by Alex Brittain
Wall Street Journal
November 30, 2011
Wednesday’s publication of record unemployment figures is a pretty stark illustration of the economic impact Europe’s debt crisis is having–and raises the stakes still further for the politicians casting around for a solution.
The figures beg the question of how much worse it can get. Some 16.294 million people in the 17-nation euro zone were out of work in October, the highest tally since records began in 1995 and more than the combined populations of Belgium and Ireland.
In addition to the suffering of the individuals who have lost their job, the rise makes it harder still for governments to end the debt crisis. More unemployment means higher social security payments and lower tax receipts. Growth suffers, public borrowing rises, investors get anxious, and the debt crisis rolls on.
Losing patience, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Monday called on Europe’s beleaguered leaders to take two big steps to end the crisis: making a big boost to its bailout fund and leaning on the near-unlimited funds available to the European Central Bank.