Tough decisions loom as US hits debt ceiling

Commentary: Default is not an option

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Mid-July is normally the center of the Silly Season news-drought, in which media give front-page treatment to "Man Bites Dog."

This year, that dog is plumb-near bit to death.

Newsies this week overread Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony and Fed minutes, finding all sorts of hints that were not there. The Fed is "open to stimulus if necessary," but so it is, always. At this moment, the Fed is confused, sticking to "better in second half," its members divided, and both consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI) core inflation popped to 0.3 percent in June. The Fed chairman must be prepared to fill hours of air time with no content, and Bernanke rose to the occasion.

The economic data are just above stall speed. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) small-business survey in June was the same as May, at recession threshold, and June retail sales had no gain.