ITALY and Spain have sent shockwaves through the eurozone as their deepening debt crises sparked a collapse in banking shares across Europe.
Political uncertainty in both countries has led to an exodus of investors who are seeking to satisfy their cravings for stability elsewhere.
The two-week sell-off has plunged cash-strapped Italy even further into the red and there are now real fears of a Greek-style financial crisis which would bring the country to its knees.
The mood across the eurozone’s markets grew even more jittery when Italy’s populist Lega and Five Star Movement once again failed to get presidential approval for a new government with leaders divided over whether to appoint an arch-Eurosceptic as finance minister.
The situation has now been exacerbated by the prospect of a government collapse in Spain after the main opposition party called for vote of no-confidence in the minority rule of prime minister Mariano Rajoy, whose centre-right Popular party has been racked by a campaign finance scandal.
Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez’s decision to table the confidence vote sent the main Spanish stock index down 2.7 per cent but most of the political and market focus is still on Italy.
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz said: “We saw in Greece how dangerous it is if a country has a bigger and bigger debt and I hope that we will not have a second Greece in our neighbouring country, Italy.”