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European Debt Crisis Back On The Boil: Seven And A Half Things

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A woman uses an ATM cash point machine at a branch of the Bankia bank in Madrid Thursday May 17, 2012. Bankia's bailout by the Spanish government has been a focus of the latest flareup of the European debt crisis.
A woman uses an ATM cash point machine at a branch of the Bankia bank in Madrid Thursday May 17, 2012. Bankia's bailout by the Spanish government has been a focus of the latest flareup of the European debt crisis.

Thing One: Europe, The Re-En-Crisising: That whistling sound you're hearing this morning is the European debt crisis coming once again to full boil.

Spanish 10-year bond yields are approaching 7 percent, above which is a sort of Mount Everest-like Death Zone for government borrowing costs. Previously, Greece, Portugal and Ireland spent too much time above 7 percent and had to be bailed out by Europe. What's causing the spike in Spanish borrowing costs is more of the usual dysfunction by Europe's "leaders:" Spain had floated the idea of a backdoor European Central Bank bailout for its giant mortgage lender Bankia, with Spain buying the bank's debt and then swapping it for some low-interest loans from the ECB. The ECB shot that idea down, the Financial Times reports, sniffing that it would never deign to directly finance a sovereign government that way, though it has often been doing precisely that by buying government debt in the bond market. News of this spat has Europe in a panicky state this morning.

Italian bond yields are approaching 6 percent, an unhealthy level not seen since December, and European stocks and the euro are tumbling on word of the spat between Spain and the ECB. Let's see, what else is going on in this six-ring circus? Oh, yes, Chinese banks are backing away from lending money to European banks, the Wall Street Journal reports, even as other Chinese companies are swooping in to buy Spanish companies on the cheap. For some reason European business confidence is way down, according to a new poll. And let's not forget about Greece, which continues to teeter on the precipice of falling out of the euro zone altogether. Apparently most of its bailout money from Europe goes right back to Europe, The New York Times reports, which is a fitting metaphor for the self-reinforcing feedback loops that keep Europe in a constant state of emergency.

Thing Two: RIM Shot: Speaking of things that are perpetually dying, Research In Motion. The Blackberry maker has been in existential freefall for years now and appears to be approaching an endgame. It said yesterday that it expects to suffer a second straight quarterly loss and has hired advisers to help it figure out what to do next, which might include finding "strategic business model alternatives," an awesome euphemism for selling itself. Hey, we hear Facebook is looking to buy a phone maker.

Thing Three: Facebook's Beatings Continue: Speaking of Facebook, the social network completes this morning's freefall trifecta. Its shares sank nearly 10 percent on Tuesday to $28.84, even as the broader market rallied. The stock has tumbled 24 percent from its IPO price of $38 less than two weeks ago, during which time it has lost $25 billion in market value. And now that options on the stock have begun trading, investors are starting to pile up bets that it will fall further, the Wall Street Journal reports. Remember when absolutely everybody had to have this stock?

Thing Four: Apple Considers TV: Apple, meanwhile, continues to be everybody's darling, getting way, way too much attention for every little mundane thing it does. Whatever precious thing did Apple go and do now? Why, Tim Cook told some tech conference, D-7 or something, that Apple is very very seriously interested in maybe making itself a TV. OMG DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE WORLD? Apple shares jumped nearly 2 percent on the "news," which gets reported once every few months when things get slow.

Thing Five: Romney's Record: Having secured his party's nomination for the presidency, Mitt Romney started off his campaign in the traditional way, by trying to get America to ignore Orange-American Donald Trump's latest ravings about President Obama's birth certificate. Romney's plan to distract Americans involves fairly confusing accusations that all Obama knows how to do is give government money to evil companies like Solyndra. But Reuters unhelpfully points out that Romney's gig as the governor of Massachusetts involved picking out corporate winners and losers, too.

Thing Six: And India's Not Helping: You might recall reading recently that the economies of America, Europe and China are all slowing down. What you probably haven't read much about is India's economy, which is, let's just check this New York Times story -- also slowing down! That's not good news for the rest of the globe, writes the NYT: "While short-term growth has slowed but not ground to a halt, India’s problems have dampened hopes that it, along with China and other non-Western economies, might help revive the global economy, as happened after the 2008 financial crisis."

Thing Seven: Need For Speed: Ladies and gentlemen, this is what our greatest minds are up to these days: Building faster networks for high-speed traders to gain microsecond advantages over other high-speed traders. The Wall Street Journal reports that the latest weapon in this ongoing war for speed is the microwave: "Trading firms, angling for even a split-second advantage over rivals, are rushing to build chains of microwave dishes to provide higher-speed links between financial markets in Chicago and New York."

Thing Seven And A Half: Ripken's Streak Begins: On this day in 1982, Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles played in the first of what would be 2,632 straight major-league baseball games, breaking a 56-year-old record held by Lou Gehrig and previously thought unbreakable. The streak finally ended on September 20, 1998. And then Ripken's legs fell off.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

10:00 a.m. ET: Pending Home Sales for April

Corporate Earnings:

Nothing much.

Heard On The Tweets:

@LaMonicaBuzz: $RIMM for sale? BlackBerry maker says it hired $JPM & $RY to assist in reviewing business and financial performance. Let the jokes begin.

@SconsetCapital: $RIMM getting facebooked.

@EddyElfenbein: Very soon Zuck and $FB will have something in common. Both under 30.

@davidfrum: Trump: “I’ve been known as being a very smart guy for a long time"

@katherinemiller: Hilary Rosen & David Frum on Trump on CNN--look more or less like a put upon couple at a holiday party cornered by their IRS agent neighbor.

@ReformedBroker: .@TheStalwart headed to Greece for the elections, will appear as Hipster Hologram live on Business Insider

@blodget_ebooks: BOMBSHELL: Coked-Out Donald Trump Eats Bob Dylan's Face, What Means For Your 401(k)

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja

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