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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 05-17-2013 06:00 AM

The Friday Five

Five stats from the market and the stories behind them. This week: falling sales for Wal-Mart, rising hopes for Google, and a tremendous jump in Japan.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to The Friday Five: Five stats from the market and the stories behind them.

Joining me, as always, with The Friday Five is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser. Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: Thanks, Jason.

Stipp: So what do you have for The Friday Five this week?

Glaser: This week we're going to talk about 4%, 1.4%, minus 0.4%, 30%, and 15,000.

Stipp: 4% of GDP is the projected deficit this year from the CBO, and that is a big improvement.

Glaser: It is. The Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan group that works with Congress to crunch some of these numbers, says that we're going to see a deficit this year of 4% of GDP, down big from the 10.1% that we saw in 2009 at the height of the recession.

What's driving this is higher revenues from higher tax rates, an improving economy, less spending due to sequestration, and other cuts that the Congress has passed. And finally, some one-time issues, like Fannie and Freddie, are going to be paying more to the Treasury than expected thanks to the housing recovery.

The CBO thinks over the short term, deficits could shrink even more under current law. Right now, they are predicting 2.1% of GDP in 2015, below that 2.4%, which was the 40-year average before the recession, before 2008, and you should take that number with a huge grain of salt. The CBO moves these numbers around a lot, as we saw with this recent downgrade to 4%.

But I think it shows that in the short term, we have seen some pretty significant fiscal consolidation, but the long term still remains the open question. The CBO expects that over time, health-care costs in particular are really going to make that deficit explode again, and that's going to be potentially worrisome for the economy.

So the question is, now, can Washington take the slight lull and take the advantage of relatively low deficits and not having to worry about short-term issues as much to make some of those changes to entitlements to get the long-term spending under control and get the fiscal [situation] really on the right path for years to come. I'm not clear if that's going to happen or not, but even though we had an incredibly messy process to get to the short-term solution, it seems to have happened, and I think we can count on being able to come up with maybe not a grand way to do it, but maybe a messy process over the coming years in order to really get that long-term deficit under control, too.

Stipp: Something else that's coming down is same-store sales of Wal-Mart. Those are down 1.4%. Is this is a Wal-Mart story, or is this a consumer spending story?

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