Ezra pointed out earlier this week that the debate over the fiscal cliff could potentially frighten the markets and harm the economy well before December. In fact, there are signs that we're headed down that path already. The New York Times flags a policy uncertainty index created by researchers from Stanford and the University of Chicago. The index spiked during the debt ceiling crisis—just as consumer confidence and job growth both slowed. Now the index is back on the rise:

(www.policyuncertainty.com)

Already, the index is nearly as high as it was during Barack Obama's inauguration, and it's getting close to the level of policy uncertainty in the banking crisis of late 2008:

(www.policyuncertainty.com)