Investors cope with fear of falling off the ‘fiscal cliff’

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“We are telling our clients to prepare, but wait,” said Mr. Edelman, who hosts “The Ric Edelman Show,” a syndicated weekly talk show about personal finance. “Wait to see what Congress does. You should not sell now because it could prove to be unnecessary.”

He is helping his clients prepare, however, in case they need to sell. He is paying close attention to Washington’s leaders, looking for indications on which direction the federal government is headed. He also is analyzing his clients’ assets to determine how much more they would pay if the fiscal cliff’s tax increases go through.

“In the meantime, let’s prepare, so if we do need to sell, we’ll be ready to do so before the end of the year,” Mr. Edelman said. “For many investors, they need to take no action.”

But while they are telling clients not to panic, financial advisers are urging political leaders to find a solution to the country’s ongoing budget problems.

The best scenario for investors, they say, is one in which lawmakers come to a deal that extends the capital gains tax cuts currently in place. The worst case scenario? Increasing taxes to the proposed rates called for under the bipartisan deal that will trigger the cliff.

“As an adviser, we don’t really care which way Congress goes. We just want a decision,” Mr. Edelman said. “We love good news, we can handle bad news, what is very difficult to manage is uncertainty. Congress must end the uncertainty.

He added that the uncertainty is frustrating his clients. “They’re annoyed because they realize that today’s uncertainties are politically driven and could be solved very quickly with proper leadership in Washington.”

Mr. Edelman said it is also important that lawmakers ease the pace of the spending cuts so the economy has a chance to prepare itself. “Turn the cliff into a downhill,” he joked.

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