The greatest long-term risk to the U.S. economy and stock market is not Europe, a housing retrenchment or oil, but rather, the nation’s flawed political process, legendary trader Mark Fisher told a packed crowd of about 500 wealth advisers and their clients in Chicago last week.
“Just imagine if we had a ‘None of the Above’ box as a third option on the ballot and if that box outnumbered the two other candidates, they could never run again,” said Fisher, eliciting the biggest response of the night from the crowd. “I know this sounds crazy, but it may be a way to finally get the right people to run and break this two-party system controlled by money.”
The market seems to prefer the gridlock that the country most likely will face come 2013, rather than any new bold economic policies that have a slim chance to arise from the two major parties or an upstart third party. According to the latest contracts on event-betting site Intrade, President Barack Obamahas a 62 percent chance of re-election. Leading Republican contender, Mitt Romney, will only garner about 35 percent of the vote. However, the Republican party is the odds on favorite to control both Houses of Congress.
Fisher, whose firm handled more than a fifth of the volume on the NYMEX exchange at one time, was part of an all-star panel brought together by UBS, Virtus Investment Partners and Pimco. The panel also included Jon Najarian, TradeMonster.com co-founder; Karen Finerman, president of hedge fund Metropolitan Capital; Mike Ryan, chief investment strategist for UBS Financial Services and Pimco’s Tony Crescenzi.
Most of the panel was optimistic about the future when peppered with questions about the potential headwinds ahead by moderator Joe Terranova, chief market strategist at Virtus.
Metropolitan’s Finerman discussed why she owned banks like JPMorgan as it is not “impossible” to see a housing recovery in the near future.
But it was Fisher, whose book“Logical Trader: Applying a Method to the Madness” was called a “must-read” by legendary hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones, that threw the biggest curveball out to the crowd.
Whether it was the bickering over the debt ceiling that led to the downgrade of the U.S. sovereign debt rating last year or the blockage of the Keystone energy pipeline from Canada, there were plenty of ways that this administration and Congress got in the way of business progress last year, instead of fostering it. Fisher said to look for more of the same kind of overhang in 2013, such as a fight over the taxes on capital gains and dividends. Unless, some day, the two-party system is broken up by an out-of-the-box idea such as the one he proposed.
Still, the Thursday outing had a much more positive tone to it than in previous years, as the crowd got to hear thoughts on an improving global economy and the exploding entrepreneurial culture that will bring us the hotly-anticipatedFacebook IPOlater this year.
The only comment that may have rivaled Fisher’s political thoughts was one by TradeMonster’s Najarian about the Facebook IPO.
“I will mortgage everything I own to get in on the Facebook IPO, but I will flip it that same day.”
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