Take Advantage of the Fiscal Cliff
It's completely man-made, and it's not really a bad thing. It's deficit reduction. You know, cut spending and raise taxes in equal measure. Get out of the red.
The measure would, over two years, cut our annual deficit by nearly three quarters, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (See this chart on Wikipedia for more.)
So what's the problem?
The problem is that with the economy still weak, it's too much too soon. All this talk about "Rise Above" partisanship is aimed at weakening the package, not strengthening it. It's all about deciding who won't have to suffer, because in this package everyone does.
There's also nothing magical about the Jan. 1 "deadline." If a deal to limit austerity comes on Jan. 5 instead of Dec. 31, it makes little economic difference. If it comes at the end of January, the damage will still be very limited. It's only if it never comes that we go into recession.
The likelihood of recession is why the CBO numbers are wrong. Austerity is not a path to prosperity, it's a limit on growth meant to achieve some other end. If we do go down this path, everyone on both sides agrees we will have a recession, and more unemployment, which drives deficits up, not down.
So a deal will be had. Everyone wants a pony and the deal will be about who gets their pony back.
But you can still make money off this. Because the media has everyone panicking, because talking about this like it's a crisis instead of a little too much of a good thing has already sunk consumer confidence and ruined the Christmas sales, according to Reuters.
For example. I've wanted to buy some Amazon.com (AMZN) . I sold at a profit, at $230/share, but figured it would fall again and it didn't. Even with the panic so far it's still near $248/share. So if this nonsense slides into late this week, and stocks fall hard, I may be able to get a bargain.
You should always have your favorites handy for such emergencies. I call this list my "panic sheet" because when everyone else is panicking I whip it out and start getting greedy.
I think Apple (AAPL) is dirt cheap at these levels. An earnings multiple well below the market plus a 2.55% yield? That's what I call an after-Christmas sale.
Or how about some JPMorgan Chase (JPM) ? Banking is a great business, the company seems to have shed much of its garbage, and a drop from the current level of about $43/share could let you get in at an earnings multiple of just nine, plus the dividend.
Don't like the banks? Well, Exxon Mobil (XOM) is selling at a similar multiple, with a similar yield to both Apple and JPMorgan.