The macro view: President Obama won the election and the popular vote, but Mr. Market sent a message that the race it cares about -- the one to avert the fiscal cliff -- is running out of road. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the broader S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) both fell 2.4%; for the latter index, it was only the third time this year it suffered a greater than 2% decline.
On Monday, I highlighted in this column a Barron's report that savvy investors had made large purchases of November calls on the VIX (VOLATILITYINDICES:^VIX) at strike prices of $20 and $22. I concluded: "[T]omorrow's election will not eliminate policy uncertainty -- the fiscal cliff associated with automatic tax increases and spending cuts is looming large. For professional investors, betting on an increase in volatility looks like a decent bet." Those investors were amply rewarded on their speculation today, as the $20 calls doubled in value, while the $22 calls gained 90%. The underlying VIX rose 8.5% to 19.08, its highest close since July 25.
The micro view: I remarked on this earlier today: The Election Day storm that tore through banking-sector shares today is now offering investors an attractive entry point on some of country's most prominent financial institutions, including Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM). B of A shares were down more than 7% on the day! Make no mistake about it: While bubble-era leverage and profitability are a part of history, these franchises are now much safer and remain solidly profitable. In terms of risk (and potential upside), the three rank as follows: B of A (riskiest), JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo (least risky). If you want a comprehensive assessment of these businesses and the prospects for the shares, as well as a full year of coverage:
Alex Dumortier, CFA, has no positions in the stocks mentioned above; you can follow him on Twitter, @longrunreturns. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.