More toxic debt soon could come crashing through the global financial system. The surprising source: Europe Inc. Once-stodgy Old World companies, from cement makers to phone operators to chemical companies, went on an unprecedented borrowing spree over the past decade that has left them up to their necks in debt.

Corporate debt in the euro zone stands at more than $11tn, equalling some 95% of the region's economy, vs. only 50% in the US.

Speigel Online