CUTS GO THROUGH: Italian Premier Mario Monti easily won a vote of confidence in the Senate on Thursday, signaling parliamentary approval of the government's euro30 billion ($39 billion) package of tax hikes and pension changes.

WHY IT MATTERS: The austerity package is intended to save the country from financial disaster. Investors have grown concerned that Italy will have trouble paying down its euro1.9 trillion ($2.5 trillion) debt load.

PROTESTS: One of the most disputed reforms is that of Italy's generous pension system. Italians will have to work longer. Unions staged strikes and demonstrations last week to protest the measures.