Guest post by Lance Roberts of Streettalklive.
The recent market selloff has not been about the re-election of President Obama but rather the repositioning of assets by professional investors in anticipation of three key events coming between now and the end of this year – the “fiscal cliff”, the debt ceiling and the expiration of the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG). Each of these events have different impacts on the economy and the financial markets – but the one thing that they have in common is that they will all be battle grounds between a dividend House and Senate.
While there has been a plethora of articles and media coverage about the upcoming standoff between the two parties, little has been written to cover the details of exactly what will be impacted and why it is so important to the financial markets and economy.
One of the primary reasons for the market selloff since the announcement of QE3 has been in anticipation of the some of the largest tax hikes in the history of America, which will take place at the end of the year. These tax hikes will impact families and businesses, the middle class and the rich, the economy and the markets.
In 2001, and then again in 2003, President Bush and Congress enacted tax cuts to help restart the economy post the tech bubble, 9/11 terror attack and recession. Primarily these tax cuts were focused on small business owners, families, and investors and, while dubbed the “Bush Tax Cuts”, they became the “Obama Tax Cuts” when they were extended in 2010.
Europe’s Mediterranean rim trembled on Wednesday as violent clashes broke out following the largest coordinated multinational strike in Europe ever. In the hope to stave off decades of austerity, precarity and unemployment, European labor unions united for the first time since the start of the European debt crisis to organize strikes and protests in a total of 23 EU member states, with millions of workers walking off their jobs and marching on parliament buildings across the continent. Bloody street battles ensued across Spain, Portugal and Italy.
In Italy, over 300,000 protested in over 100 cities as workers observed a 4-hour stoppage in solidarity with Greek, Spanish and Portuguese workers. In Milan and Rome, scenes of street “guerriglia” were witnessed as thousands of students clashed with riot police, bringing traffic to a standstill and leading to dozens of injuries. In Sardinia, industry minister Corrado Passera and Fabrizio Barca, minister of territorial cohesion, had to be evacuated by helicopter after angry protesters besieged a meeting and started burning cars all around them.
Several years before the financial crisis descended on us, I put forward the concept of “black swans”: large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential. We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world: Think of World War I, 9/11, the Internet, the rise of Google.
In economic life and history more generally, just about everything of consequence comes from black swans; ordinary events have paltry effects in the long term. Still, through some mental bias, people think in hindsight that they “sort of” considered the possibility of such events; this gives them confidence in continuing to formulate predictions. But our tools for forecasting and risk measurement cannot begin to capture black swans. Indeed, our faith in these tools make it more likely that we will continue to take dangerous, uninformed risks.