The Greek Catastrophe Is Finally Here (Unless It Isn’t)

It was a grim weekend in Greece, and it’s likely to be an even grimmer week ahead, both for the Greeks and the European (and possibly world) economy. What wouldnormally be the beginning of the profitable tourist season—a summer idyll in the lovely Greek islands and crowds piling into the Parthenon—has turned into the next chapter of the slow-motion economic train wreck that the world has been witnessing queasily since 2011. Now the wreck is finally here, and the only real question—the one none of us can really answer—is whether it will be modest or huge.

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Are the Germans Going to Crash the World Economy?

As Greece squeezes by without a “Grexit” — earlier this week eurozone ministers approved a four-month bailout extension— markets, politicians, pundits are far calmer today than they were a few years ago. Back then, in the fall of 2011, the prospect of a eurozone without Greece sent global markets into turmoil. Granted, it was bad year, what with a near-U.S. debt default and pervasive fears of a European Monetary Union undone by mountains of bad bank debt. By late November 2011, international credit markets were exhibiting the same danger signs of stress that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, and it appeared that the long-feared next stage of a global financial implosion was at hand. It took the simultaneously actions of the world’s central banks, followed by a “final” bailout of Greece by the “troika” of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the Eurozone countries to the tune of 240 billion Euros.

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Don’t Turn America Into Europe

The Europeans—some of them, anyway—are finally beginning to concede that austerity has gone awry. There’s less growth, more structural unemployment, little bank lending and economic contraction. And now, of course, we have a political backlash in the person of Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Greece’s Syriza party, who upon winning the prime ministership last Sunday declared grandly (and probably over-optimistically) that Greece will now “leave behind the austerity that ruined it.”

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Our Hero, Ben Bernanke: Why Central Bankers (Not Politicians) Are Saving the Global Economy

The Federal Reserve just announced a new round of measures designed to keep the money flowing. Central bankers -- not to be confused with the heads of private banks that have received so much opprobrium for their role in the financial crises of the past years - are not noted for their charisma or their communication skills, but their role in shaping today's world, shadowy at times, could hardly be greater. The question is: Are they helping or harming?

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The Fed’s Forthright Admission About Our Messy Economic Situation

The Federal Reserve concluded its June meeting today with a statement and a Ben Bernanke press conference. A variety of measures were announced, including an extension of an arcane but consequential policy of buying hundreds of billions of dollars of Treasury bonds ($267 billion to be exact) in order to keep interest rates low, on top of the $400 billion the Fed has already purchased since last September.

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Markets’ Mania Persists as Stocks Soar on News of Eurozone Deal

In yet another chapter in the manic saga of global markets, stocks soared Thursday around the world after European leaders announced yet another comprehensive plan to solve—once and for all?—the deepening sovereign-debt crisis. The outpouring of optimism was given an added boost by the release in the United States of third-quarter economic figures that indicated GDP increased 2.5 percent, and the icing on the proverbial cake was supplied by news that the Chinese government would potentially add some of its trillions in reserves to help shore up ailing European finances.

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Markets’ Mood Swings Show Volatility, Don’t Signal Financial Armageddon

Once more into the breach we go. After a strong week where markets regained some footing, Monday once again saw a sharp selloff of nearly 2 percent. These wildly volatile days have been the norm since mid-summer, and as any market maven will attest, such volatility usually means that there is more to come.

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Stock Plunge, Day Two: How the Dow is Dealing with Japan

For the second day in the row, the US stock market plunged, and then bounced back. Hurt, yes, but shares were not beaten, even as investors had to worry about the double whammy of concerns of nuclear contamination in Japan and a housing report that showed new home construction plunged more than it had in 27 months. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 300, before ending the day down 240 points. It wasn’t as big a bounce back on Tuesday, but we still didn’t end the day at the lows, which was a good sign.

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