Jeff's note: Last night, the European Union (EU) agreed on a plan to bailout Greece... again. The exact details of the plan were not disclosed. But it looks like Germany and France will put up most of the €110 billion required. I've argued before that any bailout deal for Greece will cripple the EU and eventually destroy the euro. Here's exactly how that'll happen...
Thursday, July 21, 2011
It was a mild summer afternoon. Agnes and Dieter were sitting at the patio table in their backyard, enjoying a lunch of schnitzel and sauerkraut, when Agnes broke the news to her husband. "Dieter," she said, "I'm afraid the neighbors are in trouble."
"Oh no," Dieter replied. "The Dubois family? That nice French family right next door? What happened?"
"No, no dear. Not the Dubois family," said Agnes. "They're fine. At least, I think they are – for now, anyway. I'm talking about the Papadopolouses."
"The who?" Dieter asked.
"The Papadopolouses," she responded. "You know... the Greek family... about 16 houses down the street on the left-hand side."
Dieter thought for a moment. "Is that the house where the beat-up, old cars are parked on the lawn... where the shirtless teenage kids hang around all day smoking cigarettes and trying to hook their shoestring-knotted sneakers on the power lines?"
"Hrrrummmph," Dieter groaned. "It doesn't surprise me that they're in trouble. What happened?"
"It's the same old story," Agnes said. "The family spent more than they earned. They got in over their heads with debt. They ran out of ways to borrow money. And now they're in trouble. So we have to help them out."
Dieter took a bite of his schnitzel. He slowly laid his knife and fork on the edge of his plate, raised his napkin to wipe the corner of his mouth, and dropped the napkin on the ground.
"Wait a minute," he gasped. "Is this the same family we were asked to give money to last year? The same family that promised to do better, to fix the broken shutters on their windows, to take down their Christmas lights by Easter, and to keep their damn goats from pooping on everyone else's lawns? Is this the same family that STILL owes us that money?"
Agnes nodded again.
"Die spinnen, die Griechen," Dieter grumbled. "I won't bail them out again. I refuse."
"We don't have any choice, mein strudel," Agnes replied. "We have to. Don't you remember 13 years ago when we first moved into this neighborhood? We joined the Homeowners Association. Inside that big pile of documents we signed, we agreed to assist our neighbors financially... for the good of the neighborhood. The Association requires us to pay. They'd like us to come up with the money within two weeks."
"Das ist ridiculous!" Dieter exclaimed. "Where was the Association when the Papadopolouses were on a spending spree? Didn't the Greeks sign the same pile of documents when they moved in? Certainly the Papadopolous family has to comply with the same rules as we do."
"Yes, they do," said Agnes. "But the Association can't enforce the rules against the Greeks right now. They're broke. Forcing them to stick to the rules might run the Papadopolouses out of the neighborhood."
"That's fine by me," Dieter responded. "Getting rid of those deadbeats can only improve the neighborhood."
"It doesn't work that way," Agnes continued. "If the Papadopolouses leave, the Association fears it'll bring down the property values of all the rest of the homes. They fear it'll actually destroy the neighborhood. So, you see, we have to come up with the money to bail them out."
"Well, OK then," Dieter conceded. "I don't like it... not one bit. But if it saves the neighborhood, I suppose it will eventually work out for the best. At least we're all in this together, right? I mean, everybody else on the block is chipping in too, right?"
"Well..." Agnes hesitated, "not exactly. The Dubois family is in, of course. But, most of our other neighbors are already tapped out. Mr. O'Brien lost his job over a year ago and the unemployment benefits are running out. The Romanos lost all their money in a Ponzi scheme. Mr. & Mrs. Almada aren't selling as much Port as they used to. And the Rodriguez family isn't any better off than the Papadopolouses."
"In fact," Agnes continued, "the Association is probably going to ask us to help out all these other families as well. You know... for the good of the neighborhood."
"Hrrrummmph," Dieter groaned again. "So that's how this is going to turn out, is it? The entire neighborhood riding on the back of our checkbook?"
"Agnes," Dieter continued, "my little lederhosen, perhaps it's time for us to start looking for another place to live. I hear a nice home just opened up for sale down the street from the Changs. Maybe we should check it out."
Beste regards und gutes trading,
"The problems in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and other countries are about to destroy the European Union (EU)," Jeff wrote last month. "And as the EU breaks apart, the euro will dissolve right along with it." Read his take on the worldwide implications here: The European Union Is About to Collapse.
"In Greece today, the people want their government to fulfill all its promises for pensions and wages. The problem is, the promises were too big, and now Greece is broke. There is no money to pay for the promises," Steve writes. "The story in the U.S. is the same." Get the full story here: Greece Is Going Bust... And the U.S. Is Following Right Behind.
"Picks and shovels" oil stocks Halliburton and Baker Hughes are both up more than 34% so far in 2011.
China Mobile breaks out to a three-month high... its subscriber base is nearly twice the U.S. population.
Ag boom pushes shares of fertilizer companies CF Industries and Terra Nitrogen to two-year highs.
Google soars more than 20% over the past month.