DUBLIN — Anger and fear about Europe's seemingly unstoppable debt crisis coursed through the continent Wednesday. Striking workers shut down much of Portugal, Ireland proposed its deepest budget cuts in history, and seething Italian and British students clashed with police over education cuts.
Amid it all, analysts were deeply skeptical about the future — saying even the desperate efforts of governments, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund might not be enough to prevent countries from defaulting or banks from going under.
The Irish Stock Exchange saw a bloodbath in bank stocks as investors pushed the panic button, and bond traders were betting that it would only be a matter of time before Portugal and possibly Spain would be the next countries begging for outside help.
In Lisbon, strikers all but closed the airport, stranding passengers who couldn't get in or out of the country.
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Commuter Luis Moreira, catching one of the last trains out of Lisbon, said Europe's woes only seem to be getting worse by the day. He supported the growing outrage over salary and pension cuts and wondered why billions were being thrown instead at governments and banks.
"People have to fight for their rights," Moreira, 51, told the Associated Press. "People have to fight against what is happening."
Italian students occupied university buildings and piazzas to denounce education cuts being debated by Parliament, clashing briefly with police in Rome and blocking five main bridges over the River Arno in Pisa.
In Britain, students decried government plans to triple tuition fees.
"Education is not a rich kid's game," said Tash Holway, a 19-year-old student in London. "If this keeps up, the entire industry will change. It won't be about talent, but only about who can pay."
While Irish bank shares plummeted for a third straight day amid fears investors would be wiped out, yields on Portuguese and Spanish government debt shot up sharply because of rising concerns that their debt loads will prove unsustainable and put them next in line for European bailouts.
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced Wednesday that he now expects the EU-IMF bailout loan to total $115 billion.