NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday urged lawmakers to act as soon as possible to avoid the fiscal cliff.
“Coming together to find fiscal solutions will not be easy, but the stakes are high,” Bernanke said, speaking before the Economic Club of New York.

The Fed chief cited projections from the Congressional Budget Office that predict the $7 trillion combination of spending cuts and tax increases could send the U.S. economy toppling back into recession.
He also cited Europe’s debt crisis as an obstacle to U.S. economic growth.
“Currently, uncertainties about the situation in Europe and especially about the prospects for federal fiscal policy seem to be weighing on the spending decisions of households and businesses as well as on financial conditions,” Bernanke said.
“Such uncertainties will only be increased by discord and delay,” he added.
Bernanke said U.S. economic growth has been “disappointingly slow” and although the unemployment rate has been declining, it is still well above its pre-recession level.

By Annalyn Kurtz @CNNMoney November 20, 2012: 2:30 PM ET