Another Anxious Week for Wall Street and the Euro

Investors look to the Fed for action on rates; doubts persist in Europe on debt

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Another weak of economic uncertainty dawns, with investors looking to central banks and sovereign governments to stimulate growth and hiring, and also to rein in longterm debt that challenges stability, two goals whose solutions  may conflict more than they coincide.

Investors hope an anticipated two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee will yield a lowering of long-term interest rates. A further drop in already low costs of borrowing could trigger growth in the U.S. economy, experts told Reuters this weekend.

If anticipation of more stimulus from the Fed has some upbeat, though, there is more cause for doubt incoming from the seemingly bottomless pit of worry that is the Eurozone. While stocks there bounced up last week, new signs of trouble emerged also, including a ratcheting-back of lending from American investors to European banks, and a surge in bets against the euro. The underlying factor, says Bloomberg Businessweek, is persistent fear about the debt held by sovereign governments, particularly those like Greece that are within hailing distance of the point of collapse.

"This debt is unpayable," Mario Blejer told Businessweek, referring to Greece's burden. Blejer was the manager of the central bank in Argentina after that country defaulted on its debt.

“Greece should default, and default big" [Mejer said.] "A small default is worse than a big default and also worse than no default.”

Greece’s debt is about 140 percent of its economy, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with about 59 percent for the U.S. at the end of 2010.

Wisdom from outsiders on how to handle the Eurozone crisis is not necessarily welcome, however. Witness the Sydney Morning Herald's report that a visit from U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to a meeting of European finance officials resulted in a spike in the dreaded "diplomatic tensions."

"You need ... to work together," Geithner told the group, according to the Morning Herald. His audience advised him to get his own house in order:

But Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank President, said the euro zone's financial position was better than in other "major advanced economies."

About those other "major advanced economies" ...

Activists, including the co-founder of AdBusters, are now taking their cues – at least symbolically – from Tahrir Square and other major movements of popular unrest. The group launched their two-month Occupy Wall Street protest with a sit-in on Saturday.

Turnout seemed light, but the group says it's in it for the long haul.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.