Top strategist Kenneth Fisher says the “fiscal cliff” drama is far overblown, and that the overwrought fears about budget cuts and tax hikes are actually a bullish sign.
“If there’s no deal, it’s not a crisis. The fiscal cliff is fake,” Fisher says in an interview with Forbes. “A political invention, arbitrarily put at January 1 because it was politically expedient in 2010 to stick it there. Now it’s politically expedient to push it past the 2014 elections. Democrats have more to lose in 2014 than is commonly perceived now and they’ll want to compromise.”
Fisher says that the “cliff” is “really more of a fiscal rolling plain”, because its impact isn’t felt all at once. “Spending cuts are already underway and will happen piecemeal, allegedly, over the year,” he says. “The higher taxes, many of them, aren’t due until April of 2014.”
Fisher also says that even if the tax hikes and spending cuts associated with the cliff do go into effect, it won’t be a big problem for the stock market. He says that history shows there’s no clear correlation between stock returns and tax levels. “What’s clear to me from studying this is, whether you raise taxes or cut them, stocks want to rise much more than fall and will do what they were going to do anyway,” he says, noting that a myriad of factors besides tax rates in one country impact the market.
Overall, Fisher says the cliff fears are a bullish sign. “Even if tax hikes happen as feared, vast history tells me it doesn’t have to have the big bad impact folks fear,” he says. “And fear of a false factor is always bullish.”