Greece’s Debt Issues Are Becoming a Global Black Hole

Sep 21, 2011, 12:44 pm EST

The extremely volatile markets of late stem in part from news suggesting Greece’s debt issues have made a default imminent — creating a global black hole that’s sucking in a growing number of other economies with it.

Default fears intensified last Friday when European finance ministers announced they would delay a decision on whether or not Greece was eligible for its sixth tranche of bailout funds. Greece was scheduled to get the next $11 billion (8 billion euros) installment of its $152.6 billion (110 billion euros) aid package by the end of September, but now must wait at least until October.

European Union and International Monetary Fund inspectors met with Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos last night to evaluate the country’s progress with austerity measures. Greece agreed to reduce its deficit to 7.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, and below 3% by 2014 in order to receive bailouts from the IMF and other euro nations. Read 

Will the Fed Channel Chubby Checker?

Sep 21, 2011, 11:00 am EST

Can the Federal Reserve save the economy — and the stock market — by “doing the twist”? Monday’s early rally for the Dow showed hope still is bubbling among some investors, even if it might not quite spring eternal. (The bounce largely faded by the close.)

Today, though, the nation’s central bank will announce the results of its two-day policy meeting in Washington — and the “hopers” are looking for Chairman Ben Bernanke to spin a dusty vinyl platter from the Federal Reserve’s oldies collection.

Back in the early 1960s, in an effort to stimulate a sluggish economy, the Fed — working hand-in-glove with the Kennedy administration’s Treasury Department — instituted Operation Twist. This maneuver called for the central bank to buy long-term Treasury bonds and simultaneously sell government paper with shorter maturities. Read 

Forget the Fed — It Won’t Matter Until 2013

Sep 20, 2011, 5:43 pm EST
Forget the Fed — It Won’t Matter Until 2013

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will be center stage at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting Wednesday. Will investors be greeted by some big news from Bernanke? Is there a so-called “Operation Twist” in the works?

Highly unlikely. The sad reality is the Fed just doesn’t have a lot of punch left. On top of that, Bernanke and the rest of the Fed are not very interested in making a lot of noise right now as critics sharpen their knives after QE2.

It all adds up to a whole lot of nothing from the Federal Reserve – today, tomorrow, and across every day for the next two years. Read 

Global Markets Continue Downtrend on Greece Woes

Sep 20, 2011, 9:00 am EST

Stocks in Asia, Europe and North America are falling as contagion from the Greek debt crisis continues to impact markets worldwide. Until there is some resolution, investors should expect this to continue along with intermittent sharp moves up thanks to central bank liquidity injections.

Trouble began in Asia last night with the Hang Seng in Hong Kong falling 537 points, or 2.8%. It closed at 18,918, well below the critical 20,000 support level. The Indian Sensex was down 188 points, or 1.1%, to 16,745. It has been leading Asian markets down and is trading on top of a very large gap made in May 2009. The Nikkei in Japan managed to buck the trend and close up 195 points to 8,864 or 2.3%. It has been mostly trading below key support at 10,000 since March when the Tohoku earthquake struck. All three markets are in a technically bearish trading pattern.

No part of the globe can escape what is happening in Europe. EU finance ministers said Friday they would delay authorizing a new installment of emergency funds for Greece until October. Greece still is on its first 110 billion euro bailout, but the final payments have yet to be made. A second bailout has yet to be fully approved, although the terms have been set. Greece’s fiscal situation continues to deteriorate rapidly despite all the funding it has received from the EU and the IMF. The bailout money is life support for Greece. If the plug is pulled, the patient defaults. Read 

5 Businesses That Will Suffer From a Post Office Overhaul

Sep 20, 2011, 5:00 am EST

The United States Postal Service is in dire straits. It is projecting a $6.4 billion loss and could run out of money by the end of the month without a Congressional bailout to meet pension requirements.

The driving forces behind the agency’s financial woes are many — a precipitous drop in mail volume because of the digital age, skyrocketing labor costs and an inefficient network populated with infrequently used rural post offices and routes that just don’t make sense financially.

As a result, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe asked Congress this month to untie his hands so he can make the kind of sweeping changes the organization needs to adjust. On the table are cuts to routes, office closures and even the elimination of Saturday delivery altogether. Read 

GOP Hatred of Taxes Could Result in More Layoffs

Sep 19, 2011, 8:02 am EST
GOP Hatred of Taxes Could Result in More Layoffs

House Speaker John Boehner gave a speech to the Economic Club of Washington last week that made waves. Strangely enough, the hubbub was because he said the GOP will oppose any tax increases.

Shocker.

The summer of discontent has produced no change in Republican talking points: we won’t raise taxes and Obama is responsible for everything that sounds scary, expensive or is a product of the federal bureaucracy. Read 

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