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Americans plan to spend more on gifts this Christmas than in any holiday season in the past five years as economic optimism hits a post-recession high. The average American plans to spend $765 this year, up 12% versus last year. Behind the Yuletide cheer is an improved outlook for expected home values, wage gains and stocks—all three are at or above their highest levels since the 2008 recession. (CNBC) 
 
The U.S. economy is picking up speed. That's the view of a panel of business economists, whose latest growth forecast calls for a 3.1% advance in U.S. gross domestic product in 2015—up from a 2.2% expansion this year. Global growth is seen rising 3.4% next year, with China slowing to a 7% annual pace, Europe expanding by 1.2% and Japan eking out 1% gain in GDP. (National Association for Business Economics)
 
When workers pass up an offer of essentially free money with no strings attached, it's hard to identify a scapegoat other than those workers. More than 56,000 Boeing employees collectively left $98 million on the table in 2013 by not taking advantage of matching funds in the company's 401(k) plan. Approximately 8,400 Boeing employees declined to participate at all in the program last year, and another 48,000 didn't contribute enough to receive the maximum company match. 
 
Obesity is now a threat to the world economy.  Taking together the costs of healthcare, of lost productivity and other spending needed to mitigate its impact, the annual cost of obesity now tops $2 trillion, or 2.8% of global economic output. That compares with an estimate of $2.1 trillion for war and terrorism, and for smoking, and is way ahead of alcoholism ($1.4 trillion).  (Fortune)
 

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