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Critical Economic and Market Commentary February 10, 2010

Posted At : February 15, 2010 11:22 AM

Market Dragged Down by Another Greek Tragedy  – Where is Leonidas and his 300 when you need them

Not since Leonidas and his 300 Spartans has Greece been in the press so much. The news that Greece may default has sent world stocks reeling. Hard to imagine with a nation that has the population of Ohio and the GDP of Citigroup. Of course the European Union will rescue it if necessary. The real concern however is not so much Greece but a larger contagion among developing nations.

The true risk to the end of the current bull market will be something unexpected. Everyone already knows about the deficit, the mortgage resets, commercial real estate’s rising defaults etc…so it won’t be those. However, it could very well be problems with developing countries. I have mentioned previously that it could be Eastern Europe having problems paying back western European banks. Greece could be the lynch pin.

The reality of the situation for the current correction is simply that is time for a breather. Many things could have been the catalyst. The earnings season has been very good, and what often happens is investors “buy the rumor” (ahead of earnings) and “sell the news” (post earnings announcements). The economic reports have been upbeat and the market technicals are still positive with buying power in positive territory and selling pressure fairly muted. However, this is probably the beginning of the 2nd phase of the bull market where very selective investing is the key and profits become more difficult.

This does not mean that we are immune to a more severe decline. The long term fundamentals still look menacing and we will very likely re-test the lows at some point this year. Investors must have a tactical investment policy that takes an active investment approach of concentrating on strong sectors and avoiding the dangerous, as well as having a definite exit strategy.

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