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Are we already falling off the fiscal cliff?

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Can the U.S. economy be hurt even without going over the much-dreaded “Fiscal Cliff”? According to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, which takes the pulse of businesses’ views on the economy, corporate America is taking a cautious approach in anticipation of $600 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to go into effect in January if Congress fails to act. This cautiousness is slowing the economy in advance of something that may not happen. However, if the “Fiscal Cliff” does occur, the economy could be pushed into a severe recession.