Investors approvingly size up
The debt of a nation
In great circulation;
Less so when liquidity dries up.
Now that the Athenian contagion has spread to Rome, the thing that made Italy's sovereign debt so attractive - namely, the shear amount of it - has become a focal point for investor fears and issuer nightmares. At €1.9 trillion ($(2.6 trillion), Italy ranks behind only the USA, UK, Germany and France in the league table of sovereign debt. As the Wall Street Journal noted, big investors felt comfortable with Italian bonds, despite the country's 120% debt-to-GDP ratio, because they knew they could always sell their position. Suddenly, this is no longer true, and Rome must figure out how to roll over the next €300 million of maturing bonds, which the market now prices at over 7%.