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It seems less than nice to start 2013 with such a header as ugly. What is ugly? Politics, that’s what.  

I hope that our president and houses of congress conspire to get us out of the fiscal soup. My early bet was the powerful in our nation’s capitol had worked out a deal in early December and were waiting until the 11th hour (or 55 minutes later) to announce it, so both sides could say, “Whew, that was hard and we worked our socks off to please our constituents and to avoid another recession.”   

My thinking was that if the politicos announced a compromise early, those on the left and right would exclaim, “You didn’t fight hard enough — you need to fight until the bitter end, until there’s no choice remaining.” I might have been wrong, but I won’t know until late today (New Year’s eve) or tomorrow, the first day of the new year.

Could the pols be stupid enough not to compromise? Yes. The idea that we have a shot at moving the needle on the estate tax exemption to a permanent $5 million threshold is wonderful; the idea that it will move instead to $1 million is repugnant. And that’s just one slim example of the legislative work begging to be fixed — taxes on dividends and capital gains may turn downright repressive. Both right and left seemed to have forgotten that politics is the art of compromise. So, my wish is that somehow the politicians do compromise, and the investment world is energized, shoppers head for the stores in droves and 2013 becomes a great year. If that is the case, change the header to Beautiful, okay?

Whatever happens, know that you will be needed, more than ever, on the investment and financial firing lines to steer your customers and families through the rocky shoals. My best wishes for a Happy New Year and for continued great leadership skills in the year ahead.

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