The Financial Landscape: Gas Is Falling; the Euro's Failing; U.S. Bondholders, Start Bailing

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The financial landscapePain at the Pump Keeps Receding: The average price of a gallon of gas declined 11.22 cents during the two-week period that ended Friday and now stands at $3.63. "The rate of decline was reduced in the latest two weeks," according to Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey, "but we have yet to see the impact of the government sale of crude." Oil prices have fallen markedly since the International Energy Agency announced its intention to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves over the next month, but the trend in gas prices has been downward since early May, and Obama administration officials pointedly declined to speculate about the impact on gas prices on Thursday, when the IEA announcement was made.

Soros Sees a Euro Exit Coming:
George Soros, the billionaire investor who got even richer betting against the British pound, predicts it is now "probably inevitable" that a country will leave the euro -- a development for which no enabling mechanism currently exists. Challenging the view of Europe's crisis as a sovereign debt issue, Soros explained, "I think most of us actually agree that [it] is actually centered around the euro. It's a kind of financial crisis that is really developing.... The authorities are actually engaged in buying time. And yet time is working against them."

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"We are on the verge of an economic collapse which starts, let's say, in Greece, but it could easily spread," Soros added. "The financial system remains extremely vulnerable."

Keeping his criticism constructive, Soros encouraged the development of a "plan B" to save the European Union, the preservation of which he called "a vital interest to all." But judging from the tenor of his comments, who wants to bet that Soros -- one of those storied investors whose pronouncements have the potential to move markets -- has recently taken some heavily anti-euro positions?

Bad Times Ahead for Bondholders?: Citing a research arm of McGraw Hill, the parent of Standard & Poor's, the Financial Times reports that U.S. government bond investors could lose up to $100 billion if the country's debt loses its AAA rating. The study's concern is not the debt ceiling, which it assumes will be raised, but rather "the long term fiscal outlook," which Congress appears poorly poised to address. Such a downgrade, which would cause higher yield and lower prices, could also mean the Treasury -- and thus, the taxpayers -- paying $2.3 billion to $3.75 billion a year more in interest on a $1 trillion annual budget deficit.
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