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Fiscal Cliff Commentary

At White House Financial we pride ourselves on being unique and different and hence we were going to attempt to NOT have any commentary on the “Fiscal Cliff”, however, prudence won out and we just wanted to make sure all of our friends and clients knew where we stand on this subject.  So here it is!!  Hot off the presses!

For those of you who have been traveling far away from any type of “civilization” the “Fiscal Cliff” is a package of significant tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in 2013.

Prior legislative compromises over U.S. fiscal policy have set the stage for automatic spending cuts and tax hikes.  The fiscal cliff refers to:

1.)    Sun-setting of Bush-era tax rates,

2.)   Expiration of Obama-era stimulus measures, and Implementation of across-the-board spending cuts.

The timing and magnitude of any resulting shocks are subject to debate, but the near-term implications are clearly negative and quite capable of tipping the U.S. economy into recession.

While 2012 was a major election year, nothing really changed.  President Obama won re-election and, although 86 lawmakers will not be returning to office, the makeup of the Senate and House are nearly identical in terms of party affiliation.  We see difficult negotiations and more political gridlock ahead of the fiscal-cliff deadline.  We still believe theres a greater likelihood of some kind of resolution to the fiscal cliff, however temporary.  But there is enough uncertainty at this point to ask the question, What happens if we do take the dive?

For  financial advisors like us,  the  challenge  with  an event like the fiscal cliff is that you dont know whether or not  it  will  happen  until  after  the  fact.  Positioning a portfolio for an event that never transpires can have as detrimental a result in terms of performance and trading costs as the actual event itself.  Despite this, the concerns about the fiscal cliff are already having an impact. Government spending in the fourth quarter set new records as purchases have been pulled forward (Source:  SEI Investments).  Businesses have held off on hiring and purchasing decisions as they wait for clarity. Financial markets are already reacting.

Investors  who  have  a  primary  objective  of  avoiding short-term volatility should carefully consider the portion of  their  portfolios  invested  in  stocks.  However, we believe that short-term turmoil created by concern over the fiscal cliff underscores the importance of goals- based investing. In our view, goals-based investing can be a powerful tool to help steer clients against market fear and uncertainty by better managing human preferences, biases and behaviors that can undermine their financial success. Goals-based investing can help clients invest according to their unique needs, desires and time horizons in a way that helps them look beyond intermittent market volatility.

If the fiscal cliff is avoided, fundamentals are still good and equity valuations reasonable. The U.S. economy is in pretty good shape. If markets fall sharply or the cliff is resolved in a surprisingly favorable way, we would take a bullish outlook. The 2011 debt-ceiling fiasco may be instructive. There were several negative surprises and markets fell apart for a time. A rerun of this is possible.

We are sympathetic to the view that emerging markets and Europe offer better relative value than U.S. equity markets. But Europe is cheap for good reason.

So what should you do? First, we never advocate ever changing your long term investment strategy based on the tax code.   Your investment strategy should be managed for tax efficiency on a regular basis and should also be sufficiently diverse and flexible to weather different tax environments (please note that diversification is a risk management strategy and does not guarantee against investment losses).  Second, leave worrying about the fiscal cliff and the effect on your investments, the economy and your financial health to us and ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS WITH YOUR LOVED ONES!!!


It is going to be an interesting end of the year!

White House Financial & Settlement Consulting helps families live easier and less stressful lives through the proper management of their financial resources.  We do this by acting as our clients’ trusted advisor providing a personal touch customized to the client’s needs!  Please visit our web site at for more information!

Securities offered through Sigma Financial Corporation.  Member FINRA / SIPC

Fee-based investment advisory services offered through Sigma Planning Corporation, a registered investment advisor

The information set forth herein was obtained from sources which we believe reliable, but we do not guarantee its accuracy.   In addition, past performance is no guarantee of future results and we do not provide legal or tax advice.


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