Some investors were jittery as 2012 drew to a close and negotiations in Washington over the fiscal cliff brought the U.S. closer to a massive combination of federal spending cuts and tax increases, which were averted with a compromise deal early in January. However, there seems to be little worry over the "sequestration" that may take place on March 1, without another compromise deal between Congress and President Obama. This latest fiscal deadline is a set of federal spending cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over a 10-year period, including an $85 billion spending reduction for the current fiscal year. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the spending cuts could slow U.S. GDP growth by 0.6% this year and 1.25% during 2014. Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, President Obama on Tuesday said that the "meat cleaver approach" of the spending cuts "will jeopardize our military readiness," and add "hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls." The president also said that the cuts "won't consider whether we're cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day." The Republican leadership in Congress seems unlikely to agree to a compromise that includes tax increases, following the tax increases that helped avert the fiscal cliff.
More Bank Bashing On-Tap
Members of Congress are not in Washington this week, so it should be a relatively quiet week among politicians who fail to realize that breaking up the largest U.S. banks may not be in the best long-term interests of the United States. After all, it seems quite unlikely other countries will make similar moves to make their own banks less competitive. FIG Partners analyst Christopher Marinac said in his "weekly musings" report on Tuesday that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is among this year's class of freshman senators, "attended her first meeting of the Senate Banking Committee and appeared noticeably angry towards the Banking Industry." "One long-time Bank CEO remarked to us that it was the most contentious meeting he has ever seen," Marinac said. The analyst asked "how many pounds of flesh are Elizabeth Warren and her fellow anti-bank followers going to extract." Marinac said that "as much as other systemically-important banks could be forced to make changes, we think
Goldman's shares have now returned a very impressive 24% year-to-date, following a 43% return during 2012. Last year's performance was a partial recovery from a 46% drop during 2011. Putting all that together, the shares are down 3% since the end of 2010.
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