Troubling economic news mounts
Commentary: Watch for dropping shoes
Financial markets stayed in tight ranges all week — not at all calm, just waiting for more falling footwear.
Whistling noises from above: Greece is going to default, and soon, and its creditors are going to pretend that it hasn’t, but the default will trigger obligations under credit-default swaps, the contagion vector to banks, followed by other “Club Med” nations wanting the same non-default default.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech on Tuesday snipped the suspenders holding optimists’ pants: The economy has slowed but will do better in six months (uh-huh), no new stimulus coming. Trying to pull pants up while texting “SELL!” can prove scandalous (see: Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.), even if perps have seen the Bernanke movie before.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) refused to increase production, with impoverished members enjoying high prices (Iran, Venezuela), and Saudis understanding the damage to customers. The no-shortage story that speculators are responsible for $100 per barrel prices no longer holds crude.