Remarkable stories from the web in a new, easier format.

Using an average of figures released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Perkins highlighted that the U.S. had tightened its structural budget position by 4.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) between 2010 and 2013.

What cuts? US austerity ‘tougher than in Europe’

10 of the tallest places to live in the world

10 of the tallest places to live in the world – Telegraph

Credit Suisse global equities strategist Andrew Garthwaite recently laid out four macro trends investors should keep a close eye on over the next six months, as well as seven concrete investing ideas.

Credit Suisse: 4 Macro Trends – Business Insider

The data show the first substantial increase in outstanding balances since 2008, when Americans began reducing their debt. As of September 30, 2013, total consumer indebtedness was $11.28 trillion, up 1.1 percent from its level in the previous quarter, although still considerably below the peak of $12.67 trillion in 2008:Q3.

Just Released: Deleveraging Decelerates and Household Balances Increase – Liberty Street Economics

Since the start of the crisis in 2007, the four central banks of the United States, the United Kingdom, the euro zone, and Japan have injected $4.7 trillion of liquidity into their economies, pushing interest rates to very low levels (Exhibit 1). The consensus is that these actions have raised GDP by between 1% and 3% and prevented a catastrophic failure in the global financial system.

Unconventional monetary policy: Quantitative easing, not as we know it | The Economist

In the universe as a whole, it is one of the commonest elements, second only to hydrogen in its abundance. On Earth it is relatively rare, and the only element that escapes gravity and leaks away into space.

BBC News – Is it right to waste helium on party balloons?

This means that the Great Divergence of living standards between Europe and Asia had late medieval origins and was already well under way during the early modern period, contrary to the recent revisionist views of writers such as Kenneth Pomeranz. However, the revisionists are correct to point to regional variation within both continents.

Accounting for the great divergence | vox

Here’s the basic fact about all insurance markets: What gets paid out must equal what gets paid in. Or to put it another way, what is paid in by the average person in premiums must be pretty much equal (with some minor differences noted below) to what is received by the average person in benefits. And here’s the unpalatable implication: Some people will receive much more from insurance payments than they pay in.

CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST: Unavoidable Realities of Insurance: Health Care Edition

Would people flock to buy a “drunk without alcohol” pill? That’s what one British neuroscientist is betting on

‘Drunk without alcohol’ pill may be wave of the future – Minneapolis Top News |

Many analysts are arguing stocks are set to benefit from a generational shift out of bonds, as retirees seek higher income. This would boost stock prices, but Federal Reserve data show individual investors have very little invested in bonds. There is not enough available in fixed-income investments to cause a significant gain in the stock market.

There’s Not Enough Capital in the Bond Market to Fuel a Bull Market in Stocks

While intuitive, we are worried by the fact that much of the weakness in job growth has been in three areas of the economy — construction, finance and government — and this could be more structural than cyclical in nature

Economists: Slow GDP Growth Could Be New Normal

And if that’s how you see things, when looking forward you have to regard the liquidity trap not as an exceptional state of affairs but as the new normal.

Secular Stagnation, Coalmines, Bubbles, and Larry Summers –

Now Case, 55, has come out of semiretirement to create Revolution, a Washington, D.C., venture capital fund that he says will become the largest startup investor east of the Mississippi River. Case is no buzzword-dropping futurist. He’s practical, with a sharp eye for Main Street’s needs and, he says, “big ideas that are still small companies.” So it’s significant that his fund has bet most heavily so far on e-commerce startups.

Steve Case’s Revolution Makes Big Bets on E-Commerce | MIT Technology Review

Chinese shares hit a one-month high on Monday as news in China of sweeping economic reforms ignited a fresh lease of life into what has proven to be Asia’s worst performing major market this year.

At last, China stocks get something to shout about

Japan’s Nikkei climbed to a six-month high on Friday, breaking decisively above the 15,000 level on renewed yen weakness amid expectations that U.S. monetary policy will remain easy.

Is there no stopping Japan’s Nikkei?

Fundamentals driving market, not QE: Pro

Fundamentals driving market, not QE: Pro | Watch the video – Yahoo Finance

“There’s a good chance that the economic upturn in Germanywill be further cemented in the coming months,” the central banksaid in its November monthly report.

Germany to consolidate upturn in coming months-Bundesbank – Yahoo Finance

As the world’s fastest train raced through the mountains of central Japan, former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York hoisted his 6-foot-5 frame into the aisle, lifted his hands from his seat and marveled at the smoothness of the ride.

Japan Pitches Americans on Its Maglev Train –