Greek Debt Crisis, $100 Oil, Nets Get Revenge On Lin: Seven And A Half Things To Know
Thing One: Greece's Moment Of Truthiness: Well, it's all over, folks. That whole Greek-debt thing. All solved. While you were opening gifts under your Presidents Day Tree, those heathen Europeans, who don't even believe in Presidents Day, were working to secure Greece its latest 130 billion-euro loan to help it cover a big debt payment due in March. Default avoided. Europe saved. Except the euro and European stocks are waffling this morning because, Bloomberg reckons, of "speculation the latest pact won’t solve Greece’s debt woes." Do we even need to speculate? No, according to a debt-sustainability analysis, obtained by the Financial Times, that says Greece will likely need yet another bailout. And while we're picking nits with this rescue, let's also remember that Greece's economy needs more austerity now like it needs a hole in its budget. Thank you, we're here all week. There are also the small matters of how many private investors will sign up for the deal, how much the IMF will pitch in, and whether any of this will get past lawmakers in Germany, Finland and elsewhere. To name a few, as The Wall Street Journal's Euro Crisis blog does.
Thing Two: There Will Be Pain At the Gas Pump: While you were carving the Presidents Day turkey on Monday, crude-oil prices were continuing their slow ascent toward the moon. Nymex crude futures settled above $103 a barrel, after at one point touching $105, as tensions between Iran and pretty much every country west of Istanbul continue to rise. What's Iran gone and done this time? Threatened to cut off oil exports to France and the UK. From a supply/demand perspective this is no big deal, writes The Wall Street Journal. The problem is more the rising fear of these tensions leading to something more substantive, like war.
Thing Three: Earning And Burning: We get a slew of corporate earnings reports today, including from computer maker Dell, but mainly from retailers such as Wal-Mart, Macy's and Home Depot. As our nation's economy is essentially one long strip mall, it will be interesting to hear what these companies have to say about demand, past and future. The trouble is that companies are increasingly loath to make predictions about future earnings, the FT writes, a level of uncertainty not seen since 2009.
Thing Four: Fed To World: Do Not Disturb: Speaking of being tight-lipped, the Federal Reserve has been making sweeping changes to the nation's financial regulations without even telling anybody about it, write Victoria McGrane and Jon Hilsenrath in The Wall Street Journal. Since the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the Fed has held 47 separate votes on regulatory changes with hardly any public meetings. Former FDIC chair Sheila Bair grumbles on the record about this, but the Fed's defenders say public airings of the process "don't always add value" and could cut into the Fed's busy schedule.
Thing Five: Worst Of Both Health-Insurance Worlds: High-deductible health-insurance plans, which offer worse coverage at a higher cost, are all the rage these days, writes The Huffington Post's own Jeffrey Young. Expect them to stick around: "High-deductible health insurance plans will be eligible to be sold starting in 2014 on the insurance 'exchanges' created by the health reform law that passed in 2010. With their lower monthly price tags, these plans could prove popular, especially among younger and healthier people betting they won’t have to go to the doctor or the hospital or need costly prescription drugs."
Thing Six: Foreclosure Fears: The mortgage-foreclosure process has long been a Kafka-esque nightmare, resulting in a $26 billion mortgage settlement designed to punish banks and force them to make the process better. That settlement may not punish the banks much. And it may not make the foreclosure process any less Kafka-esque, warns The New York Times, because it's still not entirely clear whether it will force banks to give borrowers one point person to deal with their case.
Thing Seven: Baby-Faced Start-Ups: Soon venture capitalists are going to start hanging out at pre-schools looking for the next big thing. Reuters reports that VC cash is increasingly going to start-ups founded by people who are not even old enough to drink legally in this country. "'I was 9 years old' during the first Internet boom, says Brian Wong, 20, who runs reward-network Kiip."
Thing Seven And One Half: Over two games in the past two days, Jeremy Lin has scored 49 points and made 23 assists, adding more water and fertilizer to his growing reputation. But his New York Knicks have gone 1-1 in that stretch, topping the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, but then falling at home to the lowly New Jersey Nets, the team against which Lin started his remarkable run. Nets guard Deron Williams takes responsibility for getting Linsanity started and did his best to try to slow the phenomenon last night, scoring 38 points in the win. In happier news, Stephen Colbert is back, and his mom is OK.