The extremely volatile markets of late stem in part from news suggesting Greece's debt issues have made a default imminent - creating a global black hole that's sucking in a growing number of other economies with it.
Default fears intensified last Friday when European finance ministers announced they would delay a decision on whether or not Greece was eligible for its sixth tranche of bailout funds. Greece was scheduled to get the next $11 billion (8 billion euros) installment of its $152.6 billion (110 billion euros) aid package by the end of September, but now must wait at least until October.
European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) inspectors met with Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos last night to evaluate the country's progress with austerity measures. Greece agreed to reduce its deficit to 7.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, and below 3% by 2014 in order to receive bailouts from the IMF and other euro nations.
But investors are afraid the country will run out of cash before a bailout decision is reached.
Greece may not be going down to a Trojan-level defeat in the next few days, or even weeks, but there is little doubt that the country cannot afford to remain harnessed to the euro. It faces almost certain default at this point, sad to say, which means that some big banks, shareholders and bondholders are going to suffer.
Perhaps those Eurozone critics who said that a currency union not backed by taxation or bond-issuing authority was a bad idea should have been heeded. Then countries like Greece would not have been encouraged into a currency union that's an ill-suited match for its unique economy, history and ambition.
Now the critics are being proven largely right, unfortunately.
The most dangerous thing is new evidence that the debt crisis continues to spread.
Looks like France is headed down the same path as Italy and Spain. According to a Bloomberg News story last week, France may need new austerity measures to avoid a bond sell-off and credit rating downgrade.
It seems that Nicolas Sarkozy is the new Silvio Berlusconi.