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My Friend, 'Fiscal' Cliff

If, in fact, no extensions are made, or they are for above 250,000 only, dividend-paying stocks will more than likely suffer the consequences at some point, not necessarily by year's end.

An increase in rates from 15% to 43.4% (including the Medicare surtax), will make these stocks less attractive, and non-dividend payers, or high-quality growth names more attractive. Munis might be also be looked upon favorably, except for the fact that yields are so low.

Mr. Market is not yet worried about any of this. Heck, there's still three months left in the year. What worries me most, beyond the deficit and fact that tax increases are but a drop in the bucket in solving it and will likely hurt economic "growth," is a scenario in which the tax rates and laws are again temporarily fixed.

Uncertainty does not help matters. Uncertainty is why companies have so much cash on the books and are not hiring.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in the "fiscal" cliff issue. More for another day.

"Fiscal" Cliff, if you are reading this, you may want to trademark that name.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Jonathan Heller, CFA, is president of KEJ Financial Advisors, his fee-only financial planning company. Jon spent 17 years at Bloomberg Financial Markets in various roles, from 1989 until 2005. He ran Bloomberg's Equity Fundamental Research Department from 1994 until 1998, when he assumed responsibility for Bloomberg's Equity Data Research Department. In 2001, he joined Bloomberg's Publishing group as senior markets editor and writer for Bloomberg Personal Finance Magazine, and an associate editor and contributor for Bloomberg Markets Magazine. In 2005, he joined SEI Investments as director of investment communications within SEI's Investment Management Unit.

Jon is also the founder of the Cheap Stocks Web site, a site dedicated to deep-value investing. He has an undergraduate degree from Grove City College and an MBA from Rider University, where he has also served on the adjunct faculty; he is also a CFA charter holder.

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