European Sovereign Debt Crisis

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DEFINITION of 'European Sovereign Debt Crisis'

A period of time in which several European countries faced the collapse of financial institutions, high government debt and rapidly rising bond yield spreads in government securities. The European sovereign debt crisis started in 2008, with the collapse of Iceland's banking system, and spread to primarily to Greece, Ireland and Portugal during 2009. The debt crisis led to a crisis of confidence for European businesses and economies.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'European Sovereign Debt Crisis'

The European sovereign debt crisis was brought to heel by the financial guarantees by European countries, who feared the collapse of the euro and financial contagion, and by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Ratings agencies downgraded the debt of several eurozone countries, with Greek debt at one point being moved to junk status. As part of the loan agreements, countries receiving bailout funds were required to meet austerity measures designed to slow down the growth of public sector debt.

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