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Friday Charts: From One Uncertainty to the Next

Words mean little on Fridays in the Wall Street Daily Nation. Instead, we let pretty pictures do the talking for us.

Each week, I select a handful of graphics to put important economic and investing news into perspective for you.

So I’ll (mostly) shut up now…

Hey, Washington – Get to Work!

Funk band, Kool and the Gang needs to stay put until Inauguration Day. Because there’s no time for celebrating in our nation’s capitol just yet.

Why? Because our elected (mis)representatives need to get to work on eliminating the next big uncertainty facing the nation – the “Fiscal Cliff.”

According to the fine analysts at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), the looming spending cuts and tax rate expirations could slash GDP growth by a full four percentage points. Yikes!

Like I said, there’s no time for celebrating – or brinkmanship – in Washington. We’re on a crash course with a recession. And kicking the can down the road for old time’s sake is not going to postpone it, either.

Try it… and the economy dies.

So get to work on the one thing you’ve avoided for four years, Washington – a bi-partisan comprise.

Step Away From the Cliff, Or Else…

Investors aren’t the only ones increasingly troubled by Washington’s inaction. Businesses are, too.

Case in point: Business investment, one of the major drivers of economic growth, just ground to a halt.

The Census Bureau reported that shipments of U.S.-made capital investment goods declined for the first time since late 2009 – at a 4.9% annual rate.

As MarketWatch reports, “Economists are in broad agreement that businesses aren’t investing in the equipment they would need to increase productivity or to expand their output, but they can’t agree on the causes of the downshift.”

Really? Are economists that thickheaded?

Anybody home? Huh? Think, McFly. Think!

This is a case where the simplest explanation applies: The problem is uncertainty surrounding the Fiscal Cliff.

Businesses admitted as much in various surveys. Take Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) proprietary Business Conditions Index, for instance.

“In October, 51% (versus 49% last month) of analysts responded that companies have downgraded business conditions as a result of cliff-related issues,” says Morgan Stanley economist, Dane Vrabac.

Forget Voting, Stalk Your Congressman

I know, I’m typically the optimist. But that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. It’s time for Washington to make a deal – stat! The economy’s riding on it.

Plus, it’ll be good practice for the next issues awaiting their immediate resolution. Like the debt ceiling and the federal budget.

Another debt downgrade is all that hangs in the balance. No biggie. Our elected representatives got this. Right, guys?

Yeah, I’m not so confident, either.

If you did your part by getting out the vote, keep it up by stalking your local congressman via phone, email, text and smoke signals. They need to get the message quickly – and often.

That’s it for today. Before you sign off, though, do us a favor. Let us know what you think about today’s column – or any of our recent work at Wall Street Daily – by sending an email to feedback@wallstreetdaily.com, leaving a comment on our website, or catching us on Facebook or Google+. Thanks – and try to enjoy the weekend!

Ahead of the tape,

Louis Basenese