If you are like me, you are tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff. METARites have known about it for many months. The general public has only started hearing about it in the last month or so. I suspect that the average person on the street would have a hard time explaining what the issues are and possible solutions to them.Hey guys we are in on this continent as well!!! Here is a primer for them (with a slightly Canuck slant to it). Any <no longer into this cliff thingy> mouse http://news.sympatico.cbc.ca/world/canadas_stake_in_the_us_f...WORLD NEWS Canada's stake in the U.S. 'fiscal cliff'The Canadian economy will take a big hit if the White House and the U.S. Congress can't agree on a compromise to avoid dramatic tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect in January.As metaphors go, "fiscal cliff" must surely rank as one of the most striking ever coined. It implies something scary, irreversible, even fatal.U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke - normally one to confine his vernacular to dry "fedspeak" - must have known that when he first used the term in Congressional testimony earlier this year.Bernanke wanted American politicians and their constituents to feel his alarm over this "cliff" and the economic danger it posed. To put it bluntly, he wanted them to get it.Bernanke may have been aiming his remarks at a U.S. audience. But the whole world was listening... and with good reason. The general consensus seems to be that if the Americans don't figure out a way of avoiding the cliff, the potential damage caused by that failure on the Canadian and the global economy could be huge.What exactly is this 'fiscal cliff' The fiscal cliff refers to the more than $600 billion US worth of spending cuts and tax hikes that are due to automatically take effect as of Jan. 1, 2013 if nothing is done to change the situation. Most of this $600 billion - about $500 billion - comes in the form of tax hikes that will hit the vast majority of Americans. The spending cuts amount to about $110 billion - half in defence.It's important to point out that the use of the word "cliff," however effective, is a bit of a misnomer here. It's not as if the full impact of those spending cuts and tax hikes takes place on Jan. 1. They're spread out over the whole year. So all is not lost if an agreement takes a few months rather than a few weeks. Still, the metaphor's power persists.
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