Team named to help Italy out of crisis

Nov. 16, 2011 at 8:38 AM
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ROME, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Prime Minister-designate Mario Monti unveiled the team of ministers he wants to help him steer Italy out of its debt crisis Wednesday.

The team of ministers, part of an emergency government of national unity, has experts in their respective fields who are not politicians, ANSA reported.

Monti announced his cabinet after telling Italian President Giorgio Napolitano he no longer had reservations about leading an emergency government after two days of discussions with political leaders.

Napolitano asked Monti to form an emergency government after Silvio Berlusconi resigned as prime minister during the weekend.

Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party has said it would support a Monti-led administration, as have the main parties that were in opposition. The Northern League, the People of Freedom's ally in the outgoing government, has said it won't back a Monti administration but may vote in favor of individual measures.

Monti's government could be sworn in by the end of the week after Parliament takes several confidence votes. He did not identify any of the ministers.

Meanwhile, Eurozone breakup prospects intensified Wednesday as government borrowing costs, including for governments previously untouched by the crisis, soared.

Bond yields, or the interest rates governments pay to borrow, climbed to euro-era records for a second straight day in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Netherlands and other eurozone countries previously regarded as safe havens -- as well as in Italy and Spain, deeply weighed down by debt.

Italy's 10-year-bond yield again jumped above 7 percent, the third time in a week the borrowing cost crossed the threshold that prompted Greece, Ireland and Portugal to seek European Union bailouts.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose own country came under pressure as fears about national creditworthiness spread, said the eurozone should be allowed to expel countries that don't adhere to eurozone agreements and follow eurozone rules.

"We would like countries to be able to be pushed out of the eurozone," he told a London news conference, saying expulsion would be a last resort.

The 17-country economic and monetary union has no provisions to expel member countries and no country has left in its 12 years of existence.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos faced a vote of confidence in his 6-day-old government Wednesday.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Wednesday's vote -- Greece's second in less than two weeks, after Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to step down in return for lawmaker support Nov. 4 -- represented Greece's "final chance for our country."

"By doing all that is required, we help not only ourselves, but all of the eurozone," he told Parliament Tuesday.

A confidence vote would give Papademos, 64, a three-month mandate to enact an Oct. 27 bailout agreement that writes off $138 billion in debt held by Greece's private creditors and commits another $180 billion to help Greece meet its remaining commitments -- provided the government enacts a new round of painfully deep austerity measures that eurozone leaders say are not negotiable.

Greece's gross domestic product shrank 5.2 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said Tuesday.

Papademos' Cabinet is expected to approve a 2012 austerity budget Thursday, Venizelos said. The budget is expected to be presented to Parliament Friday.

Unions vowed a general strike when the 2012 budget is voted on in Parliament.

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