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Public Debt, Protests Made Economic News in 2011

Public Debt, Protests Made Economic News in 2011

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

This week, we look back on a few of the big economic stories of twenty eleven.

The debt crisis in that started last year in Greece and Ireland spread to other European countries.

Portugal required a financial rescue of over one hundred billion dollars earlier this year. And Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi lost political support because of his country’s debt troubles. Former EU official Mario Monti took over as Italy’s prime minister in November.

Greek debt continued to hurt European banks. There is great pressure on Europe’s financial system from debt problems in countries that use the euro. This has created questions about the future of the euro itself. As a result, European finance officials have called for tighter financial cooperation and new rules.

But European leaders have yet to agree on expanding the rescue fund meant for debt-troubled euro-area economies.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick say Europe will have to find answers to its debt problems.

ROBERT ZOELLICK: "Europe has to rescue Europe, OK? And it's very important. If there's any message when I'm asked, 'Well, what can the U.S. do and what can China do?' The best thing they can do is clean up their act at home, be a source of growth at home."

But Mister Zoellick also said it was important for other big economies to deal with their own budget imbalances.

ROBERT ZOELLICK: "The downgrade of America from triple A didn't affect the finances today, but it may be one of those events people look back on 10 years from now and say, 'Did they get the warning? '"

In August, the United States had its credit rating cut from the highest level, triple A, to double A plus. The move was widely blamed on the failure of American lawmakers to agree on details of budget cuts to reduce deficits.

In business news, the largest publicly traded technology company, Apple, lost its chief.


Steve Jobs brought the world the iPhone, iPod and iPad. He stepped down in August because of health problems. He helped make Apple into one of the world’s most valuable companies. Steve Jobs died of cancer in October at the age of fifty-six.

Protests for political freedom swept North Africa and the Middle East in the Arab Spring. But protests over budget cuts and jobs were heard around the world.


Protesters hold a candlelight vigil outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong in support of the Wukan villagers in December.
Protesters hold a candlelight vigil outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong in support of the Wukan villagers in December.

In the United States, activists in hundreds of cities protested economic inequality and joblessness. Protestors were angry that banks got rescued with taxpayers’ money during the financial crisis nearly four years ago. But many Americans continue to face hardship.

Anger over government budget cuts led to protests in Greece, Britain and elsewhere. And villagers in Southeast China’s Wukan rebelled against local officials they accused of illegally taking land.


And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. I'm Mario Ritter.


Jim Randle, Mil Arcega and William Ide contributed to this report.