S&P Threatens to Downgrade Eurozone Countries

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The credit rating agency Standard and Poor's is threatening to downgrade most of Europe as the continent's debt crisis continues.

The S&P is examining the ratings of 17 eurozone countries, even top-rated France and Germany.

The threat to cut Germany's prized AAA rating was particularly surprising to many financial analysts. Its bonds are considered among the safest in the world.

The news sent jitters across stock markets in Asia Tuesday morning.

Experts believe many of the euro countries will be downgraded, which would prolong Europe's recession leading to less money being spent on products from Asia and around the world.

European leaders meet later this week in Brussels to devise a plan to keep the continent solvent.

"There is a lot riding on what is happening in Europe as we go through the rest of this week. All of us hope and pray that the Europeans get their act together, that they put down their decisions very clearly, and outline a clear plan for implementation of those decisions," said Wayne Swan, the treasurer of Australia.

Both France and Germany are proposing changes to the European Union treaty to create a path out of Europe's financial crisis.

They want countries that use the euro to face automatic penalties if budget deficits run too high.

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