UNINTENDED OUTCOME: Italy's election has spooked global investors because it raises unsettling questions about the availability of the financial safety net that has kept Europe from catastrophe for the past six months.
CUT COSTS OR ELSE: The Italian vote rejecting austerity leaves the country vulnerable if its borrowing costs rise to unmanageable levels. The European Central Bank won't buy unlimited quantities of struggling countries' bonds unless the participants commit to austerity.
NO DANGER YET: So far, Italy's borrowing costs have risen only moderately. But the fear is that continuing turmoil could let them climb toward the heights of late 2011 and early 2012 — a hefty 7 percent.