WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the U.S. economy is already being hurt by the "fiscal cliff" standoff in Washington but the Fed believes the crisis will be resolved without significant long-term damage.
Bernanke said the steep tax increases and spending cuts can be avoided with a successful budget deal. The Fed's latest forecasts for stronger economic growth next year and slightly lower unemployment assume that happens.
Still, Bernanke said the uncertainty surrounding the resolution is already affecting consumer and business confidence. And it has led businesses to cut back on investment.
"Clearly the fiscal cliff is having effects on the economy," Bernanke said.
Bernanke said the most helpful thing that Congress and the Obama administration can do is resolve the issue quickly.