Until now, the EuroUnion states teetering on insolvency were sometimes referred to as PIGS - Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain. Now it appears that Italy, the EU's third largest economy, may be joining the club.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has called an emergency meeting of top officials dealing with the euro zone debt crisis for Monday morning, reflecting concern that the crisis could spread to Italy, the region's third largest economy.
Van Rompuy's spokesman Dirk De Backer said: "It's a coordination, not a crisis meeting." He added that Italy would not be on the agenda and declined to say what would be discussed.
However, two official sources told Reuters that the situation in Italy would be discussed. The talks were organized after a sharp sell-off in Italian assets on Friday, which has increased fears that Italy, with the highest sovereign debt ratio relative to its economy in the euro zone after Greece, could be next to suffer in the crisis. A second international bailout of Greece will also be discussed, the sources said.
With the US Congress itself deadlocked over means to avoid a default, some are beginning to think the unthinkable. What if America or one or more of the PIIGS went the way of Argentina and simply announced they intended to allow their debts to go into default? It sounds like madness, especially for a country as dependent on foreign borrowing as the United States, but we seem to be entering a somewhat irrational era with a marked deficiency in courageous and visionary leadership demanded by these times.