Banks cautious on fiscal cliff


Hopefully, we will not move any closer to the precipice of the fiscal cliff. Banks are carefully monitoring the process, and remain generally hopeful that a deal to avert the cliff will materialize, though they continue to pressure politicians to get a deal in place.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said at investor conference that, "That uncertainty continues to hold back the recovery."

Many CEOs would agree. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein urged the corporate community and the Obama administration to compromise. Some Wall Street firms are taking a harder line. Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, told Reuters that, "We simply won't be investing in the United States. We will be investing elsewhere where we have more certainty of the outcome."  

At JPMorgan Chase, CEO Jamie Dimon has taken a more optimistic tone. On CNBC, he said that, "The foundation of business is actually pretty strong. Businesses are in great shape with lots of cash. Housing looks like it's turning. Consumers are still spending, so business itself looks pretty good."

Of course, the fiscal cliff possibility has the potential to really change the economic dynamic. It's small wonder then that at JPMorgan Chase, executives have set up a war room to deal with any fallout as we approach the cliff. I continue to believe that despite all the political drama, the chances are high that we'll get a deal to make immediate cliff concerns go away. Washington isn't going to let us go over. But the danger that a long-term deal fails to materialize is still pressing. There's a lot less optimism on that score.  

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