As we contemplate the prospect of no fiscal cliff deal today, we're beginning to talk in terms of a retroactive deal: Basically, we go over the cliff -- but some deal struck in the next few weeks tries to make it as if that never happened.
While leaders in Washington peer down the fiscal cliff, let's not forget the fiscal fact that brought us to the edge: It's an annual U.S. government deficit of more than a trillion dollars. But through it all, one government-related entity has been hauling in record surpluses. New data capture the scope of profits at the U.S. Federal Reserve. And that got the attention of our regular guest Allan Sloan -- senior editor at large at Fortune Magazine.
Investors: If you're not sure just how to play the market right now, evidently Legos have been a solid way to stack up profits lately. The trick is to stockpile limited-edition Lego sets when they're in stores -- many tend to rise considerably in value once they're discontinued. One Millenium Falcon set from 2007, to choose an extreme example, is up more than 300 percent. The folks who do this aren't toying around: There are websites like BrickPicker dedicated to Lego investing; one investor in Memphis keeps his 3,000-set inventory in climate-controlled storage.
After four years -- an extremly long time, as these things go -- the Tribune Company emerges today from bankruptcy. The media conglomerate includes the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, 23 TV stations, and a big slice of the Food Network.
The number of bank failures across the country has fallen during the past year. Yet still, a conspicuous number of banks went under. Most banks are earning more as the economy recovers, so why are some still failing.
2012 was a year of record profits for OPEC -- the cartel of African, South American, and Middle Eastern countries that sit on 80 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. Oil revenues for the OPEC countries look to hit an all-time high of one trillion dollars for the year.
We've all heard stories -- and maybe you even know someone -- whose had their social media exploits seen by their boss or someone else with whom they'd rather not share details of their private life. Increasingly some employers and college admission offices have required applicants to hand over their social media passwords, so they can go in and have a look around. But under a new law in California, that becomes illegal tomorrow.
And finally, there has long been a certain mystique around the astronaut Neil Armstrong's words when he landed on the moon in 1969. "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"-- right? Armstrong had said that he made it up on the spot, but that's been disputed. Armstrong passed away this year back in August. But a BBC documentary that aired over the weekend offers a new story. The documentary quotes Neil's brother Dean, who says he and his brother were playing a board game in the days before the launch. Neil handed his brother a slip of paper with the famous phrase written on it, to see what he thought of it. He told the astronaut it was fabulous. And what board game was Neil Armstrong playing, just before heading off on his perilous first-ever trip to the moon? Risk.