The phrase fiscal cliff' was coined to capture the large and predicted reduction in the US budget deficit expected as specific laws kicked into effect from 2013.
In combination, these laws would put a big squeeze on the US economy as the combined impact was to increase taxes (in some cases by ending existing tax breaks originally designed to stimulate the economy) and also reduce state expenditure.
Critics worried that this 'double whammy' would send the US economy spiralling back into deep recession.
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