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PODCAST: Paycheck expectations, A seeing-eye cat?

A dog wearing 2013 glasses poses as he celebrates the beginning of New Year's Day in Puerta del Sol in Madrid on December 31, 2012.

President Obama has arrived in Hawaii, where he is getting back to his vacation with his family. He will sign the fiscal cliff compromise bill from there -- reportedly that has not happened yet. The House passed the measure last night in a rare vote that did not enjoy the support of the majority party. Twice as many Republicans voted against the bill as voted for it. The heavy focus throughout has been on tax hikes for the wealthy, and on the fate of those automatic spending cuts, which have been put off for two months. But there are other critical aspects of this deal that ought to to be drawing our attention such as the payroll tax. Even though there's more work ahead, global markets seem satisfied with America's latest budget fix. They've mostly ended the day up. 

One day before U.S. automakers release their full sales data for 2012, an industry research firm projects another strong year of car sales in 2013. Polk Research projects U.S. vehicle registrations up 7 percent from last year. In other auto news, a projection by the Financial Times shows China, for the first time, is poised to produce more cars than all of Europe and Russia. In 2013, China should account for about a quarter of global auto manufacturing.

The website Buzzfeed has pulled together some stats to sum up some of our more dubious accomplishments from 2012. The world produced 2.6 trillion tons of garbage. Americans were responsible for about 19 percent of that. We sent 53 trillion emails, and made about 100 trillion posts to Twitter. All of us together spent almost 12 million years on the Internet. One-sixth of that time was on Facebook. New Years resolutions, anybody?
                    
Avis said this morning it intends to buy a company called Zipcar for almost $500 million . If you haven't seen Zipcar in your town yet, it's a car-sharing service. Basically, you sign up for a membership that entitles you to reserve and check out one of their cars parked anywhere nearby. 

The coming weeks could be crucial for one of America's fastest-growing companies. Herbalife is a nutrition-supplement powerhouse, and it faces charges that its business model essentially boils down to a get-rich-quick scheme.

Also in the coming weeks, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is expected to spin off its animal health division. The IPO for the new company, called Zoetis, could net $4 billion. The news underscores just how lucrative drugs and vaccines for animals have become.  

And finally, guess it's time to inaugurate a new year of adorable animal stories. Terfel is an eight-year-old dog in Wales who has developed cataracts. The dog was too blind and scared to leave his basket. Then his owner took in a stray cat. As Britain's Sun newspaper tells the story, the cat quickly approached Terfel and led him outside. They've been taking walks together ever since. Basically, it's a seeing-eye cat for a dog.

About the author

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

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