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Gap between US rich and poor reaches record width

The current gap between America's rich and poor is the widest in history, new research reveals, as the country continues to struggle to recover from a crippling economic downturn.

Revisiting the American economy four years after it hit bottom

Commentary: The recent rally has taken us back to baseline with a big upswing just beginning.
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 6, 2013 in New York City. One day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied to a record high to close at 14,253.77, stocks were up over 40 points in morning trading. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK — The recent rally has taken us back to baseline with a big upswing just beginning.
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Some unexpected positive news for euro zone and some expected negative news, as well, today.

The OECD has broken ranks with the IMF and the European Commission and predicted that the euro zone economy will avoid recession and grow a fraction this year, reports the FT.

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Austerity bites: British economy contracts

The British economy contracted 0.2 percent in the last quarter of 2011
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Britain's austerity architect, Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, says there will be no change to his economic plans despite British economy experiencing negative growth in the last three months of 2011 (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

The Office of National Statistics' figures on the British economy were not hugely surprising. Economists had been expecting a contraction of some kind.

The Financial Times surveyed a group recently and they thought the economy would shrink by 0.1 percent.

The prospects for another contraction this quarter are high. The FT report notes construction and manufacturing activity are down. With sizeable lay-offs coming in the public and private sector, as I blogged recently, the prospect of a double-dip recession is increasing in probability.

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IMF report sharply downgrades global growth and blames the euro. European daily economic round-up

IMF dramatic revision of figures projects euro zone as a whole will be in recession in 2012

The IMF has sharply cut its growth forecast for the global economy this year and reason number one is the euro area. Just last September, in its World Economic Outlook, the IMF had projected world output to grow by 4 percent in 2012, now because of the euro zone debt crisis it expects growth of just 3.3 percent. The organization made clear what this dramatic reassessment means.

“Given the depth of the 2009 recession, these growth rates are too sluggish to make a major dent in very high unemployment,” the IMF said.

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The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and its battle group have been on patrol in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has threatened to close the Strait in response to EU sanctions on the import of Iranian oil. (U.S. Navy/AFP/Getty Images)

Is the Iran oil embargo another staggering step towards war?

The EU's Iran oil embargo had been expected but that doesn't mean it won't significantly up the temperature.

Julian Borger at The Guardian has a lengthy essay on what this means and how the EU action might lead Iran to indulge in " ... harassment of the oil trade that would drive the price of crude up and keep it up, very much to Iran's benefit, but fall short of a casus belli for war. However, exercising such options requires subtlety and fine judgment on all sides and that is by no means a given. "

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Spain is back in recession

Economy Minister says Spain has "relapsed" in the last quarter of 2011
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It's a tough job but somebody has to do it. Luis de Guindos arrives for his first day of work as Spain's Economy Minister (PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Economy Minister says Spain has "relapsed" into recession in the last quarter of 2011. Further contraction is expected next year.
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OECD report: Euro zone is in recession

Grim news keeps piling on and it's not just those in the euro zone who are suffering.
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In this photo illustration a Greek flag is covered with one Euro coins on October 4, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/AFP/Getty Images)
The OECD issued its semi-annual report into the world economy. It is about as unpleasant to read as it must have been to write.
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As British GDP is revised down, Cameron looks to rosy future

Growth on the horizon, British Prime Minister tells his party conference, as official statistics show British economy has not grown in 9 months

Afternoon Edition:

Part 1: British Prime Minister David Cameron is doing his Sunny Jim thing, as I write. The PM is naturally youthful looking but when set against his party he looks like a teen-ager and speaks with the fervent optimism of a 16 year old spending a weekend with the old folks. He is giving the closing speech of his party's annual conference now and telling them the future is rosy and Britain will grow and grow.

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