Many on Wall Street hate to read about the stock market being a casino (reason enough to write about it now and then). But let's go one step further and apply the analogy to an entire economic bloc.
The major indices are slightly higher and the euro is gaining a little ground midday. But trading is pretty tame, so there's time to step into the Eurozone Casino and see what's going on. (Don't picture any Vegas-like Disney entertainment with a cacophony of slots. This is a European casino: vaguely quiet, smoke filled and fairly sketchy).
There's trouble brewing at the blackjack table in the corner next to the pawnbroker ad. Someone's about to hit on 18 and on closer inspection that person is Finland. That will pretty much mess up the deal for Greece, sitting next to Finland with barely any chips and desperately needing a 10 or face card. The rest of the table has already lent Greece a bunch of cash to keep it in the game. But Finland and its big stack of chips seems content to be the spoiler -- unless it gets to hold the keys to Greece's Lexus out back.
That's basically where we find ourselves as Finland threatens to back out of the Greek bailout if it can't keep its private collateral agreement. The rest of the eurozone is calling foul, and other member states are asking for the same terms.
All the while, Greek bond yields are rising and the only thing keeping the euro up is the unpopularity of the greenback.
So, why is everyone still in the game? There's hope that a big casino manager – picture Bernanke with Mo Green's glasses – will come in and draw chips for the high rollers and let everyone play on the house for a while.
And for the bad-news-is-good-news crowd that hopes indicators will push the Fed chief into action, there's a big drop in German business confidence.
But according to Heineken, it's not even driving people to drink.