Last ditch efforts to avoid “fiscal cliff”

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Democratic and Republican leaders pushed the United States to the edge of the “fiscal cliff” on Sunday as they struggled to reach a last-minute deal that could protect the world largest economy from a politically induced recession. Senate lawmakers are still hoping to clear the way for swift action thereby avoiding sweeping tax increases and spending cuts due to tick in on Tuesday, January 1st. The two sides are, however, still at loggerheads in talks. Senate was adjourned yesterday and meet again today for a last ditch effort to reach a compromise.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid last night postponed any possible votes; “There are still significant differences between the two sides”, Reid stated. President Obama had originally proposed a USD 250 000 income threshold for increased taxes. The Republicans are in principle against all tax increases, but has voiced a compromise threshold on USD 1 million. The parties are also wide apart on possible budget spending cuts.
As hours ticked away it appeared increasingly unlikely to avoid a USD 600 billion hammer blow to the fragile US economy recovery. Americans could see a bigger bite taken out of their pay checks starting on 1st January as payroll and income tax cuts expire. Two million unemployed Americans could see their jobless benefits run out. The uncertainties have weighed in on global, financial market. Investors are likely to sell off stocks at the beginning of the new year expressing their displeasure with a no deal.
In a rare appearance on Sunday’s NBCs “Meet the Press”, president Barack Obama warned against the immediate negative effects on markets and blamed the Republicans for rejecting significant presented compromises. His accusations were flatly refused by Republican spokesmen.
Due also to Christmas and the New year holidays investors have been sitting on the side lines waiting for Washington to act. US markets were down for a fifth straight session on Friday, and there were small changes in the currency and commodity markets. Euro/USD is trading around 1.3215 up from last week’s low on 1.3175. USD/JPY is stabile on 86 yen to a dollar. Oil prices are high with Brent crude above USD 110 a barrel. No major changes in commodity and precious metal prices. Gold is at USD 1660 an ounce.
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