Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Greece Passes Austerity; Next Up: US Debt Limit

While there was little doubt that the Greek parliament would "do the right thing" and pass the 5-year austerity package in order to secure another $17 billion in their continuing slavish relationship with the IMF, ECB and EU, the results on the streets of Athens suggest that the plan may not be to the liking of the average Greek, if there is such a creature.

Imagine this happening in the United States. A consortium of banks hold the US government hostage, saying, in effect, "do this, or we cut off your allowance." The this being the layoff of thousands of government employees, wage cuts for others, a 10% tax increase and the selling off (privatization) of state assets, one wonders how the Greek populace will like living in abject poverty for the remainder of their lives. In America, one need not wonder. It would most likely pass, but the popular fury and anger would be ferocious.

So it is in Greece, where protesters hailed rocks and stocks at police throughout the day and police returned with salvos of tear gas. There was a great deal of looting and confrontation with the police, but few arrests. It seems the Greek police, some of whom will be paid less in a few weeks than they are now, or may not have jobs at all, have a bit of a heart for their countrymen and women.

Essentially, along with the 10% tax increase, services will be cut by about 25%, along with available government positions and wages. $50 in Greek assets will be privatized, begging the question of just what the Parthenon may be worth to some European oligarch-trash who wish to add it to their art collection.

The measure passed with a vote of 155-138, with some abstentions, since the Greek parliament is comprised of 300 members. But one has to wonder just how long it will last before the money-starved Greeks begin to turn on the government again and again, seeing the bailout as nothing more than another stalling tactic for a bankrupt nation and largesse for the elitist bankers.

Stocks and commodities both were buoyed by the passage, as the globalists averted another crisis in the flawed and corrupt fiat money system. So, the result, higher prices for everything, except, of course, wages.

The next chink in the armor to be fixed would be the US insolvency issue, that of raising the debt debt ceiling so the world's largest net creditor can continue to borrow and spend until the elections of 2012, at least. The deadline of August 2nd approaches with all due haste, though both houses of congress will not be convened at the same time, if they keep to their schedules.

The House was already in recess this week and will be until July 5th, though the senate recess - scheduled for July 4-10, is in doubt, with Democrats seeking to cancel it, and Republicans all too willing to stay in Pro Forma session, fearing recess appointments by the President.

With any luck, the tow houses of financial horror could actually do some deal-making between the 10t of July and the August 2 deadline, and that would be almost a surety, as both houses will recess on August 8 and not return until September 5, after Labor Day and well beyond the statutory constraints of passing a new debt ceiling.

Just like in Greece, however, it's expected that the senate and the president will approve some kind of deal at the last moment, ensuring maximum discomfort and anxiety for the good people of America. Of course, any talk of a balanced budget amendment, currently being espoused by various Republicans, should be recognized immediately as a complete sham, though there is some hope that some semblance of spending restraint may be written into any new bill. The long money is on the government beating the deadline by days and getting back to doing what they do best, spending money they don't have.

Dow 12,261.42, +72.73 (0.60%)
NASDAQ 2,740.49, +11.18 (0.41%)
S&P 500 1,307.41, +10.74 (0.83%)
NYSE Composite 8,228.50, +92.52 (1.14%)

Gainers beat losers by a solid margin, 4185-2361. On the NASDAQ, new highs were better than new lows by a 100-29 margin, while on the NYSE, the new highs outnumbered new lows, 81-14. The combined total of 181 new highs to 43 new lows suggests that we're back to "risk on" for the foreseeable future, though, being summer, a sideways trend always has great potential. Volume was light, but not actually awful.

NASDAQ Volume 1,816,885,000
NYSE Volume 4,316,723,500

WTI crude futures rose remarkably again, up $1.88, to $94.77, along with gasoline, which has been rocketing of late. The most recent price gouges have not shown up at the punp yet, though they surely will by the weekend. AAA reports that the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular is $3.54, with higher price in the more populous states of the Northeast and West coast.

Gold got a little nibble of a bid, rising $9.10, to $1511.20. Silver spiked 92 cents, to $34.86.

Tomorrow morning initial unemployment claims numbers may do damage to the current three-day rally in stocks, though a positive report could produce more cries of "soft patch" and a continuation of the "risk on" trade.

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