The U.S. Presidential election is just weeks away, along with potential spending cuts and expiring tax breaks. Neither candidate really has a clear cut vision on avoiding or mitigating the impending fiscal cliff, so investors should get ready with protective stocks and exchange traded funds.
“At the close of this year, payroll taxes on all employees would rise 2%, alternative minimum taxes will reach deeper into the middle class pocket and Bush era income tax rates would expire. Capital gains taxes would rise; dividend taxes would climb. There are even additional taxes to pay for the new health care law. And let’s not forget, there are deep cuts slated for government programs (primarily defense) — cuts that have ripple effects across the public and private sector,” Gary Gordon for ETF Expert wrote.
For investors that are not going to wait around for the outcome of this election and expiring tax cuts, there are exchange traded funds that can set up a protective barrier and help weather the so-called fiscal cliff.
Assets that have historically high yield spreads comparable with Treasury bonds will help income focused investors maintain some form of revenue stream. Gordon suggests the First Trust Dividend Leaders (NYSEArca: FDL) and the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index (NYSEArca: DVY). [Dividend and International ETFs for Fiscal Cliff Safety]
Safety investments that can earn returns after inflation are another area that investors should seek. ETFs such as the PowerShares Emerging Market Sovereign Debt (NYSEArca: PCY) and the Vanguard Intermediate Corporate Debt (NYSEArca: VCIT) take advantage of corporations that have repaired, restored and enhanced their balance sheets. Those facts have made winners out of these income producers, especially when Treasuries yield negative real returns, reports Gordon. [Risk Management for Corporate Bond Safety]
Lastly, there are overseas countries that focus on neighbors of China that are doing well economically despite the “hard landing” that the mainland is rumored to take. As the overall market is hopeful that China’s crash landing may be averted, various countries are posting growth and giving investors good diversification benefits. The iShares MSCI New Zealand Index (NYSEArca: ENZL) and the iShares MSCI Australia Index (NYSEArca: EWA) are also providing loyal investors with a decent income stream. The past quarter has realized 17.5% and 9.7%, respectively. [ETF Spotlight: Single-Country Funds]
Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.