Sunday 31 July 2011

Washington Is Annoyed at Wall Street's Failure to Panic

It is more than a little strange - this lack of a reaction from the markets.  Here in New Zealand the whole thing has been portrayed as nothing more than a political crisis in Washington - otherwise business is 'normal' it would appear.

John Carney,

I just got off the phone with a source on Capitol Hill who has spent the past few days trying to convince Republicans to vote for a debt ceiling hike.

He told me that the biggest obstacle he faces has been "market complacency."

"Frankly, a bit of panic would be very helpful right now," he said.

As he explained it, lots of people in Washington, D.C. expected that this would be a week marked by panic in the markets. Stocks would tank. Bonds would get clobbered. The dollar would do something dramatic. And all of this would help convince reluctant lawmakers that they had to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling.

"We were following the script from 2008. When the market collapsed after TARP failed, that spooked everyone enough to get them to fall in line. We thought the same thing would happen this week," he said.

Instead, the market has just been on a quiet, non-panicked slide.

Stocks have sold off by a couple of percentage points, but nothing that indicates a real fear trade in the works.

Everyone in D.C. has a theory about this. Some believe the market is sending a message that a deal will get done. Others think the market doesn't understand politics.

Think about this. We just got stunningly bad news about economic growth. The first-quarter number was revised into a nullity. But the markets are basically flat today.

"Every day we wake up and think that stocks will send a shock up to Capitol Hill. And every day nothing happens," the source said.

He's still holding out hope for a panic sell-off at the end of the day.

"It's the only thing that's going to bring everyone together on this," he said.

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