It's another low-key day in the markets. As of 1:30 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones
However, while many stocks today are seeing light trading and indexes are on the move, there are plenty of storylines to follow in the week ahead. Let's take a look at two storylines investors should be watching.
What would Ben do?
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is speaking this Friday at a Fed symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The significance of the speech is that Bernanke used the venue in 2010 to foreshadow the second round of quantitative easing. Is such a move likely again? Probably not. As Bloomberg points out, while many point to Jackson Hole in 2010 as the moment a second round of quantitative easing was put on the table, markets initially found his speech "inconclusive." While Bernanke's speech will be widely followed, I'd expect more action to come in follow-up Open Market Committee meetings.
Germany in focus
The whims of how investors feel about Europe seem to move in ebbs and flows. Despite continuing uncertainty, Spanish 10-year yields have moved from 7.59% on July 24 down to 6.47% last Friday. That's a huge move, and it gives the country quite a bit more breathing room. Not only that, but after two-year notes shot all the way up to 6.79% in late July -- effectively flattening Spain's yield curve in a straight line near 7% and crippling its ability to borrow more cheaply with short-term loans -- they've now receded back to 3.87%.
However, the situation in Europe remains very fluid. The main storyline has reverted back to Greece, where Prime Minister Georgios Samaras has asked for more "air to breath" -- that is, more time to get its house in order -- but no new money. Any changes in Greece's position or further deterioration in the German public's opinion of the eurozone could shift markets south.
However, the real main event in the crisis in Europe will occur Sept. 12, when Germany's Constitutional Court rules whether the country can support the European Stability Mechanism, or ESM, which would distribute 700 billion euros to aid weakened eurozone countries. If German courts push back against the ESM, look out below. Europe's current troubles could look quaint in comparison.
Keep the long-term view
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Eric Bleeker owns no shares of companies mentioned above. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.