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PODCAST: Consumer confidence, health care spending jump up

A doctor examines a patient.

Some important economic data has rolled our way this morning, including the latest read on consumer confidence.

Markets closed moderately higher in Europe, amid the usual rhetorical fireworks: Germany's Angela Merkel warned Spain, Greece and company need to cut their spending. The head of the Euroepean Central Bank says he stands by to rescue them if they get into trouble.

Health care spending grew more than 4 percent last year, according to a new report out this morning.

Workers at Yahoo! are expecting to hear from the company's new CEO today, on her plans to jump-start growth. There's already been one big change insde the company: Yahoo! employees are all getting free smartphones and free meals at work.

China today officially put its first aircraft carrier into service. China says the timing has nothing to do with its recent tiffs with Asian neighbors over naval territory. One of those -- a dispute between China and Japan over a chain of islands -- could have a real impact on the U.S. economy, because Japan is expected to switch focus from a free-trade pact with China to a new one with the United States.           

If you're trying to get ahead in this economy, there's some age-old wisdom that would seem to apply: play up your accomplishments. Seems obvious, but maybe that's in fact not your best plan of attack. A recent paper from researchers at Stanford and Harvard sets out to show that potential for success is considerably more powerful than the things you've actually achieved.

Finally, straight out of "James Bond" or something -- this week at a German auto show, Goodyear is rolling out its new self-inflating tires. The tires will automatically monitor their pressure and open up a valve to somehow inflate themselves if the pressure gets too low. Commercial truckers will be the first to get these, but there will be a consumer version coming. Not sure how far you can push this -- gonna try mine out on some parking garage tire spikes.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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