Obama’s European Trip: Comparing Countries’ Debt Troubles

BY Paul Solman  May 25, 2011 at 2:14 PM EDT

Editor’s Note: President Obama addressed the British Parliament on Wednesday as part of his six-day, four-country tour of Europe. Dubbed as one of the key events of his trip, the president talked about the “essential relationship” between the U.S. and the Brits. Mr. Obama’s visit comes as the U.K. and countries across Europe are implementing controversial austerity measures in the face of stagnant economic growth, in the case of Britain, and sovereign debt crises in the eurozone.

Concerns about debt center on the so-called “PIIGS” (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain). “The smaller countries, the periphery countries — Greece, Portugal and Ireland — are in deep, deep trouble,” Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University told Jeffrey Brown on Monday. “But if they default on their debt, that hits the banks in the richer countries, and the governments there have to bail them out.”

We decided to look at the economic situations of eight countries, including the four on Mr. Obama’s itinerary, and how likely the troubled ones are to default on their debt.

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