Fallout from debt ceiling deadline overblown, strategist says

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There is a lot of concern among investors about the looming Aug. 2 debt ceiling crisis, with investors wondering whether they should take steps to protect their assets in the event of a major crisis such as soaring interest rates and a decline in bond prices or even a stock market crash.

But at least one expert, Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist at D.A. Davidson, a Montana-based brokerage and money management firm, says to relax and just sit out the crisis.

“We think there is a one-in-a-100 chance that the government will not raise the debt ceiling,” Dickson says.

Okay, that’s just a 1% chance, but what if that 1% chance comes to pass?

Not to worry, Dickson says.

“We've looked at the various events like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the oil price spike and the European debt crisis, and we think that this crisis, at worst, would lead to some short disruptions, and perhaps a 2% to 3% drop in the stock market,” he says.

In fact, Dickson says if that does happen, it should be seen not as a disaster by investors but as a buying opportunity.

“We're seeing no signs of a topping out of the market,” he said. “What we're in is the middle of a recovery and the middle of a market rise.” He added that the financial markets are currently undervalued.

Dickson points to good earnings reports coming in across the board, and to signs, like improved business investment and an improving housing market, that the domestic economy may be re-accelerating.

As for the U.S. government and its debt, he said, the federal government currently generates more than 10 times more in revenue than the interest payments on outstanding debt, an amount he argues is quite manageable. Furthermore, he said that those interest payments would be the last payments suspended by the government even if the debt ceiling were not raised and some spending had to be temporarily curtailed.

The bottom line: Dickson says investors should stop worrying about what is a politically-driven drama in Washington, and should certainly not do anything rash — like moving a portfolio into cash or gold — to guard against an Aug. 2 event that probably won't happen, and that won’t matter much even if it does.

Lindorff is a writer for Money Management Executive, a SourceMedia publication.

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Financial planning