This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
See Cramer's multi-million dollar portfolio for FREE and get his new book Get Rich Carefully! Learn More

Europe Eases The Austerity Whip _ A Little

By DAVID McHUGH

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) â¿¿ Three and a half years into its government-debt crisis, there are signs that Europe is adopting a gentler approach toward austerity.

Political leaders aren't backing away aggressively from budget cuts and higher taxes, but they are increasingly trying to temper these policies, which have stifled growth and made it harder for many countries to bring their deficits under control.

The European Union is slowing its enforcement of deficit limits until the region's economy turns around; countries that were bailed out by their European neighbors are being given more time to repay loans, easing the pressure to cut budgets further; and financial leaders, including the head of the European Central Bank, say it's time to place more emphasis on reviving growth.

"There has clearly been a shift in thinking," says Christian Schulz, economist at Berenberg Bank in London.

After the crisis broke out in late 2009, governments dramatically slashed spending â¿¿ either to meet conditions for bailout loans, or to reassure jittery bond markets that they were trustworthy borrowers. This fiscal belt-tightening was introduced to help countries reduce their deficits and pave the way for critical financial aid.

Promises of austerity gave the ECB political breathing room to get more aggressive. The bank's pledge last summer to buy unlimited amounts of government bonds is largely responsible for taming Europe's financial crisis.

But austerity also inflicted severe economic pain in places like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Over time â¿¿ as the economy of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro descended into recession â¿¿ evidence grew that slashing spending and raising taxes were less effective at reducing deficits than initially thought, and perhaps counter-productive.

Why? Because as economies shrink, so do tax revenues, making it harder to close budget gaps.

The latest eurozone recession, which began last year, is forecast to end in the second half of this year and was the main focus of Thursday's summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
DOW 16,424.85 +162.29 1.00%
S&P 500 1,862.31 +19.33 1.05%
NASDAQ 4,086.2250 +52.0640 1.29%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Advertising Partners

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs