LONDON — When interest rates soared last week on Irish government bonds, it served as a grim warning to other indebted nations of how difficult and even politically ruinous it could be to roll back decades of public sector largess.
An Irish bond market already in free fall plunged further after Ireland announced on Thursday that it planned to nearly double its package of spending cuts and tax increases to try to rein in its huge deficit. Investors took it not as a sign of resolve but rather of Ireland’s desperation and uncertainty about the true extent of its problems.
The yield on Ireland’s 10-year bond climbed to 7.6 percent on Friday, expanding the gap with the 2.5 percent interest rate on comparable bonds issued by Germany, which is emerging most strongly from the European debt crisis.
Borrowing costs in Spain, Portugal and Greece also spiked upward again, as investor concern re-emerged that those countries would be hard-pressed to bring their deficits under control and avoid defaulting on their bonds.
Even as global stock markets rallied last week, those bond market jitters were a forceful reminder of how wary investors remained after Europe’s debt crisis last spring, despite the commitment of a combined 750 billion euros ($1.05 trillion) in bailout funds by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.