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News Wrap: Markets on Edge Over Ireland’s Growing Debt Crisis

November 16, 2010 at 3:58 PM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: There were new questions today about chances for Senate action this year on a nuclear arms treaty with Russia. The number-two Senate Republican, Jon Kyl, said he doesn’t think there’s enough time to address Republican concerns about the treaty during the lame-duck Congress.

But, later, Democratic Senator John Kerry, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, said he had talked with Kyl. Kerry said he does not believe the door is closed to action this year.

On Wall Street, stocks fell to their lowest levels in a month. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 178 points to close at 11023. The Nasdaq fell nearly 44 points to close above 2469. The sell-off was driven by fears that China’s growth will slow. And markets were on edge about the growing debt crisis in Ireland.

Finance ministers of the European Union convened today on the Irish situation. Dublin has resisted a bailout, but it’s struggling to cover more than $60 billion in real estate losses by Irish banks.

We have a report from Faisal Islam of Independent Television News.

FAISAL ISLAM: Gathering in Brussels, 16 finance ministers who gave up control of their own liras, escudos, marks, pesetas, and punts, in order to create the euro, raising questions about the very survival of monetary union, as they gather for yet another crisis meeting.

HERMAN VAN ROMPUY, president, European Council: We were in the survival mode. And it is not over. If you have a closer look to the papers this morning, it is not over yet. And so we entered in a survival period. It is not the moment to discuss upon what is the right method. We have all worked together in order to survive with the Euro Zone, because if we don’t survive with the Euro Zone, we do not — we will not survive with the European Union. But I’m very comfortable that we will overcome this.

FAISAL ISLAM: This was partly a tactic to heap pressure on this man, Brian Lenihan, the Irish finance minister, who arrived an hour late because of the Brussels fog and gave little away, even as he may have suspected that Ireland’s fate wasn’t quite in its own hands.

QUESTION: Will you be asking for emergency aid?

FAISAL ISLAM: The official line still that the Irish state doesn’t need a bailout. But, during the course of today, it became clear that Ireland is in talks with European institutions and the IMF over an external bailout of its banks.

KWAME HOLMAN: Also today, Austria warned it may not pay its share of an already agreed bailout for Greece. The Austrian finance minister insisted Greece show it has raised enough money from higher taxes.

The death toll from the cholera outbreak in Haiti surpassed 1,000 today. That came as rioting spread to more cities and two people were killed. The crowds claimed U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal brought the cholera into Haiti.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley acknowledged the heightened tensions.

P.J. CROWLEY, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs: Clearly, concerns are on the rise; frustration is on the rise. We understand that. You know, the number of, you know, cases continues to rise. The number of hospitalizations, you know, continues to rise.

There is obviously an investigation going on to try the determine the source of the outbreak. And, as far as I know, that investigation is ongoing and has not reached any conclusions.

KWAME HOLMAN: Haiti’s Ministry of Health has reported nearly 17,000 cases of cholera in the country. The bacterial strain is identical to one native to South Asia.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai pleaded with insurgents again today to abandon violence and accept offers of reconciliation. His latest appeal marked the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice. Karzai spoke a day after the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, declared his fighters will step up operations. And insurgent attacks killed two more NATO soldiers today.

Across the border in Pakistan, intelligence officials reported U.S. drone aircraft strikes killed 20 suspected militants. The attacks hit a tribal region of North Waziristan. Pakistani officials said the targets were a home and a vehicle caught speeding away.

Prince William, second in line to the British throne, is engaged to marry his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton. The announcement was made today in a brief statement by his father, Prince Charles. This afternoon, the couple appeared at St. James’s Palace in London. The bride-to-be wore a sapphire and diamond ring that belonged to William’s mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash 13 years ago.

PRINCE WILLIAM, United Kingdom: As you may recognize now, it’s my mother’s engagement ring. So, of course it’s very special to me. As Kate is very special to me now as well, it was only right the two were put together. But it was my way of making sure mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement and the fact that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together.

KWAME HOLMAN: The couple plans to be married next spring or summer, but no official wedding date was announced.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.