Tuesday, June 15, 2010

6/15/10 Post

Targeting Energy Industry Advantages
President Obama has renewed his call to end or change several tax advantages for oil and gas companies in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. See what Obama proposes in his fiscal 2011 budget.
The nation is simply not building enough homes to keep up with the long-term run rate needed to meet the nation's natural population growth.
Employer health care costs to jump 9% in 2011
Companies that offer health plans will see their costs jump 9% in 2011, and most employees will pay higher deductibles as a result.
Net buying of long-term equities, notes and bonds totaled $83 billion in April.
Home builders' index dives after tax break expires
Pessimism among U.S. home builders grew in June after a tax break for home buyers expired. All three components of the index fell in June, and home builders were more discouraged in all four regions of the country
What happens if your state government shuts down?
States are facing the threat of shutdowns because of their financial situation. Governors and lawmakers have been reluctant to make cuts, particularly to education, health and social services, but have also been loath to raise taxes
Dollar Falls on Strong European Manufacturing Data
The dollar fell against the euro and other major currencies Monday as strong manufacturing data from Europe reassured investors
U.S. Data Indicate Slow Growth, Tame Inflation
The U.S. economy continues to expand at a gradual pace and inflation remains tame, data showed Tuesday, an environment that should make the Federal Reserve comfortable with keeping interest rates near zero.
Fed Weighs Growth Risks Officials Keep Fresh Eye on Slowing Inflation, Europe
Each tax signals a radical change in policy.
Giving in on Trading, Bankers Turn to Other Losses
Bankers are now focusing on battles like heading off a prohibition on derivatives trading.

Social Security in the Red
Social Security deficits have officially arrived. Social Security tax receipts for the first half of 2010: $346.9 billion; Social Security benefits payments same period: $347.3 billion.
Catching Up & Returned from Europe
Various things that came up while Arnold Kling was traveling…
NAHB Builder Confidence Declines Sharply in June
…any number under 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good.
…comments by St Louis Fed President James Bullard today were a little odd.
When the U.S. government overhauled welfare programs in the 1990s the primary goal was to promote work, but a new study suggests reform brought another unexpected benefit: reduced drug use.
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.
A Look inside the Fed’s Balance Sheet
Assets on the Fed’s balance sheet contracted a bit in the latest week, falling to $2.314 trillion from $2.318 trillion.

Book Excerpts
“To explain the modern global economy’s bottomless nut bowl, you must explain where the perpetual innovation machine and its increasing returns came from. They were not planned, directed, or ordered. They emerged, evolved, bottom up, from specialization and exchange. The accelerated exchange of ideas and people made possible by technology fueled the accelerating growth of wealth that has characterized the last century. Politicians, capitalists, and officials are flotsam bobbing upriver on the tide of invention.” –Matt Ridley, adapted from his book The Rational Optimist

Economists’ Comments & Opinions
Society needs prudent leaders and risk-taking error-prone followers; we got the opposite. –Nassim Taleb, Twitter
GSEs: $1 Trillion Dumping Ground for Bad Bank Loans
If everything goes precisely wrong, taxpayers are potentially on the hook for another $1 trillion bailout.
Immigration: What Would Reagan Do? The Gipper repeatedly declared that openness to immigration represents a defining aspect of our national identity.

“Did You Know?”
Under TARP, the government provided companies with about $384 billion. The Treasury Department reported last week that $194 billion, or slightly more than half, had been repaid.=150635

Graphic of the Day

The United States has a greater structural deficit than Greece
As expected, housing starts boomed in April as builders began 672,000 new homes.
See also: How Much the Average American Spending on Entertainment
VIDEO: The Job-Killing Impact of Minimum Wage Laws
VIDEO: Dealing with Deflation35

Economic Indicators