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The European Central Bank is the central bank for Europe’s single currency, the “euro”. The euro was first used in 1999 at which time there were 11 member nations in the European Union. Today, there are 16 countries which are members.

The credit crisis we have experienced in the U.S. was not isolated. Counties all over the globe have been affected and, most recently, the so-called PIIGS nations have been suffering significantly. Economies in Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain have seen debt to GDP ratios explode and needed austerity measures have already prompted both strikes and riots, most notably, in Greece. All of the uncertainty surrounding many of the EU economies has exerted substantial downward pressure on the euro.

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