current race to the top among lenders for the highest interest rate in a rocky market.

Of course, the 500-pound gorilla in the room is the option of letting debtors drop back into their old national currencies to balance their books. But dismantling the oversold euro (pun intended) might be the death of the European Union itself.

Stay tuned: The tragicomedy is still unfolding.

c Sol Sanders, veteran foreign correspondent and analyst, writes weekly on the intersection of politics, business and economics. He can be reached at