Italy pushes through austerity law

Italy’s Senate approved a new budget law, clearing the way for approval of the package in the lower house on Saturday and the formation of an emergency government to replace that of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy late on Thursday.

A German official said there had been an “exchange of opinions” between Merkel and Obama, while Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner demanded fast action from Europe.
“The crisis in Europe remains the central challenge to global growth. It is crucial that Europe move quickly to put in place a strong plan to restore financial stability,” Geithner said in a statement following a meeting with finance ministers from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation countries.

After months of dither and delay, Rome appears to have got the message as bond markets pushed it to the brink of needing a bailout that the euro zone cannot afford to give.

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