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Recession in America? 10 questions assessing the threat.

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If Europe is so important, what's going on there now?

Greece holds elections June 17, after a May 6 vote failed to produce a viable governing coalition. A central question is whether a new governing coalition will favor exiting, or seek to remain in, the eurozone. With unemployment near 20 percent, neither option has much appeal to Greek voters. They don't like the current austerity but know an exit from the euro, with some form of debt default, also means hardship and no guarantee of a jobs recovery.

The eurozone compact includes no formalized exit process, so steps leading toward a "divorce," including Greek noncompliance with austerity terms, might unfold over several months. Some economists see an exit occurring at the end of the calendar year. More on what that means in a moment.

Meanwhile, Spain has become a focus of concern because of its parallels to Greece: fast-rising public debt, a weak economy with high unemployment, and depositor withdrawals from private banks. Spain has a larger economy than Greece, so preventing its collapse and possible exit from the eurozone is an urgent priority for policymakers.

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