Ward McCarthy, managing director at Jefferies & Co., said that despite being “exhausted” by the long-running soap opera in Europe, investors can’t stop watching because so much is at stake.
“It’s like a bad marriage, now too costly to break up,” he said. “Investors are exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the events. … With its political, social-economic and financial complexities, Europe appears to be too difficult to understand, too big to bail out and too risky to lend to.”
Investors have been reacting to every headline that crosses the screen without much deep analysis, he said.
“You either believe that Europe gets fixed or you don’t; there’s little chance that the market will be appeased by a compromise solution.”
Investors are bracing for a default by Greece or other countries, which would become the “ground zero” of a nuclear bomb hitting the banking system and global economy, he said.
While the summit accord failed to calm most market fears, it wasn’t completely “a damp squib,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.
In particular, the accord added a great deal of “firepower” to the International Monetary Fund and the European stability funds established to bail out failing governments, he said.
Healthy European countries are contributing another $270 billion to the IMF to be available to help stressed European countries, and are making nearly $1 trillion available through the European funds, although some of that already has been committed to helping Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
But the resources available are still too limited to contain the crisis should Spain and Italy “run into serious problems,” Mr. Archer said, estimating that the borrowing needs of those two large countries will amount to $795 billion in the next year or so.
The pact also contains nothing to address the big trade imbalances within the eurozone that contributed to the crisis, he said, and it contains nothing to prevent the kinds of housing and credit bubbles that brought down Spain and Ireland.
“This is far from a complete solution to the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, and market pressure is likely to remain high for further action,” he said.
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