Suzy is right. The term “fiscal crisis,” which is getting used interchangeably with “fiscal cliff,” is confusing. “Fiscal slope” isn’t much better, and “fiscal obstacle course” is, with respect to my friends at EPI, absolutely not going to happen.
The problem is twofold. First, no one knows what the term “fiscal” means. Insofar as people have heard of “fiscal crises,” they usually refer to crises triggered when high deficits lead to a spike in bond prices, which is pretty much the opposite of the current situation.
Second, it’s not clear whether the “fiscal cliff” is a cliff or a slope because we have no idea how financial markets will react if we tip over. We need something better. Something that actually conveys what we fear happening at the end of the year.
I like Suzy’s suggestion of “austerity crisis.” That is, after all, a precise description of what we’re facing: A crisis of too much austerity, too quickly. But I’m open to other suggestions, too. So leave your nomination in comments. Wonkblog will begin using the winner.