Washington was embroiled in a game of fiscal chicken at the end of the year. Unemployment is high at 7.7%. The 2.5 million people who are unemployed but so discouraged that they’re not actively looking are unchanged from 2011. November’s month’s trade deficit ticked up, which is a worrisome sign. 

And behind it all, Ben Bernanke is busy. He has, for the first time, tied the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates to a 6.5% unemployment target. And in the face of an insistent economic funk, the Fed’s latest round of quantitative easing uses $85 billion of monthly monetary kindling to do what many credit unions would also like to do: put capital to productive use in the real economy.

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