I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard the term "fiscal cliff" in the past six weeks - my Christmas bills would be paid off in full.
Evidently 25% of the voting population understands the term. In short, the FC refers to expiration of the Bush (W) tax cuts on December 31 in addition to "sequestration" which means radical cuts across the board in government spending.
So...what does that mean to you and me? Well, as a few examples, workers will see an immediate 2 ½% cut in their pay due to the lapsing of the payroll tax cuts. Annually, many middle income families will see their annual income taxes rise by roughly $2500. Many individuals on unemployment will lose their benefits. Many governmental programs that aide the middle class will be slashed: student loan grants, physician payments from Medicare could drop by up to 30%, governmental agencies budgets will be cut by approximately 7%. These are just to name a few.
Most people think the market will take a massive hit.
The biggest issue is that our economy—which is starting to strengthen – will most likely slip back in to recession. When businesses see uncertainty of this size they don’t hire, they don’t make capital purchases or expand. Individuals cut back on discretionary spending. Markets falter.
It ain't over 'til it's over; our friends in Washington have three days to prevent this fiasco. My guess? They will pass something in the 11th hour. Stay tuned.
Marylove Moy is Program Director of 1st Mariner Financial Services. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of 1st Mariner Bank.