By and large, I have told readers that it's important to avoid paying too much attention to the headlines and instead employ a long-term approach when looking at investments and the financial markets. Our collective will in executing that has been shaken lately by dire news reports ticking down the hours and minutes to when the United States may potentially miss its first debt payment and in effect, will be considered in default on its financial obligations to its creditors.
While this news is indeed scary, it's not something that should shake your confidence too much for two reasons. First, if the market was taking such a prospect as seriously as the media makes it out to be, then the major market indices would have shed much more of their value in the weeks leading up to the August 2nd deadline. I look at it this way: based on the efficient market theory, everything that can be known about an investment or the market in general is already priced into it because of the speed and efficiency of information flow. Even the bond market, while under plenty of pressure given the uncertainty, has not seen the types of wholesale declines that would indicate a default was imminent.
Secondly, we must not kid ourselves. Lawmakers in Washington know how much is on the line and how disastrous a default would be, and while there has been much political grandstanding and theatre throughout the process, at the end of the day, a deal will be cut, especially if it means preserving re-election chances for many of the incumbents. Unfortunately, this is how Washington works and the media likes to capitalize on the uncertainty. Don't fall victim to the circumstances which don't seem that dire after all.