Everyone by now knows that the financial crisis in Europe is worrisome, even if they don't know exactly how it might affect others if Greece drops out of the Euro zone or Spain's banks go bust.
A news item today gives a concrete example. It is widely known that Greece has been profligate, Spain had a housing bubble even greater than that in the U.S., and Italy has an imprudent level of government debt.
But what about Switzerland? Why would this matter to Switzerland, which doesn't use the Euro, and which has long been considered one of the safest places in the world to keep one's money.
Shares of Credit Suisse, one of the two leading Swiss banks, fell 10% today after the Swiss central bank issued a statement that Credit Suisse needed to stop paying dividends to shareholders or else issue more shares to bolster its financial condition because of credit losses. (The other leading bank, UBS, had to be bailed out by the government in 2008.)
So when top banks in Switzerland need help, it really is serious.
At a time like this, it doesn't hurt to own some gold--just in case.