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  • Greece Poised to Default & Exit the Euro

    Greece is coming dangerously close to defaulting on its debt, especially if the next round of bailout loans doesn't happen. Those loans are predicated on Greece continuing its austerity programs to balance its budget. Greece will hold its next national elections on June 17, and the party that is expected to win vows to roll back the austerity measures mandated by the EU and the ECB. At the least, it looks like we're headed for fireworks just ahead.

    The burning question: Is there any way that Greece can default on its debt and withdraw from the euro without causing a global financial crisis. Some believe there is. Today, I present such a plan that was suggested by Nouriel Roubini last Friday. But I will also tell you that I don't believe that the EU, especially Germany, will go along with Roubini's plan. Germany's Chancellor Andrea Merkel reportedly made that clear to President Obama last Saturday in a private meeting following the G-8 summit in Chicago.

    No one knows what will happen with Greece just ahead, but a debt default and an exit from the EU and the euro are now quite likely later this year. This is even more of a threat if the Left Coalition in Greece wins the elections on June 17. Obviously, this is having a very negative effect of the stock markets, making it all the more important to have investment professionals on your team.

    On Thursday we are hosting our latest online WEBINAR featuring Yacktman Capital Group, the latest money manager to make it onto our recommended list. The Webinar will be this Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Yacktman's founder, Brian Yacktman, will talk about his successful "value-investing" strategy and how it works. There will be time for questions from audience members. With the recent decline in the stock market, now may be an excellent time to consider putting some money with Yacktman Capital Group.

    You can attend the free Webinar on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern by CLICKING HERE. I hope you'll join us!

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  • Is the Fed Now Leaning Toward QE3?

    Since late last year, the consensus has been that the Fed will not enact more quantitative easing, or QE3, since the economy is slowly improving. Yet there is new evidence which suggests that the Fed may yet implement QE3, despite the fact that QE is unpopular politically. If this is the case, and no one knows for sure, I would expect the Fed to announce QE3 no later than this summer and maybe even sooner. They don't want to do something unpopular during the election season in the last half of this year.

    Following that discussion, we turn to Europe and the fact that the European Central Bank has now made over $3 trillion in bailout loans to banks across the region. That tops even our own Fed which has $2.9 trillion on its balance sheet! Greece has reportedly completed its huge bond swap in which investors took a haircut of 70%. In return, it appears that Greece will get its much needed second bailout loan of 130 billion euros. While Greece may be off the front pages for now, it won’t be for long.

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  • Greek Soap Opera Continues to Roil Markets

    While Greece is but a small country, its debt crisis continues to influence financial markets around the world on an almost daily basis. It is not unusual for news from Greece to send the global stock markets up or down 2-3% in a single day. Events in Greece are unfolding daily, including the resignation of its Prime Minister, George Papandreou, just last Sunday. As this is written, a new coalition government is being formed in Greece to pave the way for the latest €130 billion ($180 billion) bailout package agreed to by European leaders late last month.

    In addition to Greece's troubles, the European debt crisis is spreading to other Eurozone countries. Italy appears to be the next domino to fall, and Spain may not be far behind. Italy has the eighth largest economy in the world based on GDP and the fourth largest in Europe. If Italy has to be bailed out, it would likely spark another global financial crisis that could make 2008 look tame. The latest G-20 summit in France failed to do anything to avert another financial crisis in Europe. Surprise, surprise!

    Given the deteriorating situation in Europe, expect stock market volatility to remain very high in the months ahead. Investors are scared by the events unfolding in Greece and the rest of Europe and are herding out of stocks and equity mutual funds in droves. I can't say that I blame them. Near the end of today's letter, I offer some advice on what these investors on the sidelines should consider doing with their money that is no longer invested in the stock markets.

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  • Fed Offers Bailout of European Banks

    Last Thursday we learned that the US Federal Reserve has decided to make unlimited US dollar loans (swaps) to the European Central Bank (ECB) and directly to European money center banks that are in trouble, at least through the end of this year. And what will the Fed get in return as collateral? Eurodollars that are quickly falling in value as of late. So even as our own economy may be falling back into recession, the Fed sees fit to bail out the European banks that are sinking in sovereign debt from the likes of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

    All eyes are on tomorrow's Fed Open Market Committee policy statement. The Fed is expected to announce its so-called "Operation Twist" strategy that is intended to lower medium and long-term interest rates, which may or may not work. Some people expect the Fed to comment on its latest decision to make unlimited US dollar loans to European banks, but I will be very surprised if they mention a word about it. They're keeping it very quiet (which is another good reason to read my E-Letters and blog postings).

    Speaking of blog postings, I will write about tomorrow's Fed policy decision on my blog before the end of the day tomorrow. Go to www.GaryDHalbert.com and subscribe to read my take on the Fed's announcement.

    Following the Fed discussion, I will bring you the highlights of the latest report on US poverty from the Census Bureau. Poverty is now at an all-time high. Ditto for the number of Americans that depend on food stamps, according to the Department of Agriculture. These two reports are very troubling.

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  • European Debt Crisis Revisited - Implications For the US

    Today we take a fresh look at the European debt crisis which is worsening. Just over a month ago, EU leaders agreed on a second bailout loan for Greece to keep it from defaulting. That bailout loan had to be approved by all EU member nations, and several have refused to do so unless Greece can put up collateral. This has caused the bailout agreement to unravel and Germany's Chancellor Andrea Merkel is frantically trying to put it back together. If she fails, we could get another serious shock to the equity markets in the US.

    Meanwhile, the European Central Bank began buying huge chunks of government bonds from Italy and Spain to keep their credit markets functioning. Some argue that the ECB is not authorized to make such purchases but it is doing so anyway. It remains to be seen just how long the ECB can continue this large-scale quantitative easing. In any event, the European debt crisis is worsening, and I continue to believe that it will have more negative consequences for our markets here.

    A new CNN poll found that Americans' confidence in Congress is at a new low. For the first time ever, a majority of Americans want the bums in Washington voted out of office -- including their own Representatives in Congress. In past polls a majority wanted some members of Congress kicked out, but not their own Representatives. You'll find this story very interesting. Finally, I leave you today with a very good article written by Tony Blankley who offers President Obama some advice for his major speech on Thursday night.

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  • Why Greece Matters to You and Me

    The sovereign debt crisis in Greece is rapidly spreading to much of the rest of Europe. In addition to Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, Italy is now in question. Italy has the third largest bond market on earth behind the US and Japan. Today I bring you a sobering assessment of the European debt crisis from our old friends at Stratfor.com, which is one of the most alarming analyses I have ever read from them. I also bring you an even more alarming evaluation from GaveKal Research, a leading forecaster based in Hong Kong.

    The bottom line is that another global financial crisis may be just around the corner, in weeks or months, and I believe this could spark the next major bear market in the US and global stock markets. I suggest you read today's E-Letter very carefully and begin to think about what you need to do to protect your investment portfolio and your retirement nestegg. Time may be very short as events in Europe are unfolding very rapidly, and no one knows for sure what will happen next. This may be one of the most timely E-Letters I have ever written.

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  • Europe's Trillion-Dollar Bailout - Can It Work

    On April 12, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased the capacity of its emergency lending fund from $50 billion to $550 billion, a ten-fold increase. Less than a month later, the European Union announced a near $1 trillion bailout fund to aid Greece and any other countries in Europe that may get into trouble. At the same time, the EU announced that the IMF will be chipping in apprx. one-third ($321 billion) of the near $1 trillion bailout. Since the US is the IMF's largest contributor, this means that US taxpayers will be footing part of the bill to bailout Greece and possibly other European countries. Isn't that just dandy! And it gets even worse, so be sure to read on.

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  • Another Financial Crisis To Come

    America is headed for another much more serious financial crisis in the coming years. Trillion dollar annual budget deficits are skyrocketing our national debt - now at a record $12.6 trillion - which is on track to more than double over the next decade. Moody's, one of the nation's oldest credit rating firms, warned recently that the US government could lose its triple-A credit rating in a few years if the current runaway spending is not reversed.

    Whether the government loses its triple-A credit rating or not, those who buy our trillions in government Treasury securities are becoming increasingly nervous about our ability to make good on those supposedly risk-free obligations. Foreigners own over half of our outstanding national debt. When these creditors decide they no longer trust our commitment to make good on this exploding debt, we will enter a financial and currency crisis that will make 2008 look like a walk in the park.

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