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Bernanke warns Congress to avoid 'fiscal cliff'

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke addresses a luncheon gathering of The Economic Club of New York, in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Bernanke on Tuesday urged Congress and the Obama administration to strike a budget deal to avert tax increases and spending cuts that could trigger a recession next year. Without a deal, the measures known as the "fiscal cliff" will take effect in January. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday urged Congress and the Obama administration to strike a budget deal to avert tax increases and spending cuts that could trigger a recession next year.

Without a deal, the measures known as the "fiscal cliff" will take effect in January.

Bernanke also said Congress must raise the federal debt limit to prevent the government from defaulting on Treasurys debt. Failure to do so would impose heavy costs on the economy, he said. Bernanke said Congress also needs to reduce the federal debt over the long run to ensure economic growth and stability.

Uncertainty about all these issues is likely holding back spending and investment and troubling investors, the Fed chairman said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York.

Resolving the fiscal crisis would prevent a sudden and severe shock to the economy, help reduce unemployment and strengthen growth, he said. That could make the new year "a very good one for the American economy," he said.


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