Tags: Obama | fiscal | cliff | avert

Wall Street to Obama: Avert Fiscal Cliff Right Now

Wednesday, 07 Nov 2012 11:09 AM

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Now that President Barack Obama has won a second term, his first order of business should be to steer the country away from the series of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to kick in at the end of the year, Wall Street analysts say.

With the close of 2012, a string of tax cuts are set to expire at the same time automatic cuts to government spending are set to kick in, a combination known as a fiscal cliff that could send the country into a recession next year if left unchecked by Congress.

Lawmakers were generally unwilling to tackle tax and spending issues prior to elections, but now that American voters kept Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate and Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, both sides have to put partisan differences aside and tackle the cliff right now.

Editor's Note: You Deserve to Know What Obama and Bernanke Are Hiding From Americans

“Tackling the fiscal cliff will be the first order of business,” Craig Johnson, a market strategist at Piper Jaffray, told USA Today.

“If we can get any sort of sign that the cliff will be avoided or minimized, it would lift another piece of uncertainty from the investment landscape.”

Wall Street would applaud aversion of the cliff, while failure to craft policy to keep the country from rolling over would roil markets and bruise corporate earnings.

“We have to remove the fiscal-cliff uncertainty,” Hugh Johnson, chairman and chief investment officer at Hugh Johnson Advisors, also told USA Today.

Other market watchers fear Washington’s bickering and finger pointing will fail to steer the country away from the cliff or will lead to a lukewarm compromise that fuels ongoing uncertainty.

“I think the government looks very polarized, and the probability of going off the fiscal cliff goes up, and the outlook or the market looks negative. I don’t see any silver lining in it,” said Barry Knapp, head of equity portfolio strategy at Barclays, according to CNBC.

“This doesn’t’ look like the government coming toward the middle to me. A divided government with hardened positions. Who knows, maybe the president wakes up and says my political career is over and he wants to be the great healer.”

Fiscal issues aside, other experts expect loose monetary policies to stick around.

Under President Obama’s first term, the Federal Reserve slashed and kept interest rates to near zero and pumped the economy with trillions of dollars in fresh liquidity via a monetary policy tool known as quantitative easing, under which the U.S. central bank buys bonds from banks and floods the economy with excess money supply to encourage investing and hiring.

“As pundits will shift the focus on the fiscal cliff, the market appears firmly focused on what may be more relevant: an Obama win favors a continuation of the current easy money policy,” said Axel Merk, president and chief investment officer at Merk Investments, according to CNNMoney.

Editor's Note: You Deserve to Know What Obama and Bernanke Are Hiding From Americans

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