Wall St. holiday ‘on standby’ as clock ticks on fiscal cliff; ‘quadruple witching’ looms

“The last two weeks of December are traditionally quiet for stocks, but traders accustomed to a bit of time off are staying close to their mobile devices, thanks to the ‘fiscal cliff,'” Angela Moon reports for Reuters.

“Last-minute negotiations in Washington on the so-called fiscal cliff – nearly $600 billion of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January that could cause a sharp slowdown in growth or even a recession – are keeping some traders and analysts from taking Christmas holidays because any deal could have a big impact on markets,” Moon reports. “‘A lot of firms are saying to their trading desks, ‘You can take days off for Christmas, but you are on standby to come in if anything happens.’ This is certainly different from previous years, especially around this time of the year when things are supposed to be slowing down,’ said J.J. Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago. ‘Next week is going to be a Capitol Hill-driven market.'”

“With talks between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner at an apparent standstill, it was increasingly likely that Washington will not come up with a deal before Jan. 1,” Moon reports. “This coming Friday will mark the last so-called ‘quadruple witching’ day of the year, when contracts for stock options, single stock futures, stock index options and stock index futures all expire. This could make trading more volatile. ‘We could see some heavy selling as there is going to be a lot of re-establishing of positions, reallocation of assets before the year-end,’ Kinahan said.”

Moon reports, “Some market participants said tax-related selling may be behind the weaker trend in the stock price of market leader Apple. Apple’s stock has lost a quarter of its value since it hit a lifetime high of $705.07 on Sept. 21.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. First, there are no tax cuts under consideration. You are talking about the possibility of current tax rates remaining. That is not a cut. Second, all of this is about what happens to the “Bush Tax Cuts” and we all know he only lowered taxes on the rich, right? That would be the 1%. Wrong. Bush lowered taxes on everyone who paid them. Obama is insisting on tax increases for everyone making more than $200,000, and also on everyone who receives capital gains or who has dividend income. Oh, and by the way, the 1% currently pay about 40% of total federal income taxes. The bottom 50% pay almost nothing in federal taxes.

  1. $600 Billion in cuts and tax increases. What a joke.

    2012’s budget DEFICIT is >$1.3 TRILLION. The “fiscal cliff” is a media made up term that has no meaning.

    If there is a “cliff” to go over, it is the failure of a lot (tons) of political careers. Good riddance.

    The last budget passed during Bush’s Administration called for a deficit of $250 BILLION. Now we’re being told that unless we allow a deficit of $1.3 TRILLION, the US economy will fall into a recession.

    Lets face it, without massive federal spending (and subsequent budget deficits) we do not have a private sector. That’s what LBJ’s War on Poverty has gained us.
    Eisenhower’s last budget (1960) included a $300 MILLION SURPLUS
    LBJ’s last budget (1968) included a $25 BILLION DEFICIT.

    Now before someone points out the obvious, true there was no Medi-care under Eisenhower. Also true, Medi-care today is the second highest federal expenditure, ahead of Defense spending and behind Social Security, at $870 BILLION. Social Security tax is 15.3%. Medi-care tax is <4%. Who started this boondoggle? Which Party controlled Congress both the House and Senate from 1964 through 1980?

    1. You know, the size of the deficit doesn’t mean a hill of beans to anyone outside the Beltway. It’s clearly an attack strategy and nothing more. If the government needs more money, the US Mint prints it. This whole strategy of cutting federal spending by slashing public sector jobs and “privatizing” Federal and State programs is a total smokescreen meant to scare Jane and John doe into thinking that we have to slash the deficit, which will bring absolutely nothing but chaos when we have fewer firemen, policemen, forest rangers (who have a huge responsibility in public forests, not the least is preventing or containing massive forest fires), public schools and medical facilities. Private schools are largely a joke in that they are free to teach indoctrinate youngsters with so-called “creationism” and that there’s some white-haired bearded old man in the sky who guides everyone’s lives (not to mention Huckabee’s comment about how lack of prayer in public schools pissed off his god and that caused Lanza to murder 26 people).


      I just want everyone to start looking for the good in everyone else and to help pick up those who have fallen. To cherish life before it is born and then cast aside any feelings for those after they have been born is just hypocrisy pure and simple. If you believe that life is a cherished gift, then have a heart and help anyone who needs it, regardless of their faith, color, intelligence, heritage or whatever.

      I’m just so pissed off at all those holier than thou types whose only goal in life is to attain power and hoard more money that they can possibly spend in five lifetimes.


      1. Sorry, you are wrong. I will not address your Atheist screed but your woeful lack of knowledge on Economics. I have a degree in economics so let me school you. The US Mint does not just print more money when the US Government wants/needs it. It just isn’t that easy.

        Take out a dollar bill and look at the words at top of the face above the portrait, over the words “United States of America”. Your will find it reads “Federal Reserve Note.” A “note” is a short term debt of security, a loan. “Federal Reserve” is a privately owned system of banks. In Lewis v. United States,[3] the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that: “The Reserve Banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of the FTCA [the Federal Tort Claims Act], but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations.” In other words, the money you claim is just printed by the government is actually BORROWED into existence from private banks. The government does print it. . . At a few micro cents per bill, sells the currency to the Federal Reserve banks at cost, and then borrows it back at a few cents discount off of face value, the lets the Federal Reserve Bank distribute it into circulation. This borrowed discounted money has to be paid back at face value to the banks it was borrowed from.

        The US government’s mint system DOES create and distribute coins. . .

      2. Further, you seem to think that people with money have it “hoarded” in money vaults like Scrooge McDuck so they can go swimming in it. Nothing can be further from the truth. It just demonstrates your abysmal ignorance. People with high earnings invest it in plants and equipment that provide you and people like you your job, or in the construction of your house or apartment, or loan you the money to buy your house, or to build the power plant the provides your electricity (who do you think provides those billions?), or make the contributions that fund the non-profit hospitals you rely on to care for you when you get ill or injured, or fund museum your kids go to, or pay for colleges and universities with endowments to those same schools. The top 50% of earners also ALREADY pay 95% of the taxes collected (their fair share?), while those earning in the lower 50% pay essentially nothing in income taxes. Those in the top 20% pay 90%. It is also a fact that corporations and businesses have to pass on the taxes the are forced to pay to their customers: YOU. Businesses should be taxed only when they distribute the PROFITS to their owners, because only individuals pay taxes. . . And it will be either YOU or it will be the business’s owners. Which would you rather it be? Me? I’d prefer we tax the owners when they take the profits. Not the working men and women when they buy what they need to live.

        Are you aware under Obamacare the Democrat Senate just voted to Tax durable medical devices such as wheelchairs, pacemakers, stents, crutches, splints, braces, etc., that have never been taxed before? How compassionate of them. Republicans objected.

        1. It’s a shame that you don’t seem to remember the days before huge corporations and billionaires controlled the government and public institutions. Before the rampant deregulation and privatization of the ’80’s and ’90’s, the tax dollars that corporations paid helped to fund infrastructure improvements, public schools, hospitals, and all manner of programs that actually helped to improve the living standards in this country. Now, you’d have us believe that the corporations are privately funding these things, but it’s clear that they are not. And they are also not building factories to provide us lowly workers with jobs and income. Billion dollar cash hoards in tax-free, off-shore zones help nobody except the corporations. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that they don’t like to share, and, of course, have paid good money to create the laws and regulations to support that. Let’s hope that we can return to the tax level that had been supposedly only temporarily lowered a few years ago and get some funds back into the business of rebuilding an increasingly crumbling country.

        2. It’s certainly nice to know that these corporations are doing so much with their money to help we middle class people. I just don’t see any of that. All I see are construction workers idled by lack of funds to start new projects.

          I actually don’t care who has a degree in econ and I’m not impressed with your comments about my ignorance. All I can see are very wealthy people who seem to need four or five large houses scattered across the US, more cars that they can possible need, several yachts anchored in different harbors, the list goes on. Yet my friends in the building trades, who are very hard-working individuals. are trying to make ends meet every month. They are good family men with great wives and children and their work and home vehicles are 15+ years old and in need of repair. During the mind-west winters, they do what part-time work they can. They are not what some people refer to as “takers” because they’re too proud to go on the dole.

          Let’s see some of those billions you mention above get plowed into real projects and real wages for real people.

          Finally, I was brought up after the end of WWII and I saw firsthand how prosperous the economy got, how many people, including my parents, were able to purchase modest homes and have decent food on the table. Vacations? Not for many years and then it was two or three days in the mountains. I grew up with people who were beginning to make their own fortunes and they worked their butts off, and they paid good wages and benefitted the community.

          Over to you…

  2. Sword: 1!

    Bream: Fine, let’s reverse the “temporary” tax cuts and return back to Clinton-era tax rates. But, then let’s also return to similar federal spending rates! Not so long ago if the federal government projected a budget deficit of 250-300 billion per year the public would’ve been up in arms. Now, with annual government spending deficits of 1.1-1.3 TRILLION — no one makes a big deal about that? Reinstating the previous tax rates will only account for 8-10% of the government’s ANNUAL spending. C’mon, the national debt was around 6 trillion when GWBush took over, grew to 10 trillion over 8 years under his watch, and now is 16 trillion after just four years under President Obama! I don’t care which party is in power — it’s OUR money! And to those of you who advocate that the Feds under Republican leadership would pull out all of our society’s safety nets — that’s ridiculous!

  3. When I am done with your country, you will know what it is like to be the son of an alcoholic father that beats his 5 wifes regularly and abandons you and to be the son of a white mother that you hate, because she made you half white, a race that you hate.

    You will know what it is like to get everything handed to you because you are half black and never to have to work for what you get and yet hate all the more those that have given all that for free.

    You will know!

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