Editor's note: As part of our partnership with PBS's Nightly Business Report, TheStreet's Robert Walberg joined NBR's Tom Hudson to discuss the results of Tuesday's statement from the Federal Reserve.
When the Fed is embarking on a defined policy course -- either steadily raising or lowering rates -- fighting that action is a sure recipe for disaster. But such is not the case today. With mixed economic signals, and an internal debate raging over whether deflation or inflation is the biggest risk to the economy going forward, the Fed on Tuesday opted to keep policy on hold.
Nevertheless, the decision to keep its balance sheet the same by rolling over maturing mortgage-backed securities into long-term Treasuries sent investors a clear signal that the Fed is more concerned at the moment with the slowing pace of economic growth than the potential inflationary impact of easy money. That said, with only about $200 billion in securities maturing over the next year, this was the monetary equivalent of the 100-pound weakling flexing his muscle.
The bottom-line for investors is that the Fed is a toothless tiger. It can still roar from time to time, but there's just no bite left. Rates are already at, or near, zero. You can buy a car, big-screen TV or dining room set with 0% financing, or a home with a sub-5% mortgage. Money is cheap. But as long as unemployment is high, credit is tight and the housing market is soft, there won't be sufficient consumer demand to drive a strong economic recovery -- and frankly there's just not much the Fed can do about it.
So despite all the debate leading up to Tuesday's FOMC announcement, the end result was a non-event. Left without a clear signal from the Fed, stocks should remain confined to the trading range that has persisted for the past couple of months. Given that we find ourselves near the top of that range at the moment, I think investors need to remain defensive.
Three stocks that I would be buying today are:
- Apple (AAPL) - Get Report - Leading consumer technology company in the world today, and hitting on all cylinders. Despite its advance, stock is trading at reasonable valuations given strong growth, management and balance sheet.
Boeing (BA) - Get Report - Industry leader is on the threshold of a multi-year growth cycle. Decent dividend yield and strong earnings growth make it an attractive holding in uncertain times.
Best Buy (BBY) - Get Report - Out-of-favor retail titan trading at valuations that make it too compelling to pass up. Consumer electronics likely to be hot spot this holiday season as well.
Robert Walberg is chief market strategist and editor of Premium Products at
. Prior to joining
, Walberg was founder and president of Chartwell Asset Management, a financial advisory company. Before founding Chartwell, he worked as a financial analyst and columnist for
from 2003 to 2008. Walberg was on the founding team at
from 1996 to 2003, working as chief equity analyst, formulating the company's near-, intermediate- and long-term market positions. He was regularly quoted by
The Wall Street Journal
Investor's Business Daily
and made guest appearances on
ABC World News
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
. Walberg received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Illinois.