After one of the most contentious campaigns in recent memory, Democratic President Barack Obama beat out Republican challenger Mitt Romney to secure a second term as president. Polls leading up to the election showed the two locked in essentially a dead heat.
The sense of business as usual cascaded to Congress as well, where Republicans held control of the House of Representatives and Democrats held the Senate. As a result of the remaining sharp divisions in the White House and on Capitol Hill, market participants almost immediately shifted their focus to the looming fiscal cliff. The fiscal cliff refers to the painful spending cuts and tax hikes that will automatically go into effect in January should politicians in Washington, D.C. not get the nation’s fiscal situation under control.
“Given the opposing views on the speed and degree of fiscal consolidation necessary, the status quo outcome implies difficult negotiations ahead on the fiscal cliff … and the debt ceiling,” analysts at Nomura wrote in a note to clients.
Echoing that view, Moody’s Investor Service said delays on further budget action are “increasingly likely,” according to a report by Dow Jones Newswires. The ratings company also reiterated its warning that it may cut the American’s credit rating down from its current top-notch status. So far, Standard & Poor’s is the only major rater to have the U.S. rated at less than a triple-A.