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An actual cliff diver on the fiscal cliff

Corporate CEO's, labor leaders, and politicians have all weighed in on the fiscal cliff. But what will the budget and tax negotiations mean to you and your wallet?

Want to know what it's like to fall -- or jump -- off a cliff? We asked someone who does it for a living.

Steven LoBue is an assistant diving coach at Pine Crest School in Boca Raton, Fla., by day, but he moonlights as the number one ranked American cliff diver and the number three cliff diver in the world. LoBue says diving off a 90-foot cliff is all about controlling your fear and getting used to the idea that a tiny mistake that result in a disproportionate amount of pain.

"The slightest miscalculation could be pretty dramatic," LoBue says, and told us about an early wipeout. "I made a slight error on the angle of entry and broke my tailbone."

So what would it be like to dive off the fiscal cliff...literally?

A U.S. bank note is about .0043 inches thick, so we calculated the height of a stack of $100 bills equal to the $560 billion price tag on the upcoming fiscal cliff. Turns out, that cliff would be about 380 miles tall. So we tried the calculation with $100,000 bills (yeah, they existed at one point) stacked up. The height: more than 10 times that of the current world record high dive of 175 feet.

"At that point," laughs LoBue, "you're talking about skydiving, not so much cliff diving."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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