What's the Latest Development?

You might call it the Merkel market rally. Global stocks jumped yesterday as Europe reached an agreement over how to approach its continent-wide debt problem. German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the negotiations, defying critics who have long said she lacked the initiative to lead Europe and didn't grasp the importance of financial markets. While European banks were prepared to accept a 20 percent loss on the Greek debt they hold, Merkel brokered a 50 percent write down and also expanded the continent's bailout fund. 

What's the Big Idea?

Merkel's background and personality are where some of her critics begin their attack. Born in Communist East Germany and educated in physics, it is said that the German Chancellor remains unfamiliar with how financial markets function and fails to see the primacy of irrationality and emotions in market confidence. But it seems that she is quite capable of leadership when she sees that nobody else is capable of taking a stand. Her negotiating skill, on display yesterday, has shored up her European and domestic support.