The United States isn't quite teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff but it's currently a whole lot closer than many would be comfortable with after Congress went home for the Christmas break and President Barack Obama flew to Hawaii with no deal.

Under the terms of the debt ceiling agreement thrashed out in August last year, US$109 billion in 'sequestrations" a year will kick in on January 2, while a round of Dubya-era tax cuts expires on 1 January.