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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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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