NEW YORK (Real Money) -- With this rally these last two days, the bulls are now ratcheting things up, but things are good with these two days of decent action. So you would certainly expect some weakness and spillover from a sloppy Europe. It's a funny thing, though: Of late, when we get these kinds of rallies into huge events, like the Federal Reserve meeting, they tend to lead to some rather quick, almost instant unsettling action immediately after the event. Then comes a rebound and resumption of the rally that led into it.
On Tuesday night, I chatted with some investors who wanted to know why the pundits were all making such a big deal about the Fed when it's clear that, if you've worried about the Fed all the way up, you haven't made nearly as much money as you would have otherwise done. Those investors wondered if, perhaps, that's because the Fed's importance is overstated. They questioned whether it's all been blown out of proportion vs. the prospects of the companies I think people should own.
That's a pretty compelling statement, when you think about it. What has all of this worrying about the Fed done for you? How has it helped you at all to make money? I think the answer is obvious. If you've bought stocks every time the media has fretted and cried woe, you've gotten better prices than if you haven't. It's a sideshow that often occupies the main stage.
Of course, the run-up into the meeting doesn't help things for the bulls. There are going to be some sellers today who will be wishing they had gotten out Thursday, but who have waited for higher prices -- and now they've got them.
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But an interesting dynamic will materialize if the market sells off too hard today: If we see a big decline, the odds for a rally after the meeting will be that much better. That's because, if the Fed stays the course, the market could really ramp higher, and if the central bank changes its tune slightly we can argue that's why the market was down to begin with.
What could change the outcome? What could really hammer the market? Even in a worst-case scenario I do not believe we'd get a selloff of greater than 5% unless they say, "We are prepared to let rates rise by doing nothing, cold turkey." Somehow, with a few weeks left in a very good year ahead of a brand new Fed chief, I don't think that's in the cards.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 7:40 a.m. EST on Real Money on Dec. 17.