Europe: You're Up


With the highly anticipated Federal Reserve meeting behind us, Europe's debt dilemma will once again take center stage and this time, the financial fate of many eurozone nations could hang in the balance.

Bailouts in question
On Sept. 7, Germany's top court will rule on the legality of the country's contribution to Europe's bailout efforts. According to SpiegelOnline, the court is unlikely to rule the bailouts totally unlawful, but it is likely to put in place some limitations.

A ruling that undermines Germany's involvement in the bailout efforts could have major consequences, considering Germany contributes a substantial portion of the bailout funds in the region. Without Germany's financial support, many believe default is imminent for financially troubled countries in the eurozone.

Greece, a country with a borrowing rate at an astounding 40% on two-year government bonds, will likely be the first to default without the financial support of Germany. This could mean more market turmoil in the Dow (INDEX: ^DJI) over the coming weeks, particularly for companies with the greatest exposure to Greece.

Potential fallout
Many familiar financial institutions will likely suffer from a potential Greek default.Bank of America (NYS: BAC) reportedly has roughly $447 million in Greek debt exposure.

Not surprisingly, the National Bank of Greece (NYS: NBG) is on the hook as well. According to Barclay's research, the National Bank of Greece is the financial institution with the most exposure to the financially troubled country. Barclays estimates the National Bank of Greece owns roughly 3% of Greek debt. The same report revealed that French banking giant BNP Paribas owns approximately 2% of Greek debt.

Precious metals investors could benefit the most from the potential financial fallout in Europe, as many investors will likely flee the euro in search of safety. The gold ETF iShares Gold Trust (NYS: IAU) and the silver ETF iShares Silver Trust (NYS: SLV) could rise under this scenario.

The bottom line
Pay close attention to the decision handed down next week by Germany's top court. The ruling has the potential to move the markets even more than the recent Fed meeting and affect your portfolio in the process.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorAdam J. Crawforddoes not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of National Bank of Greece and Bank of America. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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