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Greece and the Gold and Silver ETF Hedge

I can't be the only person that finds it a bit ironic that the fate of the global economy rests on the decision of whether or not Greece remains a member of the European Union. Make no mistake, if Greece leaves the European Union there will be a global ripple effect that would almost certainly plunge the global economy into a recession.

On Monday Prime Minister George Papandreou called for a vote by the Greek people to decide whether or not they want to remain in the EU. Putting aside the consequences that this vote may have, this was a stunning show of democracy in a world that is ruled by banks and money.

The summit on the French Riviera had been meant to focus on reforms of the global monetary system and steps to rein in speculative capital flows, but this shocking decision by Papandreou on Monday to call a referendum on a new EU/IMF aid package for his country has upended the talks.

The threat of a Greek exit from the euro zone hung over a meeting of G20 leaders on Thursday after France and Germany made it clear that Athens must decide urgently whether it wants to stay in the 12-year-old currency bloc.

Like a schoolboy, Papandreou was summoned to Cannes on the eve of the summit and given a stark warning by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, both clearly angered by his gambit, which has sent global stock markets and the Euro currency spiraling lower.

They made it crystal clear that the Greek prime minister to bring forward the vote to early December and insisted it be focused on the broad issue of whether Greece wants to stay in the European Union. Merkel and Sarkozy made it clear that the vote not be limited to a new 130 billion euro bailout package. Oddly this is something which a majority of Greeks oppose.

Before leaving he said the referendum could take place on December 4 and would be focused on whether we want to remain in the euro zone.

Merkel and Sarkozy also made clear that Athens would not receive an 8 billion euro aid tranche it desperately needs to avoid default until the referendum had passed.

Should it fail, the EU/IMF aid would end, plunging Greece into a disorderly default that would reverberate across the 17-nation euro zone, engulfing big economies like Italy and Spain.

"Our Greek friends must decide whether they want to continue the journey with us," Sarkozy told reporters at a joint news conference with Merkel after the crisis talks.

The German chancellor, describing the discussions with Papandreou as "tough and hard," said the goal of stabilizing the euro was ultimately more important than saving Greece if it did not want to be saved.

On Thursday morning, the leaders of France, Italy and Spain, the German finance minister and the heads of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and other top EU officials will meet to look at ways of accelerating the implementation of an anti-crisis package agreed on October 27.

That plan, which includes debt relief for Greece, a recapitalization of European banks and a leveraging of the bloc's rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), was meant to stem the two-year old crisis before Papandreou's referendum call sent the bloc into damage control mode. The referendum adds a further layer of complexity and uncertainty to an already complex crisis.

Most importantly, it starts off a political mechanism that could eventually result in Greece leaving the euro.

As the mini euro zone summit is taking place, Merkel will be holding talks with U.S. President Obama, who is due to arrive in Cannes early on Thursday. Heading into an election year, Obama is worried the euro zone crisis could blow up and hit the struggling U.S. economy.

Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, announced on Wednesday that the central bank was slashing its projections for growth and raising forecasts for unemployment.

The meeting of leaders from the world's 20 major economies will formally begin with a working lunch that had been meant to focus on the world economy, but is now likely to be dominated by Europe's debt woes.

Sarkozy met Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday as part of a European effort to convince the world's emerging powers to help boost the firepower of the bloc's bailout fund.

But Jintao told the French president that it was up to Europe to solve its debt woes. China's deputy finance minister Zhu Guangyao said after the talks that Beijing needed more details from Europe before considering any bigger investment in the EFSF.

This leaves no doubts about Europe's ability to contain the debt crisis has put Italy firmly in the firing line.

The risk premium on Italian bonds over safe-haven German Bunds has hit euro-lifetime highs this week, despite European Central Bank buying of its bonds.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has scrambled to come up with measures to placate markets, holding an emergency cabinet meeting to accelerate budget reforms amid mounting calls for his resignation.

One thing is for sure. This will not end well. The best we can hope for is that it ends quickly.

My suggestion is to load up on gold and silver. If the worst does materialize the world will run as quickly as possible to the ultimate hedge.

For 50 years I have been a gold and silver bug. However it was only until about 3 years ago that I started to get involved with the gold and silver ETFs. Right away I liked the liquidity of the ETFs. Stacking physical gold and silver was a lifelong hobby but my wife's patience was wearing thin, I mean there are only so many places to hide the coins. The ETFs gave me a means to own the gold and silver without ever having to touch it. Add to this that it could be bought and sold as soon as my order was placed and I felt I had found a new friend.

I started my journey by buying the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) and the iShares Siler Trust (SLV). I later learned about several of the leveraged plays like UGL and AGQ.

If things do not turn out well with Greece and the EU I suggest that everyone has 20% of their portfolio in gold and silver.

 

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