Colin Barr

Following the money in banking, economics, and Washington

Last call for the flight to U.S. safety?

June 15, 2011: 1:02 PM ET

The flight to safety trade is alive and well, for now.

The dollar and Treasury bonds rallied Wednesday after Greece's prime minister offered to resign. His resignation would mark the third fall of a bailout country government in recent months, after the collapse of Ireland's governing party last fall and the demise of Portugal's ruling group this spring.

Safe at any speed?

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note plunged to 2.97% from 3.09% at the start of the day, an "overwhelming" move whose size and swiftness point out the scale of the market bet against U.S. debt, says Jim Vogel of FTN Financial.

The euro is also falling, in a reaction that market participants hope will spur meaningful action by European leaders – though for now that hope seems far fetched.

"Sometimes, market alarm is sufficient to spur govt. officials to renew focus on solutions," Vogel writes in a note to clients Wednesday. "The EU has been particularly slow on the uptake on this concept, and that adds an element of 'golly, this is bad' into any given trading day."

Other officials slow on the uptake of that concept happen reside in the U.S. Congress, where the debt ceiling mess threatens to blow up the bond market if left untreated long enough.

In an unsettling parallel with Europe, investors have been content so far to ignore this unfolding disaster, reasoning that cooler heads will prevail.

But the risk, as we are seeing with Greece this week, is that it may soon become clear that they won't – in which case John Boehner and his pals can take credit, along with so much else, for finally killing the goose that lays America's golden flight-to-safety egg. But hey, all in a day's posturing.

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About This Author
Colin Barr
Colin Barr
Senior Writer, Fortune

Colin Barr has covered finance for since November 2007. Previously he was a writer and editor for, winning a 2006 Society of American Business Editors and Writers award for "The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street," and for Dow Jones Newswires. He is a 1991 graduate of Penn State and lives in Port Washington, N.Y., with his wife Meena Bose and their two kids.

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