Fiscal Cliff Concerns Subdue Markets

Following a climb of up to 81 points, driven by the Fed’s announcement that it would keep interest low and extend its $85 billion a month bond-buying plan, the Dow Jones industrial average closed Wednesday at 13,245.45, being down 2.99 points. While investors responded well to the Fed’s announcement, this was soon dampened by the reality that high-level “fiscal cliff” budget talks were continuing to take place in Washington, the outcome of which could impact significantly on Wall Street and the economy in general, should Congress and President Barack Obama be unable to reach a deal to prevent a series of spending cuts and sharp tax increases taking place in January. The Standard & Poor’s 500 finished 0.64 points higher to close at 1,428.48, while the Nasdaq composite lost 8.49 points to close at 3,013.81.

Wednesday saw the White House reaching out to business as it reportedly hosted a meeting with Wall Street executives on matters related to the fiscal cliff. Hosted by Valerie Jarrett (Senior White House adviser), Jeffrey Zients (acting director of the Office of Management and Budget), and Jason Furman (deputy director of the National Economic Council). Business people in attendance included Jes Staley (chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase’s Corporate and Investment Bank), Stefan M. Selig (executive vice chairman of Global Corporate and Investment Banking at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch), and Jonathan D. Gray (global head of real estate at Blackstone Group Management).

Other news related to Wall Street is the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to a seat on the Senate Banking Committee. An outspoken supporter of Occupy Wall Street, Warren has long advocated for stricter oversight and accountability on Wall Street. She provoked the ire of Wall Street by urging state attorneys general to impose substantial settlement from financial institutions for improper foreclosure procedures. Warren was appointed to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when it was formed, and when she decided to run for Senate, Wall Street backed her opponent, Scott Brown, reportedly because of her stance of tighter oversight on Wall Street. Not only did she win that battle, she now sits on the committee which overseas regulation, putting her in a better position to influence policy. Just how influential she will be remains to be seen.