Nov. 28 - Italians are encouraged to buy a stake in their country's debt, as borrowing costs reach a critical point. Kirsty Basset reports.
As the cost of borrowing in Italy rises to unsustainable levels, Italians are being encouraged to play their part and 'buy a bond.' "BTP Day," allows Italians to purchase their government's debt without paying the usual fees. The campaign is being backed by Italian footballers but bank worker Antonio Petrillo says anyone can invest. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) INTESA SANPAOLO BRANCH DIRECTOR, ANTONIO PETRILLO, SAYING: "We expect it to have a positive impact. The Intesa Sanpaolo group has advertised the initiative through its 7200 cash points as well as its website." Foreign investors have been dumping debt since Italy took centre stage in the ongoing euro zone crisis in early July. But while many might see it as their patriotic duty to participate, others are steering clear. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) HUSBAND AND WIFE DELLA CHIESA D'ISASCA, EXITING THE BANK, SAYING: (WIFE): "We are broke." (HUSBAND): "I don't dare touch the bonds. Just touching them makes things worse. It's a disaster. If you sell them you lose, if you buy, you lose even more" (WIFE):"We're scared. It's not just us, our friends are too. Not just us, it's elderly people - everyone." It comes at a critical time for Italy, according to Rabobank analyst Jan Lambregts. (SOUNDBITE)(English) JAN LAMBREGTS, RABOBANK "Italy is effectively close to being shut out of the markets. The yields they have to pay to fund themselves are already unsustainable in the longer run here and the longer run is not that long for Italy so we are int he endgame - the end phase of the euro zone debt crisis." Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is expected to announce new austerity measures next week but the possibility of a full-scale debt emergency may force him to act sooner. He's not the only European leader coming under pressure. E.C. President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso are due to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama. They're likely to face tough questions about how much longer the crisis will last. Kirsty Basset, Reuters.