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Obama's Revenge: Seven And A Half Things

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In the year 2525, you will still need to know only seven and a half things each day. Here they are:

Thing One: Great-Like Expectations: You may have noticed lately that the economy is somewhat less terrible than it used to be. Economists, who are paid to notice such things, have somewhat raised their forecasts for jobs, home-building and business spending this year, according to the latest National Association for Business Economics poll, out today. The mildly less-horrible flavor of the economy, along with prolonged exposure to the Republican candidates, has helped President Obama's standing among people who answer poll questions, according to a new George Washington University Battleground poll, also out today. Number cruncher Nate Silver of Five-Thirty-Eight, the Billy Beane of politics, a couple of weeks ago pronounced that the "fundamentals" of the economy favored President Obama's re-election. They are slowly being re-en-favored, which is a word.

Ah, but there are still so many reasons to worry about the economy. For one thing, deficit-fighting measures this year will slow the economy down, something keeping Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke up at night, Bloomberg writes. Though Obama's poll numbers are up, he allowed himself to be dragged into a big deficit fight last year, which is still hurting his image, even as he quietly enacts some of the very deficit-fighting measures that are working against the economy this year, the New York Times writes. Meanwhile, Spencer Jakab in the Wall Street Journal notes that economists might have hit peak optimism.

Thing Two: Fighting Over The Check In Europe: European stocks, and U.S. stock futures, are down this morning as Germany and the world's biggest industrialized nations fought over the weekend about whose turn it is to fill up the giant swimming pool full of cash that will be used to put out Europe's debt-crisis fires. Europe was like, how about it, G-20, it's your turn to add some cash, and the G-20 was all, what do we look like, an ATM, why don't you ask Germany for cash, it's got more money than us. And then everybody got quiet and looked at Germany, which had been again loudly expounding the virtues of its "Nein Nein Nein" approach to adding more money to the cash pool. In short, Europe: Still not solved.

Thing Three: BP In Settlement Talks: A ginormous trial over BP's Gulf oil spill in 2010 is on hold while BP and a group of plaintiffs talk about a $14 billion settlement, Bloomberg reports. These talks are with businesses and people who say they were hurt by the spill -- they do not involve the U.S. government, which has its own bone to pick with BP.

Thing Four: Buffett's Heir Not Apparent: America's most beloved rich guy, Warren Buffett, is getting up there in years. Investors in his massive insurance conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, are worried that one day his steady diet of See's Candy and Coca-Cola will take its toll and he won't be able to oversee his massive fortune in the manner to which the shareholders have grown accustomed. Not to worry, he says: He's got an heir all picked out already. Except he won't say who that heir is, which has people worried, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Thing Five: What's a Stratfor: Ever want to feel like a big-shot corporate chieftain getting secretive briefings from shadowy international operatives? Me neither. But now's our chance to see how the NASCAR owners live, as WikiLeaks today begins releasing a bunch of emails from the geopolitical intelligence-gathering firm Stratfor, Reuters writes.

Thing Six: HSBC's Secret To Success: Hey, Western banks. Sick of losing money in the U.S. and Europe? Take a note from HSBC, which this morning reported a whopping $22 billion profit for 2011, thanks to doing most of its business in Asia.

Thing Seven: China's Property Problem: But don't get too excited about Asia. China has a small debt problem of its own, which at some point could turn ugly, as debt problems do. Esther Fung of the Wall Street Journal writes about building projects in China sitting uncompleted after a government effort to push down property prices, one symptom of a broader malady of too much investment, too soon in China.

Thing Seven And One Half: Worst. Oscars. Ever: At least since the last Oscars. First, take Billy Crystal. Please! Seriously, folks, try the veal. And then, what was that squeaking noise? Do they not know the concept of "hot mic" at the Oscars? Somehow the evening almost made you get angry with national treasure Meryl Streep and the endearing little French movie that won pretty much all of the awards. But mostly it just left you feeling old and sleepy, just like Oscar.

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