us budget deficit
If not, here are millions of reasons to be concerned.
According to a report released today (Friday) from the National Association of Manufacturers, "The "fiscal cliff' is still two months off, but the scheduled blast of tax hikes and spending cuts is already reverberating through the U.S. economy, hampering growth and, according to a new study, wiping out nearly 1 million jobs this year alone."
The report, titled "Fiscal Shock: America's Economic Crisis," details how the fiscal cliff could destroy some 6 million jobs through 2014, and send unemployment skyrocketing to nearly 12%.
"The worst could be ahead," the report said. "If the fiscal contraction happens, the economy will almost certainly experience a recession in 2013 and significantly slower growth through 2014."
While the failure of Congress to act to prevent or mitigate the fiscal cliff - the combination of tax increases and federal spending cuts due to hit on Jan. 2, 2013 - would slam the economy hard, Schiff says it would be preferable to the crash he foresees.
"It's not because we go over this phony fiscal cliff, it's probably because we don't go over that one because the government cancels the spending cuts, cancels the tax hikes, and instead we end up going over the real fiscal cliff further down the road," Schiff told Breakout recently.
Schiff, the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, said the real threat to the U.S. economy is "where interest rates spike and we can no longer afford to pay the interest on the enormous amount of debt we have."
He also blamed the Federal Reserve's zero interest rate policy for making government borrowing too easy.
The national debt, fueled by annual budget deficits of more than $1trillion, crossed the $16 trillion threshold at the end of August. At current spending rates it will hit $17 trillion next June.
"We can't keep interest rates artificially low to stimulate the economy because it's the low interest rates that are the source of the problem," Schiff said.
That about a third of the U.S. debt is held by foreign countries such as China and Japan is a ticking time bomb.
"In fact, the real fiscal cliff comes when our creditors want their money back, and we don't have it," he said.
And while the nation waits for a resolution, the costs of doing nothing are rising, with U.S. taxpayers' money at risk.
Lawmakers have taken a "hurry-up-and-wait" stance, putting off until after the November presidential election any decision-making about the most crucial matter currently facing Congress.
At issue is whether to extend some or all of the Bush-era tax cuts and how to handle the nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts slated to kick-in starting Jan. 1.
If the expiration of tax cuts comes to fruition, the result will be the biggest tax increase ever levied on Americans (Taxmageddon 2013).
If the spending cuts start rolling out, thousands of jobs will be lost, our country's security will be put at risk, businesses will sorely suffer and programs that rely on government contracts will disappear.
With just a few weeks before ballots are cast for our next president, the looming fiscal cliff has become a heated topic on campaign trails. Falling off the cliff would undoubtedly thrust the struggling U.S. economy into a recession in 2013, a consequence neither contender wants to tackle.
So how do they plan to avoid the fiscal cliff? Let's take a look.
That's because global money managers view the looming fiscal cliff as the biggest current threat to investors' profits.
A new Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Managers survey this month revealed anxieties about the approaching and almost imminent fiscal cliff, which the country will go over Jan. 1 if Congress doesn't act, now for the first time in 18 months trump fears about the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
At the forefront are worries over trillions of dollars of spending cuts set to kick in at the start of next year that will threaten our national security, millions of jobs, and government-funded programs. Those colossal cuts will coincide with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts which will amount to the biggest ever tax increase on American taxpayers.
The double whammy now has 35% of fund managers citing the fiscal cliff as the biggest danger to investments.
On the flip side, angst over the European debt mess as the top investment worry has waned to 33% from 48%. The drop follows the recent announcement of further support from the European Central Bank and its launch of outright monetary transactions (OMT), or bond buying, to reduce the cost of buying for bordering Eurozone countries.
The figures are from a Sept. 7-13 BofA survey of 253 managers who invest some $681 billion for clients.
Uncertainty surrounding Election 2012 has made the fiscal cliff effect a bigger threat.
"The upcoming election is putting these fears into sharper focus," noted Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at Bofa Merrill Lynch Global Research.
But instead of living in fear, you can feel safer by following the same preparation as some of the biggest global money managers.