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The great economic experiment of 2013: Ben Bernanke vs. austerity (WaPo)
Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal writes that U.S. economic policy has become a “punch me as hard as you can!” bar bet in which the Federal Reserve makes a big push to stimulate the recovery and lawmakers push back with spending cuts and tax hikes.
Latest GDP Report Shows U.S. Economy Still Waiting for Liftoff (Bloomberg View)
Matthew C. Klein notes that the last quarter’s growth, which came in below expectations, was driven largely by personal consumption, which can’t keep going unless people get more money, and stunted by austerity, which can evidently keep going no matter what.
The Story of Our Time (NYT)
With the austerity narrative looking shakier by the day, Paul Krugman offers a synopsis of the progressive alternative: the government isn’t like a family that needs to tighten its belt; it’s the spender of last resort that keeps your family from cutting off its circulation.
The Unluckiest Generation: What Will Become of Millennials? (The Atlantic)
Derek Thompson argues that while Millennials had the bad fortune to be born at precisely the right time to inherit an absolute economic mess when they came of age, they do at least have cheap food, clothing, and streaming video to help keep their spirits high.
Loans Borrowed Against Pensions Squeeze Retirees (NYT)
Older Americans aren’t faring much better than the younger ones, as Jessica Silver-Greenberg reports that retirees lured in by the promise of “pension advances” sometimes wind up paying up to 106 percent interest and turning over their life insurance to lenders.
How to Lose the Sequestration Fight (TPM)
Brian Beutler argues that Congress’s quick fix for flight delays isn’t just bad policy because it gives special treatment to the rich; it’s also bad strategy inasmuch as it proves Democrats don’t actually have one for holding Republicans accountable for the sequester.
Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever (Rolling Stone)
Matt Taibbi notes that in addition to messing with Libor, the international interest rate benchmark, the big banks may also have manipulated ISDAfix, a benchmark for pricing interest-rate swaps, making it the bacon cheeseburger pizza burger of financial scandals.
How One Tweet Almost Broke US Financial Markets (MoJo)
Nick Baumann writes that after one hacked tweet about a White House bombing sent the stock market plunging, critics of high-frequency trading software have new concerns about SEC oversight and how these computers would react to some real bad news.