Today's Market-Moving Macro Stories

This is a big day for macro events, no doubt about it:

  • The German Constitutional Court has ruled that the European Stability Mechanism, the Eurozone's permanent bailout fund, is legal. A surprise is always possible, of course, but this had probably been priced into the market as a near certainty.
  • The Fed begins its regular two-day policy meeting today. This is more open-ended in terms of outcomes. Will the Fed extend the expected period of low short rates into 2015? Is the bank teeing up another round of quantitative easing (i.e., bond-buying)? Ben Bernanke's Jackson Hole, Wyo., speech was a teaser. Now the market is in "show me" mode.
  • The Dutch go to the polls to elect a new government. The Netherlands is a "core" country in the eurozone, and the latest polls point to a pro-EU coalition emerging as the winner.

Until Bernanke has spoken, we can probably expect the market to remain in a holding pattern. Certainly, the S&P 500 Index (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) and the Dow (INDEX: ^DJI  ) have moved in a tight range this morning.

However, beneath the calm, some investors are positioning themselves for increased volatility. Yesterday, options volume on the VIX index (INDEX: ^VIX  ) -- the so-called "fear index," which tracks market expectations for short-term volatility in the S&P 500 -- hit a single-day record. The previous record was achieved on Aug. 5, 2011 -- the day Standard & Poor's stripped the U.S. of its "AAA" credit rating.

The bottom line: Buy insurance against spikes in volatility or focus on business values and accept short-term volatility as an inevitable hazard on the road to long-term returns.

Speaking of major macro news, check out these stocks that could skyrocket after the 2012 election!

Fool contributor Alex Dumortierholds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio; you can follow him @longrunreturns. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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