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Which Way Wednesday – Cliffmas Is Upon Us

Posted on the 26 December 2012 by Phil's Stock World @philstockworld

That's all the MSM is talking about but the markets are, so far, drifting along in the upper end of the year's range into this potential "fiscal disaster."  Perhaps the catastrophe is already priced in or perhaps it simply won't be a big deal to go back to pre-2000 tax rates and to force some spending cuts.  

If it's the former, a "solution" should rally the markets but, if the latter – fixing the Fiscal Cliff may actually weaken our markets as it puts the US on the continued path to endless debt through printing money.  

Of course Japan has continued down the path of endless debt through printing money and their markets have been on fire this week.  With the re-election of Helicopter Abe, who has vowed to weaken the yen by printing them by the Trillions, the Nikkei has jumped 2.5% this week – all the way back to 10,330 while the Yen falls to 85.36 to the Dollar – a 3-year low. 

Which Way Wednesday – Cliffmas Is Upon Us
Our own easy-money policy coupled with the refusal of the Banks to pass it along to the consumer have created record-high spreads between what the MBS the Banks pay the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate they charge consumers.  Banks are now making spreads of 1.25-1.5% vs. less than 0.5% they managed to get by on in the early years of the 21st Century.

Despite making these usurious rates, they still offer the consumers less than nothing for deposits (as in, not enough to cover even "core" inflation) and they still can't attract investors, with the banking sector still down near half of where they were in 2007, when XLF was in the high $30s.  

House Republicans © Jimmy Margulies,The Record of Hackensack, NJ,House Republicans,Fiscal cliff,Speaker Boehner,Budget deficit,new year 2013
Another cliff we hit on 12/31 is the end of FDIC's special Transaction Account Guarantee, which provided insurance for accounts over $250,000 and will affect $1.5Tn worth of accounts on deposit at US banks.  Banks, especially small ones, are scrambling to avoid losing this money and it will make for an interesting earnings season in Q1 as the banks step into the confessional and indicate how much faith their depositors really have in them. 

On the other side of the coin, the Obama Administration is looking to double the size of the popular HAMP Program, which helps modify mortgages, by making it possible for non Government-backed mortgage-lenders to work with…

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