CNBC: Washington May Have Lost Its Ability to Move Financial Markets

Wednesday, 16 Oct 2013 09:20 PM

By Dan Weil

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Now that Congress appears to be coming to an agreement over the budget and debt ceiling, at least for some weeks, it is becoming evident that Washington's political machinations aren't affecting financial markets much, say CNBC columnists John Carney and Jeff Cox.

"Washington may have just swung at strike three of its efforts this year to scare Wall Street into doing its bidding," they wrote.

"With the seemingly inevitable conclusion to the debt scare in view, a short-term deal that pushes the hard choices off to another day, another Capitol crisis has passed with investors barely batting an eyelash."

Strike one was the "fiscal cliff" of tax increases avoided in early January. Strike two was the automatic budget cuts (sequester), which began March 1 and have proceeded with little fanfare.

"The lack of reaction from the markets, not just stocks but everything, was more a step back toward mental health," Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, told CNBC.

"We're starting to realize that we've been suffering from Armageddon hypochondria."

Stocks rallied sharply Wednesday on news that Senate leaders reached an accord on the budget and debt ceiling.

"The markets are cheering not only the removal of uncertainty, but the possibility of two positives down the road," Jim Russell, regional investment director for US Bank Wealth Management, told MarketWatch.

"Number one is deficit reduction, and number two is the possible removal of sequestration cuts. Perhaps some more thoughtful deficit-reduction techniques would be in play."

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