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Italy's Shaky Financial Future

Dec 18, 2015 | 09:58 GMT
The headquarters of the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena banking company in Siena, Italy.
The headquarters of the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena banking company in Siena, Italy.
(GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

As with many aspects of modern banking, the word "bankrupt" has its roots in Renaissance Italy. The original banks were Florentine merchants who would sit in the open street behind little benches ("bancas" in Italian) upon which would be stacked their money. If trading went against them and their capital was reduced to nothing, their bench would be said to be broken, or "banca rotta." It is fitting then that, 500 years later, the European country with the most worrying debt problem is Italy....

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