On the heels of alarming news that the European economy has been growing much slower than expected, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a euro-zone economic council to try to quiet the fear raging in European markets. "We want to state our absolute will to defend the euro," Sarkozy said. The new body would meet twice a year, or more if necessary. Merkel and Sarkozy, the leaders of Europe’s two largest economies, will propose in September a new tax on financial transactions and a requirement that all 17 euro member states balance their budgets by next summer. Meanwhile, U.S. stocks plummeted Tuesday on fears that the European economy would crash.