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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Who's Afraid of Chained CPI?

As the fiscal cliff talks evolve and devolve, the latest spat has been whether the arc of federal spending should be curtailed by changing the way that we assess costs. The proposal from the White House is to switch the way cost-of-living adjustments are made for Social Security benefits. Rather than pegging those to the Consumer Price Index as currently calculated, these would be pegged to a "chain-weighted" Consumer Price Index, which would save as much as $125 billion in additional benefits over the next decade.

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Our Hero, Ben Bernanke: Why Central Bankers (Not Politicians) Are Saving the Global Economy

The Federal Reserve just announced a new round of measures designed to keep the money flowing. Central bankers -- not to be confused with the heads of private banks that have received so much opprobrium for their role in the financial crises of the past years - are not noted for their charisma or their communication skills, but their role in shaping today's world, shadowy at times, could hardly be greater. The question is: Are they helping or harming?

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The Bipolar Economy: If Consumers Are Happy, Why Is Business So Miserable?

A strange inversion has happened in the past few months: Consumers have gone from being deeply pessimistic about the future to slightly optimistic at the same time that companies have moved from being slightly positive to increasingly negative. That discrepancy is intriguing, and raises the question: Which view will determine the course of the near future? Will the buoyed spirits of people carry the day, or will corporate glumness pull us down?

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6 Reasons to Be Thankful About the Economy Today

It's admittedly trite to use the occasion of Thanksgiving to look on the bright side, but given how rarely we cast an optimistic outlook these days, it's as good a reason as any. With Chapter LXXII of the Middle East conflict playing out in Gaza and the daily soap opera of Washington politics oscillating between sex scandals and fiscal fearmongering, we are once again subsuming the bigger picture to the smaller one and privileging fear.

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Boehner Still Wants Obamacare Repeal as Part of "Fiscal Cliff" Negotiations

Even after the election, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is still trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even after all three branches of government have approved this. Meanwhile, other Republicans line up for 2016. Keith Boykin and Zachary Karabell of CNBC and Martin Kady of Politico discuss with Thomas Roberts on MSNBC's News Nation.

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Cheer Up, America! The Economy (and the Country) Is Much Better Off Than You Think

Barely had the counting ceased in last week's presidential election when the news took a somber turn. Two of the next day's headlines read "Back to Work, Looming Fiscal Crisis Greets Obama" and my favorite, "America has Sown the Seeds of Its Own Demise." Politicians either celebrated or decried the results, but regardless of party affiliation most warned of formidable challenges and a perilous future.

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Don’t blame China for America’s decline

Two things seem certain in modern presidential campaigns: Candidates will spend more time attacking each other than offering constructive alternatives, and one or both will attack China.In 1992, Bill Clinton accused President George H.W. Bush of coddling Chinese dictators. In 2004, John F. Kerry assailed “Benedict Arnold CEOs,” and by extension their allies in President George W. Bush’s administration, for shipping jobs to China.

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