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World waits to see if EU can solve debt crisis

This handout photo made available by the German government press office shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the EU headquarters in Brussels on Oct. 22, 2011.

Another day, another European summit to solve the continental debt crisis. Over the weekend, European Union leaders took a few solid steps in the direction of a new plan to ease the euro crisis. The EU hopes to finalize the proposal at another summit, this one on Wednesday.

The plan attempts to deal with the main problems facing the eurozone countries. It acknowledges that Greece is unable to pay its debts, that it will default and that creditors will have to take big losses on their Greek holdings. It would force banks that own Greek debt to increase the amount of capital they hold to deal with those losses, and an EU commitment to give cash to banks that can't raise the necessary funds. And finally, the proposal looks like it'll include an agreement to increase the size of the eurozone bailout fund, though just how to do that has not been finalized. On the table are plans to use the money as insurance against losses suffered by those who hold toxic sovereign debt, or to create a separate fund that raises money from a variety of sources including private investors.

The hope is that the plan will be robust enough to ensure that Greece is the only eurozone country to face default. The big worry is that without dramatic action, Greece will be followed by Portugal, Ireland and -- most disastrously -- Spain and Italy.

As is the case with all EU proposals, the first question isn't "Will it work?" Instead, it's "Will the EU actually implement the plan?" And if not, how will the markets react?

Today we spoke with Mark D. Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. He says the markets will "riot" on Wednesday if some sort of plan isn't ratified by then. Luschini says that the markets have been in a healthy rally over the past few weeks, partly because of decent domestic economic numbers, but also in anticipation of the Europeans getting serious about solving the debt crisis. If the markets sense that the EU has created something "skeletal," Luschini says that things will get ugly fast.

He says that more delay could push Greece into a chaotic default. That likely would mean the chaos spreads to other EU countries. The big question in the end is can the EU survive? Stay tuned -- what happens during the next 48 hours could give us the answer to that question.


Also on the show today, FedEx said it expects a record holiday shipping season with a forecast that shipments will be up 12 percent. According to the company, "Retail inventory such as apparel, personal consumer electronics and luxury goods as well as books and other items from large Internet retailer will account for a large portion of FedEx holiday volumes." If FedEx is right, that means the economy is stronger than many had predicted coming out of the summer.

As for the post office's connection here? While FedEx folks deliver lots of packages, it turns out FedEx also pays the post office to do the final delivery of quite a few parcels. The news of a decent holiday season for both FedEx and the post office strengthens the Marketplace Daily Pulse today.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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