The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) fell another 0.26% today. Markets are the results of millions of individual actors, so you never know for sure the reasons what causes short-term wiggles. But the likely culprit continues to be the trouble brewing in Europe. With the savage austerity imposed on countries like Greece and Spain no longer economically or politically sustainable, we could be coming closer to the boiling point, at least for Greece.
Today, the IMF chief openly acknowledged both the possibility that Greece will exit the eurozone and just how disruptive such an event could be for European economies.
It wouldn't be surprising if it were to exit in the coming months. An exit was always pretty inevitable unless Germany would have agreed to a lighter sentence for Greece or a higher inflation target for Europe. Still, it's going to be a hassle for the European banking system, which lent Greece all that money, and for American banks that are entwined with European counterparties or have placed bets directly or indirectly tied to the state of Europe's economy -- JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , ahem.
Shareholders are continuing to vent their anger at the megabank that was supposed to have unbeatable risk-management systems after it announced a $2 billion loss on a bungled long position that was supposed to "hedge" a previous hedge on corporate creditworthiness but may in reality have been a poorly executed bet on the short-term fundamentals of the economic recovery.
JPMorgan Chase's shares are down 2.2%. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , which also has direct exposure to Europe from its investment banking, trading, and wealth management businesses, and indirectly through its U.S. loans and investments, fell 2.6%. Non-Dow component Citigroup (NYSE: C ) has both extensive international operations and investment banking and saw its shares decline 3.1%.
Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) , which isn't just an aluminum company but also an global economic bellwether, fell 2.5%.
JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Alcoa all lost to the market today, but let's remember that it's the long term that matters. While there's a pretty good chance we'll see more volatility in the near term as Europe enters a more uncertain stage, these anti-austerity developments could easily increase the chances of long-term success.
If you're looking for a growing company in an economy that's actually booming, The Motley Fool's chief investment officer picked his top stock for the year -- it's a company that's revolutionizing commerce in rapidly developing Latin American economies. For a limited time, you can get instant access to the name of this company and a special report for free.