Top European officials scheduled a last-minute meeting today amid fears Italy would be the next country hit hard by the euro zone debt crisis. Though a rep for the European Council president says Italy isn’t on the agenda, other officials privately contradict him. Last Friday saw a 2.45% gap between the yields of Italian and German 10-year bonds—the biggest since the euro began. The Italian yield has hit some 5.27%, just below the 5.5% bankers fear could prompt a widening crisis.
Meanwhile, the country’s blue-chip stock market index dropped 3.5%. Investors are worried Silvio Berlusconi may be trying to squeeze out the country’s finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, who has been considered highly effective during the financial crisis and in managing debt. The threat to Italy hasn’t approached the severity of the Greek crisis, but its economy is more than double the size of Greece, Portugal, and Ireland combined, notes the New York Times. “We can't go on for many more days like Friday," a European official tells Reuters. "We're very worried about Italy." (Read more Greek debt crisis stories.)