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ECB Pushing Greece Over Brink

Interest-Rates / Credit Crisis 2011 May 20, 2011 - 10:29 AM GMT

By: Axel_Merk

Interest-Rates

Disagreements on how to address Greece's reform process boiled over this week when European Central Bank (ECB) President Trichet walked out of a meeting. Trichet warned if Greece were to extend the maturity of existing debt, the ECB would stop supporting Greece.


We have long argued that it is not in Greece's interest to default at this stage because Greece needs to get its primary deficit under control before restricting its debt. As further reforms are implemented, the risk/reward ratio for Greece will change to potentially favor a default to reduce its debt burden. Delaying any default benefits Greece because any default now would impose an immediate adjustment of the primary deficit as it may be impossible to get new loans at palatable terms.

However, if ECB deserts Greece, the risk/reward assessment for Greece is changing. If the ECB gets too tough on Greece, dynamics in Greece may drive political dynamics to favor a default or even a re-introduction of the drachma.

Mind you that this would not be in Greece's interest: a default now won't fix Greece's underlying structural issues. Leaving the eurozone might cause an implosion of Greece's financial system. But from Greece's point of view, if they feel deserted by the ECB, political dynamics may favor the worst of the bad choices at hand.

As far as the banking system in the rest of the eurozone is concerned, we know that central banks, including the ECB, are bad poker players. If the ECB indeed pushes Greece over the brink though, they would provide ample support to the rest of the banking system. It would certainly expedite the process of raising more capital in the eurozone banking system (some of which through national governments).

To be updated as this discussion evolves, please make sure you sign up to our newsletter. We manage the Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund, the Merk Asian Currency Fund, and the Merk Hard Currency Fund; transparent no-load currency mutual funds that do not typically employ leverage. To learn more about the Funds, please visit www.merkfunds.com.

By Axel Merk

Manager of the Merk Hard, Asian and Absolute Return Currency Funds, www.merkfunds.com

Axel Merk, President & CIO of Merk Investments, LLC, is an expert on hard money, macro trends and international investing. He is considered an authority on currencies. Axel Merk wrote the book on Sustainable Wealth; order your copy today.

The Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund seeks to generate positive absolute returns by investing in currencies. The Fund is a pure-play on currencies, aiming to profit regardless of the direction of the U.S. dollar or traditional asset classes.

The Merk Asian Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in Asian currencies versus the U.S. dollar. The Fund typically invests in a basket of Asian currencies that may include, but are not limited to, the currencies of China, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The Merk Hard Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in hard currencies versus the U.S. dollar. Hard currencies are currencies backed by sound monetary policy; sound monetary policy focuses on price stability.

The Funds may be appropriate for you if you are pursuing a long-term goal with a currency component to your portfolio; are willing to tolerate the risks associated with investments in foreign currencies; or are looking for a way to potentially mitigate downside risk in or profit from a secular bear market. For more information on the Funds and to download a prospectus, please visit www.merkfunds.com.

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses of the Merk Funds carefully before investing. This and other information is in the prospectus, a copy of which may be obtained by visiting the Funds' website at www.merkfunds.com or calling 866-MERK FUND. Please read the prospectus carefully before you invest.

The Funds primarily invest in foreign currencies and as such, changes in currency exchange rates will affect the value of what the Funds own and the price of the Funds' shares. Investing in foreign instruments bears a greater risk than investing in domestic instruments for reasons such as volatility of currency exchange rates and, in some cases, limited geographic focus, political and economic instability, and relatively illiquid markets. The Funds are subject to interest rate risk which is the risk that debt securities in the Funds' portfolio will decline in value because of increases in market interest rates. The Funds may also invest in derivative securities which can be volatile and involve various types and degrees of risk. As a non-diversified fund, the Merk Hard Currency Fund will be subject to more investment risk and potential for volatility than a diversified fund because its portfolio may, at times, focus on a limited number of issuers. For a more complete discussion of these and other Fund risks please refer to the Funds' prospectuses.

This report was prepared by Merk Investments LLC, and reflects the current opinion of the authors. It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward-looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute investment advice. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, distributor.

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