Is this the week they save the euro (again)?

Europe flagsYou know the feeling you get when you're watching a movie and gradually suspect you've seen it before? Well, here's a film you definitely have seen, over and over again, but wish you hadn't. It's a race-against-time blockbuster called "One Week To Save The Euro".

You know the plot, you know the stars (Monti and Merkel), but you end up watching it anyway, because you can't quite remember how it ends.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
And then a month later, you find yourself watching it again.

Bonds, Spanish bonds
That's how I feel right now, waiting for this Thursday's monthly meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB). Once again, the ECB has "One Week To Save The Euro".

The ticking time bomb known as the single currency threatens to devastate most of Europe, if not the world, and only one man can save the day. ECB president Mario Draghi, who has pledged to do "whatever it takes" to defuse the device.

As Spanish and Italian bond yields tick higher, racking up the tension, Super Mario is engaged in a tense stand-off with his adversaries at the Bundesbank, led by Jens Weidmann, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel watches inscrutably from the sidelines.

Draghi thinks an unlimited blast of Spanish and German bond purchases can spare us a single currency meltdown. The Bundesbank fears the toxic side effects.

It will all come to a climax on Thursday.

Markets move
Except it didn't last time you saw this movie. Or the time before that. No matter how many times eurozone politicians ride to the rescue of the single currency, it stubbornly refuses to be saved. That's why you can't remember the end. There isn't one.

Do you expect this time to be different?
Markets started the week in a confident mood, which suggests they do. But then, no matter how many times investors see this movie, they still act as if it's the first time, and that the movie ends happily.

This time, Draghi has back-up. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has backed unlimited bond buying. Analysts claim that would be a life saver, disarming that time bomb for good.

We'll see.

Athens, New York, London, Beijing
Like every good thriller, this one is riddled with sub-plots, and set in a series of global cities. The sinister-sounding "troika" -- the ECB, International Monetary Fund and European Commission -- is in Athens, deciding whether to sink Greek hopes of more urgently needed bailout aid.
In New York, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's finger is hovering over a red button marked 'QE3', while on Thursday, in London, the Bank of England's trigger finger will also be itching. In Beijing, nervous politicians are taking aim.
This weapon of mass pension and savings destruction looks set to be fired again.
That Thursday feeling
While watching this blockbuster one month ago, I naively asked could the euro be saved on Thursday?. It wasn't, of course. Now I'll confess l don't know how this movie will end, or whether it ever will.
If Super Mario finally delivers they will name the day after him, Super Thursday, The Day They Saved the Euro, and markets will soar.
If the Germans get to him first, things could get messy. The summer stock market party was kept fizzing by hopes of more loose liquidity, and the hangover could be nasty.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
Some of you may be tempted to trade this market. I'm in the middle of reorganising my portfolio, and I'm tempted to sell some of my overpriced unit trusts now, then wait a few days before reinvesting the money. If German beats Italy, and that ticking bomb becomes unstable, we could see some great buying opportunities.

But Thursday is too difficult to call. Market reaction is even more inscrutable and irrational. Even if all goes well, there is another ticking device that could explode on Wednesday 12 September, when the German Constitutional Court will rule on whether the European Stability Mechanism is legal. If it gives the thumbs down, markets could implode.

The single currency will probably survive September, but there will be plenty more cliffhangers to follow. As I wrote last week, now is the perfect time to buy shares, because if you hang on until this picture finishes, you could be in for a long wait.

More stories

Read Full Story