Debt Aid Package for Europe Took Nudge From Washington
STEVEN ERLANGER, KATRIN BENNHOLD and DAVID E. SANGER
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
PARIS — President Obama had just flown into Hampton, Va., Sunday morning to deliver a commencement address. But before he donned his silky academic robes, he was on the phone with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, offering urgent advice — and some not so subtle prodding — that Europe needed to try something big.
Weeks of hesitant half-steps to address Greece’s debt problems had only worsened market worries about the euro, and were threatening the still-fragile economic recoveries in the United States and Asia. Now, Mr. Obama told Mrs. Merkel that the Europeans needed an overwhelming financial rescue to end speculation that the euro — and European unity — could crumble.
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“He was trying to convey that he knew these were politically difficult steps that the leaders there had to take, that he had gone through them as well,” said one senior administration official familiar with the conversation. “And that, from his experience, trying to get out ahead as much as possible was the right way to go.”
That call was part of what a senior Treasury Department official called “one long conversation” with European leaders, who over an extraordinary weekend of late nights and early mornings overcame German resistance and agreed to a wholesale expansion of the bloc’s political and financial mission. Bending the rules, they backed the stability of all 16 countries that use the euro with loan guarantees adding up to nearly $1 trillion.
This article was posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 10:31 am