I think investors will be reluctant to do much selling of stocks and bonds before those dates, especially since Asian financial markets are likely to be strong over the next two weeks on hopes for Japanese stimulus and on evidence that China's economic growth is accelerating.

After that, though, global financial markets will be free to focus on the news out of Washington. I expect that news to be negative -- I don't think we'll see a deal until the very last minute, again. And I expect that Wall Street gurus and the companies that rate government debt -- Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings -- will keep reminding financial markets about the possibility of another downgrade to the current AA U.S. credit rating. Granted, the last downgrade didn't produce any increase in U.S. interest rates or a weaker dollar, but that was largely because the eurozone debt crisis made the United States an attractive safe haven. The United States doesn't have that going for it this time, since the eurozone has temporarily "solved" its crisis.

I don't know if this publicized uncertainty will be enough to end the recent rally and produce a significant sell-off in financial assets.

I do know that the next crisis will be enough to increase the odds of a sell-off, especially since stocks have rallied to five-year highs. As I've written recently (See "7 steps to investing success in 2013.") if you want to profit from the recent rally, you need to do it sooner rather than later. Before the end of the month, I think the odds will have shifted, reducing potential reward and increasing potential risk.

Raise cash

Given the nature of the debt-ceiling crisis, in which fears of a credit downgrade for the United States would hit both U.S. stocks and bonds (and, if it got scary enough, extend downward pressure to Asian and other emerging markets), cash strikes me as the best asset in the crisis. (Gold would normally be a safe haven, too, but gold has been in its own downtrend recently, and, for the moment, I prefer cash.)

How much do you want to move to cash? I'd use the rules I laid out in a recent post on Jubak Picks to increase cash holdings. As of this moment, I see any crisis-related downturn as a buying opportunity that I'd like to have enough cash -- say 20%? -- to exploit rather than as a reason to sell everything. Watch our politicians -- and global market reaction to our politicians -- to see if that changes.

You certainly can't say this is a dull market.

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Jim Jubak's column has run on MSN Money since 1997. He is the author of the book "The Jubak Picks," based on his market-beating Jubak's Picks portfolio; the writer of the Jubak's Picks blog; and the senior markets editor at MoneyShow.com. Get a free 60-day trial subscription to JAM, his premium investment letter, by using this code: MSN60 when you register at the Jubak Asset Management website.

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