04/16/2012 07:55 am ET

European Debt Crisis, Confederacy Of Dunces Edition: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Four hundred miles without a word until you smile, four hundred miles on fields of fire. Less confusingly, there are only seven and a half things you need to know today. Here they are:

Thing One: Europe: See, this is why nobody ever believes the Pollyannas who tell you things are just fine, so you can get on back in the stock market.

Those same clowns told us everything was fine in Europe, too, a few months ago, and now look at it. It's just a big mess again, The New York Times writes, with the euro at its lowest level in two months, super-safe German bunds at record highs and Spanish and Italian borrowing costs jumping through the roof.

Why's all this happening again? Well, funny story, the Goofball Circus that is Europe's leadership decided that the best medicine for a starving economy was to choke off government spending, which resulted in the economy getting even weaker, which resulted in scads of people getting laid off, which resulted in lower tax revenues, which resulted in even worse government deficits and also a depression, writes Paul Krugman. Only now is Europe starting to seriously debate whether austerity is maybe possibly a bad thing, writes Reuters. Meanwhile, they're coming hat-in-hand to the IMF for more cash to bail out their countries and banks and such.

Speaking of which, the other genius idea the European Leadership had was to give European banks free money to buy up the bonds of shaky European countries. This Ponzi scheme worked for about three months, before the bond market started beating up on European bonds again -- because of worries about the effects of austerity, writes Wolfgang Munchau in the Financial Times -- and now suddenly these banks are saddled with more risky debt than ever and facing the prospect of rating downgrades, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Thing Two: Buffett Rule Ruse: So the Senate votes on the Buffett Rule today, which would impose a minimum tax on millionaires. Don't fret, Thurston Howell, the parliament of millionaires will shoot it down, but not before making GOP Senators shamefully take your side. Anyway, even if it did pass, it's riddled with loopholes, writes 7.5 Things' own Khadeeja Safdar.

Thing Three: Google Fight Club: A great philosopher once opined that having more money often results simply in having more problems. Tell me about it, says Google, today entwined in not one but two legal tussles arising out of money. The first is with the FCC, which has its regulatory panties in a bunch because Google hasn't been cooperating with its inquiry into Google's plan to use its spare cash to take pictures of everything in the world and put them on the Internet. The second is with Oracle, which wants a cool billion dollars out of Google in a patent-infringement case going to court this week, the Wall Street Journal writes.

Thing Four: Carlyle's Modesty: Famous private-equity firm Carlyle Group, which occasionally employs former bigwigs from government, is going to sell shares of itself to the public -- but not very many, writes the Washington Post. The trouble is that the stock market is not in great shape, and people really don't like owning shares of these strange private-equity firms.

Thing Five: Yuan It, You Got It: For years the United States has been griping about how China keeps its currency artificially cheap, to give it a leg up in making plastic junk that it then sells back to Americans for pennies. Well, China is starting to feel its oats a little bit and is starting to let its yuan get a little stronger, the Wall Street Journal writes. But only just a little, which means the griping from the U.S. will continue, Reuters writes.

Thing Six: Mustang Sally: I tell you, these crazy kids today just aren't interested in gas-guzzling death machines for some reason. To rectify this disappointing state of affairs, Ford wants to re-design its famous Mustang death machine to make it more appealing to the youngs somehow, by making it more Europe-y or YouTube-y or something, the Wall Street Journal writes. "The next generation would retain the shark-nosed grille and round headlights, but would look more like the new Ford Fusion than the current Mustang, these people said." Yes, nothing quite says "buy me, youth," like "Ford Fusion."

Thing Seven: Bond Sausage: Nothing spells the end of the last financial crisis -- and the start of the new one -- quite like the fact that Wall Street's math wizards are once again busily stuffing financial instruments with all sorts of crap to sell to you, the public, so that you can spend your golden years eating cat food. The Wall Street Journal reports that asset-backed securities made out of whatever happens to be lying around the house -- fast-food franchises, lottery tickets, whatevs -- are back in vogue.

Thing Seven And One Half: Hillary Gone Wild: Hillary Clinton is single-handedly trying to take over the Internet. Not satisfied with being her own meme, she is now living it up in South America with style, which is more than we can maybe say for the Bush twins or the Secret Service.

Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data Releases:

8:30 a.m. ET: Retail sales for March

8:30 a.m.: Empire State manufacturing report for April

10:00 a.m.: NAHB housing market index for April

Corporate Earnings Reports:

All before 9:30 a.m.:

M&T Bank
Charles Schwab

Heard On The Tweets:

@ritholtz: Too many people insisting that 2+2=5. Way too time consuming to overcome their cognitive dissonance. Its why Twitter's Block was invented!

@ObsoleteDogma: Who would win in a fight between Cory Booker & Chuck Norris?

@ReformedBroker: Prepare to have your minds blown by this story $GOOG

@cate_long: "Titanic's owner J. P. Morgan was scheduled to travel on the maiden voyage, but canceled at the last minute..."

@zerohedge: OBAMA SAYS U.S. `ON TRACK' TO GOAL OF DOUBLING EXPORTS. And quadrupling imports... All to Mars

@zerohedge: Can everyone stop blaming the central banks already? It is not like markets are addicted to every word they utter or anything

@WSJDealJournal: Just FYI: This is the second quarter in a row JPMorgan reported its earnings on Friday the 13th. Jamie Dimon is daring fate to intervene.

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

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