A Plague on 17 of Your Houses

 | Aug 23, 2011 | 7:45 AM EDT
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Every now and then we get a little return to some straightforward trading and market writers can return to an old favorite lead like: Stock in Europe were broadly higher on better-than-expected economic data.

While the eurozone numbers showed a contraction in manufacturing activity in July, services activity was still above 50 and handily topped forecasts. That helped the DAX and CAC, while the FTSE was also buoyed by higher-than-expected factor orders.

That seems so logical it just leaves us wondering what's going to mess it up.

The Chinese are a good candidate for today. They are weighing in not just with numbers, but with historical and literary flair. Two guys who are clearly auditioning for jobs at analogy-enthusiasts Pimco (or at least to be followed by Pimco on Twitter) warned about the debt crisis' impact on China's economy, adding this piquant sentence:

"The euro debt crisis has now been going for nearly two years since the end of 2009, and the sovereign debt crisis has spread like the Black Death of the fourteenth century across the euro zone countries."

It's not often you get to reference the bubonic plague. What remains is to determine who are the rats (banks, member states?) and who are the fleas (bankers, politicians?) More fun can be had just taking sentences direct from the Black Death Wikipedia page and throwing them into the current context, such as:

"The governments of Europe had no apparent response to the crisis because no one knew its cause or how it spread."

Looking for a spoiler longer term, the rumblings about the democratic legitimacy of EU-imposed budgets should put all investors on alert. It just takes one country to tell the ECB to take a hike and the efficacy of the largely-unaccountable body in charge of the rescue crumbles.

Until then, bring out your dead.

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