Laughing at Europe's Bailouts

frank-holmesRemember the old Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s On First?”

Australian political satirists John Clarke and Bryan Dawe recently put together a modern-day version of that 1940s vaudeville classic with a rapid-fire shtick that pokes edgy fun at how much of Western Europe found itself buried under trillions of dollars in sovereign debt, and the scant likelihood that this debt will ever be repaid despite the European Union’s $920 billion bailout plan.

Clarke at one point summarizes the issue with this Costello-esque query: “How can broke economies lend money to other broke economies who haven’t got any money because they can’t pay back the money the broke economy lent to the other broke economy and shouldn’t have lent it to them in first place because the broke economy can’t pay it back?”

All jokes aside, the Aussies are spot-on with their assessment of what’s troubling Europe. Sovereign debt for Germany, France and the UK is above 80 percent of projected GDP for 2011, and these countries are the relatively healthy ones.

Several eurozone nations are still teetering under their debt burden, which could lead to more massive bailouts and a threat to the future of the euro, not to mention the risk of a contagion that could reverse the global economic recovery.