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Why 'Bin Laden' euro notes should be abolished

Demand for 500 euro bills as a store of value has started to decline, according to a currency strategist at one of the world's largest banks, who told CNBC that the note is used extensively for criminal activity and should be abolished, with the proceeds used to recapitalize European banks.

Business Insider: Greek elections may damage euro

The current anger in Greece could trump the fear eventually, and this may constitute some permanent damage to the euro.

Business Insider: Europe faces more economic turbulence, reports Citi

Citi's veteran technical analyst Tom Fitzpatrick has bad news for everyone.

Finally, a "sort of Marshall Plan" for the EU

BRUSSELS — The ground is shifting in Europe’s debt crisis. The edifice of economic austerity built under the guidance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is starting to wobble. There’s a new buzz in Brussels about pumping hundreds of billions into a Marshall Plan-inspired fund to get Europeans back to work, devaluing the euro to boost exports or sharing out the euro-zone debt burden.

Greece bailout: what now?

Today's Greek deal was a long time coming. Here's what you need to know.
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The Europe sculpture of Belgian artist May Claerhout outside the European Parliament building on November 17, 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

For months now, Greece has been at the center of Europe's exhausting debt and euro crisis.

Figuring out what to do about the mess in Athens has, of course, caused fits from Berlin, to Paris, to Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, London and beyond.

So today's bailout — while by no means a cure — is a welcome development for everyone involved. And due to Europe's central role in the global economy, that means just about everyone on earth.

But that happy note aside, it's important to keep Europe's challenges in perspective. 

GlobalPost's Paul Ames put it best:

Now all (the EU) has to do is help the country pull out of a five-year recession, get the one-in-five unemployed Greeks back to work and make sure that Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy don't end up sharing a similar fate.

That will be no easy task.

As GlobalPost's Ken Maguire reported today from Athens, plenty of Greeks feel like sacrificial lambs — enduring economic pain so the EU can save the euro.

“Psychologically, I am close to collapse because I am concerned about my family,” Dimitris Paras, a 38-year-old investment banker who was laid off one month ago told Maguire. “Now, I either work for a coffee shop or go abroad.”

“There will be a point when people won’t take it anymore,” he added.

Even more troubling — for European unity, anyway — is a growing divide about where to go from here.

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Euro zone debt crisis: War?

Hyperbole sweeps the pundits, obscuring the situation

Sometimes commentators can get swept up in events but the euro zone debt crisis really is bringing out the worst in pundits. Is what's happening in the euro zone really a kind of warfare?

Here is Edwin Truman, of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, in yesterday's New York Times:

"FOR the third time in a century, a bitter conflict fuelled by historic grievances has erupted in Europe, with the United States looking from afar and hoping not to get involved. Of course, this is not being fought on the battlefields but in the arcane arenas of international finance. But as in World War I … "

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Sarkozy and Merkel hold special meeting

French President makes his close relationship with Merkel a campaign issue.

Say this about French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he takes risks. 80 days before he stands for re-election he held a cabinet meeting and invited a guest to attend: German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is their 14th joint meeting - giving new meaning to the term "special relationship."  Merkel said it was  "quite noram" for her to be involved in the French presidential election campaign.

The BBC has a full report here.

Sarkozy's close alliance with Merkel has become a serious issue in the election campaign. Marine Le Pen, leader of the ultra-right National Front is running on a platform of taking France out of the euro. She is running a credible third in recent opinion polls. Socialist Francois Hollande is leading Sarkozy and he too is taking a very anti-Europe line as arch euro-skeptic, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, gleefully wrote in today's Daily Telegraph:

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Euro blues: Even Malta hates the common currency

St. Julian's — Nations that had once pledged to adopt the currency are getting cold feet.

European economic news round-up

Quiet day in the financial markets but heating up elsewhere
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The Occupy movement has begun setting up Camp Igloo in Davos in advance of next week's annual World Economic Forum meeting. (Sean Gallup/AFP/Getty Images)

Update: S&P has just announced it is making one more downgrade, to a critical issuer of European debt: the European Financial Stability Fund has lost its AAA rating. In parallel with France, it has gone from AAA to AA+.

Last Friday, Standard & Poor's downgraded several euro-zone countries credit ratings, most notably France, which went from AAA to AA+. The headline the next day Britain's Guardian newspaper was  "Friday the 13th" with its attendant implications of misfortune.

Today, there was no sign of Jason Voorhees ripping up Europe.  The financial markets shrugged everything off. The CAC 40 in Paris finished up 0.9 percent while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt closed up 1.25 percent. The FTSE in London was up 0.4 percent. Not exciting but not negative.

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Europe: daily economic round-up

Downgrades coming?
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Going, going, gone. Rumor has it France is about to lose its AAA rating form Standard & Poor's. What will that mean for the euro zone debt crisis? (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

UPDATE; THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT HAS ACKNOWLEDGED THAT STANDARD & POOR'S HAS DOWNGRADED THE COUNTRY'S CREDIT RATING ONE NOTCH FROM AAA TO AA+. 

"It's not good news, but it's not a catastrophe," said French Finance Minister Francois Baroin. "It's not ratings agencies that decide French policy."

 

The day - and the week - ends with rumors swirling that Standard & Poor's is preparing to issue credit downgrades for a number of euro zone countries including France. How strong are the rumors? If S & P doesn't drop France a notch or two from AAA every newspaper and most of the financial community in Europe is going to feel real embarrassed.

The rumor has sent stock markets down. The euro has lost more than a cent against the dollar.

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