Arguably, the election in Greece on Sunday is the most important the country has ever faced.
Some believe Greece is merely the first domino in line. Other eurozone countries, the thinking goes, stand ready to give up the common currency as soon as one of the 17 members opens the floodgates. After Greece, Spain and Portugal could exit the eurozone. If the anti-bailout Syriza party takes over in Greece, then other countries will count how many chits are torn up and tossed on the floor.
Ditching the euro could become popular if it helps placate voters who are angry at government austerity measures that pulled the rug out from under a job or a service they were counting on. And what if it actually worked? If Greece dumps the euro and its economy catches fire with the cheaper drachma, the common currency could fall into further disfavor.
That is step Y and we're on step H. Nevertheless, the Greek election is considered too close to call and election polls are illegal in Greece within two weeks of an election.
That makes it hard for investors to figure out how to position themselves in view of the possibility of an anti-bailout government in Athens. There is also that chance that Syriza could beat the pro-bailout New Democracy and the socialist Pasok parties and then use its hard line to negotiate terms for staying in the eurozone.
Whether politically motivated or not, the European Central Bank is looking into its options for supporting the eurozone economy. ECB President Mario Draghi speaking in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday said it was time for Europe to concentrate on growth. "There is a long-standing agenda on growth. It is time to implement it with determination," he said.
Draghi did not say if the ECB was considering a new round of cheap lending to support government bonds or lowering its key lending rate, which stands at 1 percent.
But he did say Europe had room to integrate financial systems further. "Integration is far from being the equivalent to giving up sovereignty," he said.
For investors, this makes it a split decision: Keep their money in the eurozone, because the ECB is going to make a move or get out quick before Sunday's vote that could create a great big whooshing sound from all the capital leaving the country and, by extension, the currency that could get slammed by voters in Greece.
In international markets Friday, the Nikkei 225 index in Japan was flat, up 0.01 percent and the Shanghai composite index in China rose 0.47 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong jumped 2.26 percent and the Sensex in India climbed 1.63 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.37 percent.
In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain added 0.32 percent while the DAX 30 in Germany rose 1.09 percent. The CAC 40 in France rose 1.41 percent and the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.62 percent.
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