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David Cameron: Eurozone \'at a crossroads\'

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Arab Today, arab today David Cameron: Eurozone \'at a crossroads\'

Manchester - UPI

The euro could unravel, Britain\'s prime minister was set to say Thursday, as Spain\'s prime minister warned his country could be shut out of financial markets. \"The eurozone is at a crossroads,\" an excerpt indicated David Cameron would tell a Manchester, England, business audience. \"It either has to make up or it is looking at a potential breakup,\" a transcript of his prepared marks indicated Cameron would tell his audience -- echoing remarks he made to British lawmakers in Parliament Wednesday. A breakup -- notably a Greek departure from the euro -- would be \"uncharted territory, which carries huge risks for everyone,\" the excerpt released by his office indicated Cameron would say. He added Britain\'s interests would be served by eurozone leaders sorting out their problems. \"But be in no doubt -- whichever path is chosen, I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect this country and secure our economy and financial system,\" the excerpts quoted him as saying. His remarks were to follow a comment by Bank of England Gov. Mervyn King Wednesday that Britain was drawing up contingency plans for a eurozone breakup. The economic and monetary union was \"tearing itself apart without any obvious solution,\" King said, calling the euro debt crisis the single biggest threat to Britain\'s economic recovery. Britain is in a double-dip recession. The eurozone is Britain\'s biggest trading partner. The central bank did not predict a breakup of the single currency area. In Madrid, Mariano Rajoy, who took office in December, warned of a possible borrowing freeze for his debt-ridden country. With investors charging a record-high 6.5 percent to lend money to Spain, the country faces \"a serious risk that [investors] will not lend us money -- or they will do so at an astronomical rate,\" he told reporters Wednesday in a Spanish Parliament hallway, in his first public appearance this week. Those high interest rates -- to induce investors to hold risky Spanish debt rather than low-risk debt of stronger economies -- eventually brought Greece, Portugal and Ireland to call for costly international bailouts. Given this backdrop, Rajoy\'s government was \"taking the measure we have to take,\" he said. \"We must continue cutting public spending.\" He denied Madrid was negotiating some type of help to overcome its problems. \"Nothing of the sort has been discussed, and I have talks with the main European leaders almost every week,\" he said. Spain is headed toward a budget deficit of 6.4 percent of gross domestic product this year and 6.3 percent next year, the European Commission forecast Friday. This amount is more than twice the 3 percent maximum allowed under European Union rules and exceeded Madrid\'s promised target of 5.3 percent this year. Spain will be the only eurozone country to remain in recession next year, the commission forecast. \"This is the strongest indication yet that austerity is failing in Spain,\" Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy Ltd., a London consulting firm that specializes in sovereign credit risk, told The New York Times. \"Spain stands out like a sore thumb,\" he said. The Spanish government ordered banks to set aside $39 billion in provisions against bad loans Friday, after ordering them to set aside $64 billion in provisions in February. Spanish banks are sitting on a combined $230 billion of troubled assets, with investors increasingly concerned about the viability of the Spanish banking system, the Spanish newspaper El Pais said. The Madrid Stock Exchange\'s benchmark IBEX 35 index closed down 1.33 percent Wednesday at 6,611.5 points, a level last seen in 2003.

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