If one buys into reactions of global markets, including the New York Stock Exchange and Dow Jones Industrials Average, they could go to sleep at night with little concern that the Eurozone financial crisis is a ticking time bomb, just waiting to explode with global implications that ripple back to the U.S.
On Thursday, for instance, an agreement to attempt to contain the European debt crisis through a deal crafted by leaders to slash Greece's debt load in hopes of avoiding a ripple impact to larger countries like Italy sent the DJIA up almost 340 points. Similarly, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up, and on track for its best month since 1974.
The markets acted Thursday like Europe's problems -- and conversely resulting problems for the U.S. and the world's other large economies -- had been put to bed.
But that's hardly the case, since it's not the simple. Higher equity prices bring more buyers, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will, while lower prices promote more selling. That, in a nutshell, is one reason markets can give the illusion to the everyday citizen that everything is now okay -- a little hope in equities quickly gets exaggerated.
But everything is not okay -- though one hates to be the naysayer.
It's just that reality tells a different story, one much different from market reactions and hopes pinned upon the deal reached among European leaders to keep Greece, the first shoe, from falling so that Italy doesn't tumble next setting off a dangerous ripple impact that would send the world into a major financial crisis.
Concerns Remain in Europe
As one financial industry observer said, Europe is in a slow meltdown shadowed by denial. Pressure to avoid a meltdown pushes leaders to keep buying time by taking on more debt to solve the problem. The problem, however, hasn't really been solved. It's just been averted for the time being.
The market keeps on thinking that it's put Europe's problems to bed, but it's like putting a three-year old to bed: You might put it there but it won't stay there, David Kelly, chief market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, told The Associated Press.
Kelly is right, of course. Debt problems in Europe will remain a concern until economies in struggling nations like Greece and Portugal start to grow again, Kelly said.
Contagion has been the concern -- the dreaded ripple effect from Greece, which is broke and broker. For the moment, that's been averted, but if conditions in Greece don't improve -- and there's little hope on that horizon at the moment -- then this problem has no end in sight, regardless of appearances in global markets.
Measures revealed by the Eurozone leaders didn't properly address the problem, said Harvard University economist Kenneth Rogoff.
This was absolutely not decisive, said Rogoff, a former International Monetary Fund chief economist, an a Bloomberg Television interview. They're just trying to keep Greece in the game.
Fitch, the ratings agency, has already said that Greece bonds will remain in the junk status, even amid the progress.
That means this dangerous game is far from over.
It's also not relegated just to Europe. As another financial industry observer said, the global debt issue concern will be back across the ocean soon, and in the court of the U.S. It's called the Eurozone crisis at the moment, but by the time the Congressional Super-Committee in the U.S. nears a deadline less than a month away to agree upon a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction over the next decade, fears will focus on America.
Global Focus Will Turn to Super-Committee
Finding resolve in the Deficit Super Committee may not be as easy as some hope, after all. And if they can't find accord, then it's the Debt Deal negotiations and S&P downgrade of the U.S. debt rating all over again.
Hope, however, does remain that the U.S. won't make the situation worse.
I remain encouraged that the members of the Joint Select Committee know how serious the situation is, said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, according to ABC News. I believe they are all committed to achieving the goal, and until the stroke of midnight on November 22 we still have plenty of time to do the committee's work.
Let's hope they find resolve, since a lot of riding on agreement for the $1.5 trillion deficit reduction.
It will be one of the single best things we can do to give confidence to our own people, to give confidence to business and consumers, and to strengthen confidence around in the world in America's ability to meet the challenges that confront it, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters at his pen and pad briefing Tuesday.
Hoyer is right -- failure by the super committee would create a new focus of global concern.
And even if the super committee finds resolve and meets the deadline with a positive result, that still doesn't bring the global financial crisis to an end. Despite the action from Eurozone leaders, it's still just a question of how long the three-year-old can stay in the bed.