NEW YORK (
) -- It's laughable how little policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic have been able to accomplish in their efforts to get a handle on myriad debt problems since late summer.
Monday's failure of the congressional
committee to find a way to compromise and make the hard choices needed to reduce the U.S. deficit is the latest embarrassment; concrete proof that legislators are still willing to gamble with the country's future if they deem intractability is politically expedient in the short term.
weighed in while the broad equity indices were swooning Monday afternoon, saying the situation places added strain on an economy that just seemed to be getting back on semi-solid footing. It's not just the lack of an agreement now, the firm says, explaining that the incessant posturing is casting serious doubt on the ability to the federal government to, well,
. That could cause all kinds of confidence -- investor, business and consumer -- to slump, and knock the recovery off track.
"The biggest risk to the economy in the near term is posed by the reaction of financial markets," the firm said, adding later: "Increased macroeconomic uncertainty from failure of the Super Committee to meet its mandate may yet further roil credit markets, including a possible further downgrade of U.S. debt, and contribute to a weaker near-term outlook."
Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at
High Frequency Economics
, however, took a relaxed view of the situation, asking if the committee's failure even matters.
"Now what? Well, nothing much. The sequestering process does not start to cut spending until 2013, so it is subject to the whims of the next Congress," he wrote. "What one Congress has made, another can unmake."
Shepherdson said he would be "quite surprised" if the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that are supposed to kick into law ever come to pass, and that he doesn't see the failure of the committee impacting demand for U.S. debt.
"We have never seen markets punish a country for failing to take preventive action to deal with a problem that is 20 years away and we don't expect that to change anytime soon," he said.
As for another downgrade of the country's credit rating, Shepherdson acknowledges the likelihood has increased but doesn't think the stock market will be roiled the same way this time around.
The failure of the Supercommittee greatly increases the odds that Fitch and Moody's will join S&P in downgrading U.S. long-term debt," he wrote. "S&P's move on August 5 sparked a 6% drop in the stock market, but we would be hugely surprised by a repeat performance now. Even the scariest move is less frightening the second -- and third -- time around."
With Monday's close at 11,547, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
is down 3.4% so far in November, falling back into negative territory for 2011. The pressure on Santa Claus only builds from here.
As for scheduled news,
reports its third-quarter results after Tuesday's closing bell, and Wall Street is expecting the Internet radio company to deliver a loss of a penny per share for the October-ended period on revenue of $71.4 million.
Oakland, Calif.-based Pandora went public in mid-June, pricing at $16 per share, well above an projected range of $10-$12. Unfortunately, the heavy demand on the front end has been followed by lukewarm investor interest through the summer's volatility. The stock topped out at $26 on its first day of action, but it's been mostly downhill since then. Monday's close at $12.52 represents a 22% decline from the initial pricing.
In its first-ever quarterly report as a public company back on Aug. 25, Pandora posted a surprise profit and beat Wall Street's revenue view by a healthy 10%. The sell side is still very bullish ahead of the numbers with 10 of the 12 analysts covering the stock at either strong buy (6) or buy (4), and the 12-month median price target sitting at $17.
Barrington Research previewed the report late last week, and it defended recent weakness in Pandora's stock, attributing the selling pressure to "competitive noise," specifically a new offering from
"Google is entering digital music with an "owned music" and active playlist offering, similar to Spotify and ITunes," the firm said. "We do not view it as a direct threat since Pandora offers a free discovery music streaming service, rather than download-to-own for a fee."
Barrington has an outperform rating on Pandora with an $18 price target, and the firm is placing a priority on operating metrics, rather than bottom-line performance.
"Despite advertising-industry weakness and competitive noise, we expect Pandora to continue posting significant growth given its differentiated, disruptive technology and early stage of corporate development," Barrington said.
Among the numbers the firm is anticipating from Pandora is 38.9 million active users, defined as those who have used the service in the past 30 days, a performance that would be up 62% from last year and 5% sequentially. It sees listener hours reaching 1.98 billion for the quarter, nearly doubling from last year's equivalent period.
Companies slated to report their quarterly numbers on Tuesday include
Cracker Barrel Old Country
Aside from Pandora,
are expected to open their books after the close.
Tuesday's economic data includes a second crack at third-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m. ET with the consensus expecting the estimate to dip down to growth of 2.3% from the initial read of 2.5%.
The market also gets the minutes of the Nov. 2 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m., providing an added dose of insight into what Ben Bernanke & Co. were thinking last time they got together. Hard to see much new ground being broken here.
was a big mover in
after the networking equipment maker blew past Wall Street's expectations for its quarterly results. Demand for Ethernet products was strong from both service providers and enterprise customers, which could signal the company is set to start building up some momentum.
The same can't be said for Dow component
unfortunately. Meg Whitman decided to the company needed to take its medicine, and shaved the outlook for fiscal 2012 by nearly 12%, forecasting adjusted earnings of at least $4 per share vs. the current consensus view of $4.54 a share. The stock dipped more than 2% in late trades, so the Dow is already facing some of those ubiquitous headwinds all the CFOs are always going on about.
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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