Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

European crisis tests faith and fiction in financial markets

Commentary: U.S. will weather worst-case Euro-debt disaster
Published on Aug 19, 2011

"Volatility" is Wall Street's favorite term for losing your shirt. Volatility means down and up and down and up -- a transient emotional upset. That's not what this is. On July 21, the Dow set one of its highs since the "Great Recession" began, reaching 12,724. That was the same day that Europe announced its newest effort to save itself. On the next day the plan was exposed as a sham, and the Dow has since unraveled not quite 2,000 points. That is not "volatility." In the same span, the 10-year Treasury note has fallen almost 1 percent, and almost broken 2 percent for the first time since 1950. That is not an investment. That is cash running to mattresses. Only a minor portion of this trading traces to faltering recovery here. This is Europe. The most immediate and fatal hazard in Europe, growing all week long: Its banks, and the European Central Bank itself, are packed with sovereign bonds not worth face value. Exactly as the "Great Fr...

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