With the conclusion of Monday night’s verbal brawl over foreign policy in Boca Raton, Fla., the presidential and vice presidential candidates have now participated in more than six hours of televised debates spanning four nights and touching on just about every imaginable topic (this doesn’t include the GOP primaries, of course).
President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have repeatedly squared off over: taxes; the budget deficit; women’s issues; the middle class; American factory production; and China. But one critical subject was sorely missing from all of those discussions. Neither candidate uttered a word about a topic that has obsessed the barons of Washington policy making and the dons of Wall Street – the fiscal cliff.
“It’s pretty stunning that it didn’t come up [during the debates] and it’s certainly not clear to me why no moderator raised the question,” William Galston, a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, told The Fiscal Times this week. “With regard to the urgent fiscal question facing the country, this campaign has missed an opportunity to educate the public to these issues. As a result, these will come as a big surprise to the public.”
Though President Obama briefly addressed the sequester of defense spending in the final presidential debate on Monday, saying in no uncertain terms that it wouldn’t happen, he gave no explanation as to how he planned to reach an agreement with Congress to head off the massive cuts. The moderator, longtime CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, didn’t press the issue further, as many in Washington would have liked.
The Fiscal Times reports that “neither Obama nor Romney mentioned the larger issue of a looming fiscal cliff, when a combination of $607 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases are set to take place beginning next Jan. 2 – posing the threat of another recession and widespread layoffs in the defense and aerospace industry.”
GOOD FOR THE DOLLAR, BAD FOR EVERYONE ELSE If Washington fails to strike a deal on deficit reduction and the country is forced over the fiscal cliff, the dollar may not go down with it. Julie Haviv of Reuters reports that a financial downturn might actually benefit the currency, as the recession did in 2008. “Should we hit another recession, the dollar could rise by 10 percent, with a 5 percent gain in December before we hit the ‘fiscal cliff’ and another 5 percent gain in January,” said Greg Anderson, G10 strategist at CitiFX, a division of Citigroup in New York. - Read more at Reuters
GE GEARS UP FOR THE CLIFF In preparation for market turbulence in response to the year-end cuts and tax increases, Keith Sherin, General Electric’s chief financial officer, said the company has already taken steps to counter the fiscal cliff. The Financial Times’ Ed Crooks and Vivianne Rodrigues report that GE sold $7 billion worth of bonds to refinance $5 billion in debt maturing next February. “We don’t have to worry about what happens if the fiscal cliff is not resolved,” Sherin said. “If it is choppy, we are prepared.” - Read more at The Financial Times
HEDGE FUNDS SEE HUGE THREAT The fiscal cliff is the biggest concern facing hedge funds, according to a recent survey by Macro Risk Advisors. CNBC’s Matt Twomey reports that more than 60 percent of hedge funds listed the possibility of across-the-board spending reductions and steep tax hikes as their top concern. This is a shift from the previous three years, when European issues were the top worry. “As U.S. economic growth continues to disappoint, the survey suggests major investors are watching the shifting balance of power in Washington very closely.” The survey included responses from more than 50 hedge funds overseeing at least $1 billion. - Read more at CNBC
GREENSPAN: ‘DEEPLY CONCERNED’ Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan told CNBC Tuesday he is “quite concerned” about the fiscal cliff and the inability of legislators to compromise on a solution. Greenspan said the two parties must compromise “not principles, but how [they] implement them so the economy can avoid the consequences of going over the fiscal cliff.” - Read more at CNBC
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