Are fiscal cliff doomsayers overreacting?
While many bemoan the possibility of the America's topple over the fiscal cliff, some major investors say even if Congress doesn't reach a deal by the end of the year, the economic outlook may not be as bad as it seems.
The "fiscal cliff" sounds like a scary place. Headlines about "taxmaggeddon" are flashing on TV screens, next to clocks ticking down to Jan. 1.Skip to next paragraph
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But some major investors say the doomsayers are getting too much attention and cliff watchers should relax a bit.
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These investors argue that the U.S. economy does not face immediate disaster if lawmakers can't reach a deal by the end of the year, and there will still be time for Washington to come up with a deal in early 2013 before major damage starts to be done.
"It is not impossible at all that they miss by a little and then come back and get it," said billionaire investor Ken Fisher, whose firm Fisher Investments oversees about $38 billion in equities. "There's a minor risk ... but getting it done 10 days later is not really a big deal."
Others say Washington has more time than that.
"The fact they can't get along for the month of January is not going to torpedo the economy," he said.
Chief executives warn of the damaging effects of uncertainty on their investment and hiring decisions. Many investors have focused on the risk of a new recession if the cliff is not addressed. And tumbling stock prices can add to the sense of panic and hurt both business and consumer confidence.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the tax hikes and spending cuts would amount to $600 billion in 2013 and could cause the U.S. economy to contract by nearly 3 percent in the first half of the year.
But that does not mean the pain begins automatically at the start of January.