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Play It Safe With These Defensive Picks

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Just like government shutdowns, bubbles are not a new phenomenon. Nor do bubbles inflate without letting some "air" out from time to time.

The last U.S. government shutdown was from November 1995 through January 1996. President Bill Clinton and the Congressional majority couldn't agree on a resolution until a compromise prevailed.

The S&P 500 fell almost 4%. It was no fun but it didn't burst the market's bubble. A month after the situation was resolved the S&P was up almost 11%.

That transpired when that bull market was nearly seven years old and it had plenty of running room after the crisis was over. At the moment we're four and a half years into this bull market, and wait till you see how high this one goes.

At the moment there's plenty of fear and trepidation. On Monday what some people call "the fear index" (a.k.a. The VIX) ended up for the day by almost 16%, closing at the high of 19.41. The VIX doesn't have far to go till it reaches the 52-week high of 22.72 reached on Dec. 31, 2012.

So if you're a little perturbed by the headlines and the ruckus over government gridlock and the looming draconian debt-ceiling dilemma, you're not alone. But the Federal Reserve has our backs, so see this well-needed market correction as a chance to "stock up" on defensive, dividend-paying companies.

Before making a couple of suggestions, let's look at what happened to the broader S&P 500 stock index after the VIX topped out at the end of 2012. Here's a one-year picture that paints a thousand words using the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY). SPY Chart SPY data by YCharts

All the factors that caused these amazing first two legs of this bull market are still in place. The final two legs are most likely to surprise to the upside in big ways.

Bargain Stocks and Bargain Sectors

If a stock or a sector is a classic bargain after the Fed's extraordinary monetary policies and bond-buying spree, something is probably wrong.

Take the precious metal subsector of the broader materials sector. After a large correction in the price of precious metals, the miners have been hit hard and are still selling near 52-week lows.
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