Election 2012

For Investors, More Fed Easing, Cliff ‘Heart Attack’


An election that was supposed to be about change actually could end up being an intensified dose of more of the same for investors.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

In the aftermath of bid Tuesday, market experts prepared for an accelerated push of easy Federal Reserve monetary policy.

That likely will clash against even more uncertainty in Washington as en election that produced little more than the status quo failed to resolve the burgeoning fiscal issues that threaten the U.S. economy. (Read More: Next Up for Markets? The Fiscal Cliff)

While investors know what they have and may draw some relief, the morning-after plunged as traders prepared for a second four years under the Democratic incumbent. The Dow fell more than 300 points, the most in more than a year, as traders worried over what was next in Washington's ongoing political war.

"The question is, does either side have the upper hand?" said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Annuities in Newark, N.J. "Ultimately, the market has the upper hand."

The stock market has climbed about 76 percent over the past four years. Commodities have soared even higher, with gold and silver up more than 100 percent, and even bonds have maintained their value as a safe-haven trade for investors too afraid of market volatility.

Yet the investing climate has proven easily shakable, rising and falling on the fortunes of both the domestic variables as well as the tenuous situation in Europe, where a debt crisis has plunged the continent into recession.

Fresh comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi about slowness rattled traders Wednesday morning, reversing what had been a positive outlook for the market open.

Lack of demand from Europe was cited by U.S. companies during this earnings season, in which 63 percent topped analyst profit expectations but just 39 percent beat sales estimates.

"You're seeing the slowdown in European demand transmitted to U.S. corporate balance sheets," Krosby said. "You can't afford to have the U.S. go into recession, because the market will sell off at least 20 percent. You'll get the first hint of recession from demand as manifested in top-line growth."

Much of the trading over the past four years has been based off Fed policy, which in turn is driven by those economic risk factors that Krosby discussed.

The central bank during Obama's presidency has expanded its balance sheet from about $800 billion to approaching $3 trillion, with even more growth to come as the Fed cranks up the third round of its quantitative easing debt purchasing program.

"With Obama getting re-elected it's sort of the status quo and the QE carries on," said Lee Ferridge, head of macro strategy for North America at State Street Global Markets. "The result is positive for risk generally — negative for the dollar but positive for risk. We know the extremely loose monetary policy we've been used to so far will continue."

The election aftermath immediately saw speculation that the Fed even may amp up its QE efforts.

"The market reaction might be quite positive because the Europeans are clearly voting with relief that this seems the U.S. isn't going to go down the austerity route," Chuck Gabriel at Capital Alpha Partners told CNBC. "And it looks as though QE4 will be fine as early as the end of the fourth quarter."

For most market pros, there was little do except dance to the music the band will be playing.

"It might be good for Mr. Obama's friends, but it's not good for the world," widely followed investor Jim Rogers complained on CNBC in reference to the cheap-money policies of the past four years.