It was 09.05 and the commentator on the BBC World News gave a gasp. She was reading out the falling figures on the European stock exchanges, only minutes after they had opened. However her tone was closer to what she might have used to describe a major plane crash or an overwhelming natural disaster. The sense of alarm that she conveyed was such that any stock exchange trader would have been convinced to sell and sell all day. And ordinary mortals might have been forgiven for going straight to their bank or to the nearest ATM machine to draw as much cash as possible.
It is difficult to explain to television audiences the complications of leverage, securitisation, shorting, arbitrage, credit default swaps, sovereign funds, Tier 1 capital. It is easier to fix on the sharp rises and falls of the share markets or to make comparisons with the great depression of the 1930s, a sure way to send alarm bells ringing in the western psyche. When the history of the 2008 credit crisis is written some of the blame may be attributed to the dramatic and often panicky tones of global news reporting.
It was salutary, therefore, to be called to account by Italy