A Dynamic World Demands Dynamic Scoring

One of the first things the new Republican Congress voted on this week was to mandate a change in how the Congressional Budget Office analyzes (“scores”) spending bills. A technocratic change in how Congress assesses the impact of its proposed bills is not typically the stuff of great drama. This time is different.

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The Bright Side of Falling Off the Fiscal Cliff

As 2012 sputters to a close, it wraps up with a yawning gap between widespread economic pessimism and the actual state of economic affairs. Though consumer sentiment rebounded in the fall, it fell in December, amid relentless coverage of the impending fiscal cliff. Holiday spending was muted. Businesses, meanwhile, cite the unresolved negotiations in Washington as evidence of continued uncertainty and many have put new spending, hiring, or investment on hold. The media counts the days (and on some cable news channels, the minutes and the seconds) till we descend the fiscal cliff, adding to the general agitation.

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The Unknowable Lightness of Being

Each month, the Federal Reserve releases its latest minutes of its last meeting along with its projections of economic activity (www.federalreserve.gov). The minutes just released indicate that its prior forecasts have been tweaked a bit, with update projections for unemployment over the next two years, GDP growth, and inflation. As new data become available, the hundreds of economists at the Fed revise and recalculate numbers, which means that any forecast rarely lasts more than a few months.

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