In the absence of meaningful U.S. data, European Central Bank rattling of the printing press has taken away some of the fearful bidding for Treasurys (10-year T-note in four days from 1.49 percent to 1.72 percent), and mortgage rates have risen a little as well. For us to return to interest rate lows or set new ones requires Armageddon over there or recession here. Instead, odds have risen for a new European can-kick, held for the moment by a new standoff: Spain and Italy need a lot of money, but those with the money will not offer it until asked. Spain and Italy will not ask until they know what strings will be attached. (No, I am not making this up.) Italy is the less weak of the two, and thus expects its promises alone will do, no strings. Spain already has strings: to cut its 8.5 percent of GDP budget deficit to 6.5 percent this year, to 4.5 percent next year, and to 2.8 percent in 2014. It's chances are about even with a six-legged, eight-eyed critter snapping an I...
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