The chart below is the spread between French and German government bonds. Equity markets have rallied on hopes that an American-styleshock and awe bailout package from France and Germany can solve the euro-area’s debt crisis, but the bond market has other ideas. The French-German spread has blown-out to the highest level since the euro’s founding. Contagion is spreading to the core of the euro-area. Investors are beginning to doubt France’s ability to fund the multi-trillion dollar bailouts needed to solve the crisis. At a 114 basis point spread over German bonds, the market is rating France closer to single A credit rather than the AAA credit that rating agencies give it. If the French-German spread continues to widen at its recent pace, the euro will be toast in a matter of months. A defensive investment stance remains the most prudent approach.
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Jeremy Jones, CFA is the Director of Research at Young Research & Publishing Inc., and the Chief Investment Officer at Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd. Jeremy is a contributing editor of youngresearch.com.