The euro has continued to slide downward against most major currencies as investors and speculators continue to show signs of nervousness surrounding the sovereign debt crisis.

The PIIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain) are still the main focus, and the spotlight has been shining especially bright on Ireland as of late. Irish bonds slid yesterday for the 10th consecutive day -- the longest drop in almost two years. Accordingly, the extra spread on Portuguese and Irish bonds comparable to German bonds has widened to historical levels. Portugal's 10-year bond over German debt is about 4.5%, whereas the spread on Irish 10-year bonds is about 5.5%.

Although Greece has so far lived up to its fiscal austerity expectations, investors aren't too confident in its ability to stay on course. According to the Council of Foreign Relations, it may be just a matter of time until it defaults. It states that if and when Greece wipes out its primary deficit, it will actually benefit the country more to default on debt than to have to seek out the financial markets for current expenses. These types of theories keep bond spreads at all-time highs, and also help crush financial stocks.

In the past month, despite the S&P 500's 5% gain, eurozone bank stocks have taken a beating. Check out the table below illustrating the past month's returns:



1-Month Return

Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE)



Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB)



Banco Santander (NYSE: STD)



Banco Bilbao Viscaya (NYSE: BBVA)



National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG)



Source: Google Finance.

This comes when other banks, such as UBS (NYSE: UBS) and Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB), have actually seen slight gains in the past month, so it's apparent that the extreme losses are mostly isolated to the PIIGS.

I'd keep my eye on Ireland, as officials are supposed to meet with the EU's Economic and Monetary Affairs commissioner to illustrate that the country has the spending cutting power to avoid a Greek-style bailout. On Monday, the government presented its plans for changes to the EU, which the EU can alter. What happens during that meeting may dictate whether some of these stocks take off, or continue plummeting further. Stay tuned.

Jordan DiPietro owns shares of National Bank of Greece. The Fool also owns shares of National Bank of Greece. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy loves cats. Sometimes.