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How Greece Is Mocking the Rest of the World

Webster's dictionary defines gullible as nave and easily duped or cheated'.

On Thursday stocks rallied after Germany and France gave assurance that Greece will remain a member of the euro.

Haven't we been down this road before? How often have there been statements assuring that Greece is fine or will be fine? An Associated Press article stated this week that: 'Hopes were raised by the outcome of a teleconference Wednesday between leaders of France, Germany and Greece.'

Hope worked as propaganda tool for President Obama three years ago, but hope is not a suitable investment strategy. Einstein's famous definition of insanity comes to mind: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Since the beginning of 2010 there have been five 10%+ sell offs. All of them, with the exception of the March 2011 decline (Japan earthquake), were blamed on Greece. When stocks recovered, it was credited to Greece's rigorous adherence to the demanded austerity measures or new bailout money.

The S&P has made no net progress since January 2010. After two years of water treading and lessons in Greek-style financial mockery we have to ask, is Wall Street insane?

Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou just pledged that a reform program would be on the top of Thursday's (yesterday) Greek cabinet meeting. To buy stocks based on a pledge to push a concern that was initially sold as non-issue but has morphed into a matter of survival on the top of an agenda does seem insane.

Or should we just consider the Greeks geniuses? After all, they have figured out how to control Wall Street. Today it only takes mythical Grecian hope for a hopefully hopeful outcome to excite Wall Street.

A German saying may describe Greece's situation. Loosely translated, it goes like this: Once your reputation is ruined, you may live blatantly uninhibited.

Insane Financial Pain

The Greek saga began over two years ago, when, on June 23, 2009, Greece's finance minister nonchalantly disclosed that: 'The rate of growth for the Greek economy in 2009 is expected to slow more than forecasted. Specifically, it will range around zero and only return to growth in 2010.' The disclosed budget deficit at the time was $3.1 billion.

Growth obviously didn't return in 2010, but the following headlines all offered hope in 2010:

ECB member says no bailouts for Greece

Bulls run on Greece news

Debtors bet Greece won't spill

Is Greece's crisis over?

Greece contagion fears unfounded

IMF approved $3.3 billion for Greece amid impressive fiscal adjustment

If Greece's adjustment was that impressive, why are we still talking about Greece?

Small Fish in the Debt Pond

Greece has made quite a splash but it is just a small fish in the European debt pond. Given some more time, we'll probably find out that bigger fish make bigger splashes. Next in line are Portugal, Spain, Italy and France. In terms of size, this is probably like comparing a goldfish with a tuna.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that: 'European banks are cutting back on dollar denominated loans, a troublesome sign of credit contraction at a time when American and European economies can least afford it.' Credit contraction is the mother of deflation and Bernanke's most feared enemy.

The Chairman of Societe Generale, one of France's largest banks, made it a point to state on Monday that the bank was well funded. Nevertheless, it will be reducing its dollar denominated debt and lay off workers. When promises conflict actions, we know that actions speak louder than words. Laying off workers is not confidence inspiring.

Back in February, the ETF Profit Strategy Newsletter warned that: 'The debt problem of sovereign European countries has or is about to turn into a debt problem of super sovereign entities. The IMF and EU swallowing up massive amounts of debt has not eliminated debt, it has merely re- shuffled and concentrated it.'

On July 15, I stated via ETF Profit Strategy Newsletter: 'I know European stocks will tank eventually but I don't know when. However, I see that the iShares MSCI EAFA ETF (NYSEArca: EFA) just sliced below it's 20, 50 and 200-day simple moving averages (SMAs). The same is true for the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM). The high reward, low risk trade would be to go short EFA or EEM with a stop loss just above the 200-day SMA Corresponding ETFs are Short MSCI EAFE ProShares (NYSEArca: EFZ) and Short MSCI Emerging Markets ProShares (NYSEArca: EUM).

What's Next?

Fortunately the European Union can rely on the smarts of its many capable members. There is former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn who'd rather force his will on an innocent Manhattan hotel worker than enforce strict financial rules on member countries, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker who openly confesses to lying if required by circumstances and a whole slew of officials suffering from gullibility. You should think twice before betting against the European financial dream team.

As for me, I rely on technicals , not on officials, their decisions or the media's interpretation of it. The technicals I focus on are those of the S&P (SNP: ^GSPC). Not surprisingly, European stocks have generally moved in the same direction as the S&P.

The S&P and the SPDR Euro STOXX 50 ETF (NYSEArca: FEZ) both topped on May 2. The S&P's top came right on queue and within the 1,369 - 1,382 target range of a major market top I've outlined via the ETF Profit Strategy Newsletter since early 2011.

Unlike the S&P, FEZ sunk to new lows on September 12. On that day FEZ was 38% below its May 2 high. Some more near-term damage may be to come for European stocks, but after a 38% haircut is not the time to double up on short positions.

As far as the S&P (SNP: ^GSPC), Dow Jones (DJI: ^DJI) and Nasdaq (Nasdaq: ^IXIC) is concerned, new lows are likely. Today is triple witching and there's some uncertainty surrounding next week's FOMC meeting. In addition the S&P has broken out of a possible triangle, which may postpone the immediate bearish potential.

However, once the S&P reaches the up side price target or drops below support (whichever comes first), it's time to go short again. The ETF Profit Strategy Newsletter provides the target for this rally and the support that once broken, should lead to new lows.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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