After the Minimalist Debt Ceiling Deal: The Good & Bad News

Last week, investors cheered that Washington finally reached a last-minute debt ceiling deal. But despite their big sigh of relief, the debt ceiling deal wasn’t all good news. Russ provides a quick look at the good, the bad and the investing implications of the compromise.

Last week, investors cheered that Washington managed to eke out a deal at the 11th hour. But despite any headlines to the contrary, the debt ceiling deal wasn’t all good news. Here’s a quick look at the good and bad news and its implications for investors.

The Good News

The Bad News

  • The short-term deal solves nothing. While the deal did temporarily extend the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, it didn’t solve the country’s long-term issues and the economy is still struggling. The market will face the same issues again in early 2014, at which point not much will have changed.

By most political metrics, such as voting records, both the House and the Senate are more polarized than they have been in at least a century. Given how far apart the two parties are philosophically, the type of short-term deal that was struck last week may become a template for what to expect over the next year, and potentially for the next three, if the political status quo holds after the 2014 mid-term elections.

And while the United States isn’t in danger of a recession, slower growth isn’t consistent with the continuous rise in US valuations. US stocks are now trading at roughly 2.5x book value, a 15% increase from the end of 2012.

So what does this mean for investors?

I expect that continued Fed accommodation will help support stocks, which look reasonable on a global basis, over the next six to 12 months. However, last week’s rally seems aggressive for a few reasons: All Congress could fashion was a temporary solution, economic growth remains soft and the Fed will likely start to taper at some point in the next six months or so.

In addition, though US stocks still look reasonable compared to their historic valuations, they are looking fully valued relative to an environment of 2% growth. Though I continue to see good bargains outside the United States, there are fewer bargains in the US market.

As such, I continue to advocate that investors consider raising their allocations to international equities, and within the US market, the energy and technology sectors appear to be more reasonably priced. Finally, given that I expect the Fed to implement a more conservative taper, I’m now advocating that investors overweight MBS relative to other fixed income instruments.


Source: Bloomberg

Russ Koesterich, CFA, is the Chief Investment Strategist for BlackRock and iShares Chief Global Investment Strategist. He is a regular contributor to The Blog and you can find more of his posts here.

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Bonds and bond funds will decrease in value as interest rates rise and are subject to credit risk, which refers to the possibility that the debt issuers may not be able to make principal and interest payments or may have their debt downgraded by ratings agencies. Mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) represent interests in “pools” of mortgages and are subject to credit, prepayment and extension risk, and therefore react differently to changes in interest rates than other bonds. Small movements in interest rates may quickly and significantly reduce the value of certain MBS.