The greatest economic concern for chemical industry executives is the impending fiscal cliff, according to a survey by financial firm KPMG. That series of mandatory, across-the-board federal spending cuts and tax increases is set to begin at the start of 2013. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) are in the midst of negotiations to avert it. The fiscal cliff plus broader economic uncertainty have led companies to focus on improving their operations and making sure they are in a good position to weather any financial storm that may happen if no deal is struck. Obama and Boehner have traded proposals with different amounts of tax increases and spending cuts, but as C&EN went to press, talks between the two sides appeared to be breaking down. Meanwhile, Nobel Prize winners are urging an agreement to prevent mandatory R&D cuts. In a letter-writing campaign organized by the Coalition for the Life Sciences, 21 Nobelists sent letters to political leaders every day for 21 days starting on Dec. 3.