Tipping point near in Euro debt crisis?

Just in time for Christmas, nervous investors in Europe are looking at recent moves to shore up the economies of weaker states and are not convinced the infusion of dollars can stem the tide:

Particularly worrying to Europe's leaders are early signs the market turmoil is spilling into countries thought to be less at risk: Italy and Belgium. "Tension is very high, in part because the market has already raided three countries," said Luca Cazzulani, deputy head of fixed-income strategy at Italy's Unicredit bank.

Economists generally agree Europe's current bailout fund is sufficient to rescue Spain, should that be necessary. But if Italy, Europe's third-largest economy, teetered, a rescue would test both Europe's economic resources and the will of healthier countries such as Germany to shoulder the costs.

Italy is faring better economically than some neighbors and its budget deficit is among the lowest in the euro zone. But Italy also has the region's second-largest debt burden, and half of it is financed abroad.

In addition to the huge government debt of some countries, especially on Europe's periphery, investors worry banks could face big losses. If problems among banks are greater than disclosed, that would have effects on these countries' budgets-and the size of any bailout they might need.

Analysts are pointing the finger at Germany for this latest crisis of confidence. Chancellor Merkel made it clear over the weekend that she would resist policies that left German taxpayers holding the bag if things went south. She reasoned that if investors stood to make a profit from the risky bonds, they should shoulder the risk as well.

That didn't sit well with the bondholders who believe in a never ending bailout. No one likes risk and it is likely that the premium bond buyers will demand for the extra risk will be too steep for some countries to pay.

The only ray of hope is that to this point, the central banks have managed to find a way to muddle through. But this is almost certainly living on borrowed time and it may be a question of when rather than if the Euro finally collapses under the weight of so much debt.