Don't look now, but after years of congressional dogfights, the federal budget deficit is in pretty good shape. The deficit plummeted by more than a third in October, November, and December—the first three months of fiscal 2014—the Congressional Budget Office announced yesterday, Reuters reports. In fact, December actually saw the government run a $44 billion surplus, and while that was a one-time thing that, according to the LA Times, "resulted from some special circumstances," it's still a good sign.
From October to December of 2012, the government had a $293 billion deficit, compared to $182 billion this time around—even though 2012 saw a December revenue surge from wealthy individuals hoping to avoid a 2013 tax bump. About 40% of the improvement came from revenue gains, while the rest came from spending cuts. And if the economy continues to grow at its current rate, the deficit should keep declining all year. Indeed, some economists—including Ben Bernanke—have argued that it's falling too quickly, endangering that growth. (Read more budget deficit stories.)