FILE - This Nov. 16, 2012 file photo shows President Barack Obama shaking hands with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, during a meeting to discuss the deficit and economy. Congress and the White House can significantly soften the initial impact of the “fiscal cliff” even if they fail to reach a compromise by Dec. 31. One thing they cannot control, however, is the financial markets' reaction, which possibly could be a panicky sell-off that triggers economic reversals worldwide. The stock market's unpredictability is perhaps the biggest wild card in the political showdown over the fiscal cliff. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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