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The big picture view of an ever-changing global economy.

Wage against the machine: The Daily Show takes on inequality (VIDEO)

Humor, economics, and good old American douchebaggery.
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President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the US Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — President Obama, blah blah blah, economic inequality, yadda yadda yadda.

That's what much of Twitter sounds like today following Tuesday night's State of the Union address by President Barack Obama.

And, yes, the issue is a critically important one, as GlobalPost has reported extensively here.

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US Economy: My county, 'tis of thee

Like politics, economics is all local.
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New homes under construction at a housing development in Gilbert, Ariz., are seen in this photo on March 6, 2013. In 2008, Phoenix was at the forefront of the United States housing crisis, but now the city is now undergoing a housing boom as sale prices have surged 22.9 percent, the highest price increase in the nation. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BOSTON — Sure, in 2013 the US economy continued to bounce back from the Great Recession.

Here are three key stats that prove the thesis:

US gross domestic product surged 4.1 percent in the third quarter.

The unemployment rate fell below 7 percent in December (it now stands at 6.7 percent).

Housing prices in the US rose 12.5 percent in the third quarter from the previous year.

But can you spot the problem in these three happy figures?

Answer: they're all national numbers that don't tell the whole story.

In fact, these reports can hide what's happening in the economies of one particular region, state, or even county.

That's the big takeaway from an interesting report released Monday by the National Association of Counties.

Economics — like politics — is definitely local.

About half of America's 3,069 economies have still failed to recover from pre-recession levels, according to the Country Tracker 2013 report.

In it, the association — which promotes economic development and policy at the nation's county level — examined the key drivers of the world's largest economy: GDP, total jobs created, the unemployment rate and housing prices.

At every turn it found overall improvement, but wide discrepancies at the local level.

Here's how the Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog put it:

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Economists are horrible, horrible people. So says science

Why does the invisible hand want to slap you across the face?
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You want this cash money? You know you do. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — Why does the invisible hand want to slap you across the face?

Because it belongs to a douchebag.

That's the conclusion, anyway, of a provocative blog post in Psychology Today by Wharton professor Adam Grant making the rounds across planet internet.

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The shutdown is over (for now). What did it cost the economy?

You're not going to like this, America (and the rest of the world).
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(Flickr Commons)
BOSTON — There's been a lot of chatter the past couple days about what the 16-day US government shutdown will cost the world's largest economy. Standard & Poor's has something rather stunning to say on the matter.
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Innovation or nightmare? Here come the cyborg-bugs

Grab a cockroach, slap some fancy electronics on it, and send it on its way. What could go wrong?
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Hey, little guys. Want to be part of a cool new research project? (ANNA MONACO/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — Well here's an interesting idea.

Or one that might keep you up at night.

Researchers at North Carolina State University are looking to explore dangerous or other unknown spaces with the help of a swarm of insect cyborgs, or what they call “biobots.”

That's right: you take a cockroach, slap some fancy electronics onto it, and let the little sucker loose.

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Nobel Prize for Economics: In praise of usefulness (VIDEO)

Not all economists are theoretical blowhards. Some actually make the world a better-informed place.
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How do you make sense of something like this? (NASA/Courtesy)
University of Chicago economists Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen — as well as Yale economist Robert Shiller — have all done something that most economists can only dream about: create research and knowledge that's used every day, and that affects the lives of millions of people.
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US debt ceiling: The world scolds Washington. Again

No, world leaders are not very happy with what's happening at the political center of Earth's largest economy.
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No, IMF chief Christine Lagarde doesn't like what she's seeing in Washington, D.C. these days. (Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images)
No, world leaders are not very happy with what's happening at the political center of Earth's largest economy. Not happy at all.
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BMW CEO to Germans: Chill out and start buying electric cars

What happens when angst meets precision engineering?
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) visit a BMW plant in Leipzig on Nov. 5, 2010. The plant will be expanded to produce the newly-developed Megacity electric car. (Steffen Kugler/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — Germans are rightfully famous for their engineering prowess.

They're also famous for fretting about things.

Those two national characteristics congealed this week in the very German person of Norbert Reithofer, the chief executive officer of BMW.

According to Bloomberg, Reithofer essentially told his fellow Germans to fight their natural instincts to doubt and fear new things.

He wants them, instead, to embrace the future. To be precise, the future of electric cars.

Here's how Reithofer put it:

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The Great Gatsby Curve

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the graph.
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Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's 3D interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel. (Screengrab/Screengrab)

BOSTON — There's been plenty of excited chatter in recent days about "The Great Gatsby," the splashy — and in this writer's opinion, highly enjoyable — Baz Luhrmann film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic Jazz Age novel.

The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival Monday — on the very day France once again slipped into recession.

As GlobalPost's Senior Correspondent for Europe Paul Ames reported, "The symbolism of Cannes opening with Baz Luhrmann's extravagant 3-D evocation of millionaire decadence in roaring '20s New York, did not go unnoticed."

But there are other important things "The Great Gatsby" can teach us about economics, aside from how much fun those West Egg parties must have been.

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Oh yeah, Egypt: Don't look now, but there's another crisis coming

Forget the revolution. The real problem in Egypt is the country's terrible economy.
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Egyptians ride their camels past the pyramid of Khafre in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, on November 30, 2010. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

Revolution is a tricky thing.

There's a lot of noise. Yelling in the streets. Flags wave energetically. Television news anchors descend like a pack of well-coiffed lemmings, spouting platitudes about hope and history.

And then reality sets in. Cold, hard and, yes, very depressing reality.

That's pretty much what's going on in Egypt these days, the most populous country and one of the most important economies in a very troubled Middle East. And, if you're not paying attention, you should be.

In short, Egypt's economy is a mess. And it's only getting worse.

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