As we wind down November and get set for the hectic holiday season that is December, the fiscal cliff draws ever closer, as the minute-by-minute TV coverage continually reminds us.
Fiscal cliff countdown clocks are already appearing, and they'll soon be ticking away the precious remaining seconds before the United States of America goes careening into self-imposed financial ruin -- unless Congress and the White House arrive at a compromise in the last month of 2012. How lucky we media types are to have this ominous event, should it come to pass, coincide perfectly with the coordinated chaos of the famed New Year's Eve Ball drop in Times Square. Things might get a little awkward though when half the room is hollering "Happy New Year," and the other half is crying in their champagne over the impending economic demise of our country.
But even as the drama surrounding the negotiations on tax rates and government spending undoubtedly will heighten in the coming days, the conventional wisdom on Wall Street continues to be that some sort of solution will be reached to avoid the budget cuts and tax increases that would kick in when January gets here. Rex Macey, the chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust, is among those expecting a last-minute fix to avert the cliff. And as he says in the attached video, the theatrics in Washington may just make for a good buying opportunity.
"You have to be nimble and nuanced and hope that there's a little panic before there's a resolution and look at that as a buying opportunity," he says. "I would not be underweight stocks at this point, because if they do come through with a deal, that could be a nice pop for stocks."
But what kind of a deal gets done will really be the key -- a big long-term deal would be better received than a little short-term deal.
"I think a short-term fix is bad because the businesses that are already starting to hold back on investing are not going to start investing if they just kick the can down the road for six months," Macey says.
So, as lawmakers and President Obama take turns appraising the current status of the talks, I would suggest that a third option should be on the table, an option that avoids the partisan fights over tax increases and the entrenched battles over spending cuts. Yes folks, I am talking about growth. A win-win scenario that everyone can agree on and support. Just grow the economy, and all our troubles will disappear.
Well, at least for a while.