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While almost all of us in this business are inherent optimists, we need to be realistic about the economy and the world in order not to get ourselves into trouble again and to make sound investment decisions. First, Europe is still going round and round and not solving its problems. Greece remains a disaster and Spain is now in almost as bad shape. With unemployment in Spain in excess of 25%, and the government not working with the ECB as well as it should, things in Spain will likely get worse before they get better. France is in worsening shape and the new government is headed in completely the wrong direction with the lowering of the retirement age and the large tax increases just imposed. Italy bumbles along not fully tackling its core issues. The end result is Europe has many more years of crisis and potentially a complete reordering of the Euro. Whatever happens, it is going to be seven to ten or maybe more years before Europe is again a real engine of economic vitality. The real worry is that the standard of living will decline substantially and that will lead to major social unrest and the rise of far left or far right governments who then create even worse issues. Bottom line, Europe is not where investors are going to want to be for a long time. It may appear like a potential bargain, but it is not Japan, and the risks are huge.

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