Business loses little sleep over fiscal cliff

A news conference at the U.S. Capitol on August 2, 2012 to call on Congress to work together to address the looming "fiscal cliff." Headlines aside, many businesspeople play down the threat of the fiscal cliff. Some worry a political compromise could be worse.

Who’s really afraid of the big, bad fiscal cliff? The looming spending cuts and tax increases sound scary, but Congress wouldn’t do that to us right?

We wanted to find someone losing sleep over it, but instead we got a lot of this: 

“The whole thing is overdone. I don’t expect the Congress to go over the fiscal cliff,” says investment banker Christopher Whalen at Tangent Captial Partners. 

How about a medium-sized business? Is Bob Taylor, treasurer at Pitt Ohio trucking company, scared? 

“No,” he responds. “I guess you could say people are scared of the unknown out there.”

Some of his customers are cutting back until all this is resolved. And, it will be resolved, right? After all, the fiscal cliff has something to make every constituency angry: defense cuts, tax hikes for all, you name it. 

But for all the focus on the year-end deadline, some say the date doesn’t really matter. 

“I don’t think it needs to be resolved by January 1,” says Gus Faucher of PNC Financial. “But it needs to look like they’re making progress.”

Faucher says if we were to go over the cliff, we’d plunge right into recession. And, that would be a big deal. Or, would it? 

“I’m losing sleep because I’m afraid it’s not going to happen,” says Gregory Curtis, chairman of wealth advisors Greycourt & Co.   

He actually wants us to go over the cliff? 

“I know it sounds terrible. I don’t really want it to happen,” he says. “But my real fear here is that we’re just going to muddle through somehow and reach some kind of weasly compromise that just avoids the fiscal cliff but doesn’t really address the issues.” 

If business isn’t afraid of it, is anyone else losing sleep? Chris Whelan has one answer: 

“Well I think everyone in the media because they have to come in earlier and do lots more interviews,” Whelan says.  

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