The 'new normal' trudges on.


In the United States the infamous March 1 deadline came and went. And with no new legislation that both houses of Congress could agree on to avert it, the so-called "sequester" (the across-the-board cutting of approximately $1.2 trillion in government spending over 10 years, starting with $85 billion this year) was set into motion.

Each political party assigned blame to the other, but in truth sequester was suggested by the White House back in 2011, approved by a bipartisan congressional vote and signed into law by the president. Two bills passed by the House in the 112th Congress to modify the law were not voted upon by the Senate.

In any case, waking up on the morning of March 2 life as we know it did not stop dead in its tracks and by that time even the White House had softened its "Armageddon-like" rhetoric of the sequester's impact. Subsequently, a few days later, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared to an all-time high, which kept going that entire week, buoyed also by a surprisingly good jobs report and reduction in unemployment numbers to 7.7 percent. So much for the pain we are supposed to be feeling!

Well, maybe there is hope for the U.S. to escape becoming Greece in the near future after all. If we can cut this minute amount from the nation's spiraling spending spree, who knows what else we might do to improve the overall U.S. economy.

Speaking of Greece, on the international front, all is not so peachy. Recent voting in Italy has given the lead to its non-austerity side and overall anemic growth, if any at all, is expected in Europe this year. China has slowed, and not much good news is predicted for Japan or the other industrialized nations. The U.S. continues to limply recover from the worst economy in more than a generation at a rate that is causing anything but optimism...

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