Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday gave a bleak assessment of the economy to the Senate Banking Committee, saying that economic growth had "decelerated" in the first half of 2012 and that "further weakness" lay ahead. Bernanke said that the central bank was prepared to take additional action to bolster the economy, but that it had not settled on a specific course of action. Bernanke pleaded with lawmakers to act as soon as possible to prevent the economy from going over a "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year, when a slate of tax cuts are set to expire and deep spending cuts are scheduled to take effect. No deal is expected to be reached on the fiscal cliff until after the November election.
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