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TheStreet Open House

An Election-Year Lexicon

By Fisher Investments

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As if it weren't hard enough to know if a politician means what he says. Now, they say what they mean, but what they mean isn't what those words mean at all! According to them.

For example, this year we've already hadĀ  President Obama's "You didn't build that" moment, and now Republican candidate Mitt Romney's anecdote which allegedly indicates he "doesn't care about half of America." How politicians define some words and phrases would undoubtedly surprise some folks.

Take "spending cuts," for example. To most folks, that means a decrease in the total amount the government spends on whatever service or program is in question. Cutting total spending. Yet, to many politiciansĀ "spending cuts" actually means a cut in the rate of growth of spending. In other words, more spending, just not as much more as originally indicated. Both sides of the aisle are guilty of this little rhetorical trick.

How about "fiscal stimulus"? Yet another example of a term that can mean two very different, near opposite things.

To many (typically, though not exclusively, on the left), fiscal stimulus means at its core more government spending -- on infrastructure projects, social services, entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

But to many others (mostly on the right), "fiscal stimulus" could mean something much more akin to tax cuts and business deregulation -- putting the pieces in place to decrease government's overall size and provide a stimulus to the private sector through less burdensome government involvement.

The list is endless, and the meaning of any term that could be included on the list could no doubt be debated for hours.

But for those of us in the investment world (and likely the private sector more broadly), there isn't the luxury of endlessly parsing language. There's simply the reality of regulations, taxes, policies, laws, etc. and their likely impact on future business decisions.

Which means from a money management perspective, we don't have much room for political ideology. We remain consciously and deliberately politically agnostic, taking change as it comes and doing our best to assess its likely impact on capital markets and the economy.

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