By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
The young drop coverage to avoid higher premiums
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Europe has been in the second leg of a double-dip recession for nearly a year, officials announced Wednesday — a development that hardly comes as a surprise to the millions of workers protesting record-high unemployment in the streets of Athens and Madrid, or to many U.S. corporations with slumping sales on the continent.
Unemployment across the 17 countries that use the euro remained at its record high rate of 11.4 percent in August, official data showed Monday, renewing concerns that efforts to slash debts have sacrificed jobs.
Despite much fanfare at a summit last week, European leaders failed to convince global investors that they are on their way to solving their massive problems with debt and recession.
France and Germany on Monday proposed suspending the voting rights of European Union members who persistently break budget deficit limits, a major reform that would put teeth for the first time in the union's economic pact, but one that faces legal hurdles.
"While the government appeared to place less emphasis on the importance of the AAA rating in recent times as the threat to it mounted, it cannot hide the fact that its maintenance was a clear target from the outset of its term in office."
"Fitch's move is another slap in the face for the government — particularly as [Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne] made keeping the AAA rating a key focus for the UK's fiscal austerity prioritization as soon as the government came to power in the summer of 2010," said Howard Archer, economist with IHS Global Insight.