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Such, at least, are the resentful stereotypes that are increasingly jumping from pub conversation and tabloid pages into the mainstream political discourse.

It’s all a sign that a psychological fissure between northern and southern countries in the European Union is deepening under the strain of the financial crisis. Analysts say the rift threatens Europe’s currency union every bit as much as interest rates and deficits.

“National resentments in Europe are rising to dramatic levels,” said Vincent Forest, a London-based economist with the Economist Intelligence Unit. “By taking so much time in solving the economic crisis, the Europeans are creating a political and social crisis.”

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