Friday, October 22, 2010

Budget News Oct. 18-22

Day of the long knives
The government has specified its spending cuts. Now it must implement them
Ireland Had Highest 2009 Euro-Area Budget Deficit as Greek Data Is Delayed
All 16 euro-region nations reported a shortfall last year, with Ireland at 14.4 percent of gross domestic product, revised from 14.3 percent in April, and Spain at 11.1 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today in its second budget report for 2009.

States Will Put Raters On Muni Hot Seat
Regulators who oversee some of the nation's biggest municipal-bond buyers will hold a hearing in November to assess whether bond ratings adequately reflect looming pension-fund and health-care costs for government workers.
Britain Plans Deepest Cuts to Spending in 60 Years
The British government on Wednesday unveiled the country’s steepest public spending cuts in more than 60 years, reducing costs in government departments by an average of 19 percent, sharply curtailing welfare benefits, raising the retirement age to 66 by 2020 and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs in an effort to bring down the bloated budget deficit.

Spending Review: Osborne wields axe
Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled the biggest UK spending cuts since World War II, with welfare, councils and police budgets all hit.

National Debt Up $3 Trillion on Obama's Watch
The National Debt stood at $10.626 trillion the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated. The Bureau of Public Debt reported today that the National Debt had hit an all time high of $13.665 trillion.
Deficit fighting: The first cut is the deepest
Even with all the willpower in the world, getting the annual deficit down to 3% of the economy by 2015 -- Obama's goal -- will be no mean feat. It could mean having to cut spending or raise taxes by $240 billion that year alone.
GOP May Face Shutdown Fight
...with the deficit running over $100 billion a month and the national debt already above $13.6 trillion, Treasury Department officials predicted earlier this month that they would need Congress to raise the debt limit again in the first or second quarter of 2011. A failure to raise the debt limit could result in a government shutdown, because the government could not borrow more money to operate.

EU Ministers Struggle over Budget Rules
European finance ministers locked horns Monday over stricter budget rules to avoid another government debt crisis as protests against spending cutbacks rattled France and Italy — a sign of the politically difficult choices ahead.
FY '10 continued torrent of federal red ink
September's deficit was $34.5 billion, and it brought the total deficit for fiscal year 2010, which ended Sept. 30, to $1.294 trillion — the second-highest total on record, behind 2009's staggering $1.416 trillion figure.
Sovereign Debt Default Risk
...default risk has fallen the most for Japan, China, Australia, Chile, and South Korea since July 2nd. It has risen for just four countries -- Egypt, Portugal, Ireland, and the US. Yep, the US has seen default risk rise 15.7% since the start of July, even as the equity market has performed well. Germany has the lowest default risk of all the countries shown.
Obama Administration Set to Announce Second Year of $1.3 Trillion Deficit
The Obama administration will announce it has exceeded the $1 trillion mark in the federal deficit -- predicted by Congress' research arm last week as $1.29 trillion -- for the second straight year as it projects an even larger gap between revenues and spending for fiscal year 2011.

Economist Comments
San Francisco's Public Pension Revolt
The city has cut back on almost every service: Summer schools have been shut, potholes deepen, parks close early, and services for the poor have been pared to the quick.
Fools Rush In Where Europe Rushes Out
All of these countries--and many more--are going through painful retrenchments because they spent too much money, made too many promises, and expected too little from their citizens. The era of European austerity is upon us, because the Europeans--or at least those in charge--understand the mess they've made of their economies.
Britain's 'Austerity' Lessons
What Margaret Thatcher can teach David Cameron—and the Republican Party.
Can Obama match Britain's guts on budget cuts?
Amid widespread frustration over government spending, US politicians should heed British Prime Minister David Cameron's frank talk on debt – and his plan to spend only what his government takes in.
Five Fiscal Policies To Reclaim Economy
Americans respond to incentives and disincentives. Higher costs of new regulations, the threat of higher tax rates embedded in the huge federal deficits and major increases in federal government control in this economy over the past 21 months have created major roadblocks for business creation, hiring and business expansion.

U.K. Cuts Invite Comparison With Thatcher
Helped by further economic reforms—including the privatization of public assets and deregulation of the financial sector—the U.K. entered a period of sustained growth.
British budget cuts: two big lessons for America
Only time will show whether severe budget cuts in Britain are too deep for that fragile economy to sustain. Even so, the political will to cut spending and the readiness to sacrifice sacred cows stand out as examples for America.
Why Britain's Age of Austerity Is So Important
At 70 percent, Britain's public debt to GDP ratio is no worse than healthier European economies like Germany and Austria. But when you look at public and private debt combined, the picture gets very bleak very quickly.

BACON: The once and future kingdom of austerity
I'm betting austerity will pay off for the United Kingdom. I can only pray that the United States can embrace serious cost-cutting before the gravitational tug of our massive debt pulls the economy into oblivion.
Examiner Editorial: Government's spending binge must be stopped
...create a Spending Realignment and Closure (SPRAC) commission to do for the federal budget what was done in the 1980s by the immensely successful Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) panel in closing unneeded military facilities.

BLANKLEY: Routing the regulators
Between 1978 and the late 1990s, under four presidents, real legislative efforts were taken to reduce some regulations by statute.
RAHN: A Congress of children
Children like to spend other people's money on themselves and their friends without thinking about how it was earned and the hard work that went into earning it.

Shamed By What America Owes
Barack Obama apparently never figured out that he had been elected in part because that massive Republican borrowing had sickened the American people. So in near-suicidal fashion, he took Bush's last scheduled budget deficit of more than $500 billion — in a Keynesian attempt to get the country out of the 2008 recession and financial panic — and nearly tripled it by 2010.
The Economist on the U.S. Pension Crisis
San Jose offers workers its own muncipal plan and according to Robert Novy Marx and Joshua Rauh, their unfunded liability is about $4 billion, or 321% of the city’s 2006 revenues

Size Really Does Matter
The direct control governments have over the size of their budgets also influences how fast their economies grow—as it turns out a bigger state really does translate into slower growth in developed countries.
The national debt problem is here
We have wasted plenty of money over the past few years on foolish and frequently unnecessary Federal spending programs. Though enormously wasteful, government stimulus spending pales by comparison with two programs Americans have been paying into for years–Medicare and Social Security
Unsustainable Spending Growth Hurts is not reasonable (and ultimately more painful) to bury one’s head in the sand and pretend that state and local government spending can continue to go on at its current pace.

U.S. Federal Spending for Higher Education Since 1962
How much does the federal government subsidize the cost of college in the United States?

Spending Is Choking Us And Tax Cuts Are No Heimlich Maneuver
The real impediment to economic growth is not taxes, but the government spending that makes high taxes necessary in the first place.
The False Choice Between a VAT and Impossible Spending Cuts’s worth pointing out that the VAT has not prevented gigantic deficits in nations such as Greece, Japan, Ireland, Spain, England, etc, etc. Politicians in those nations implemented VATs, usually with promises that the money would be used to reduce other taxes and/or lower red ink, but all that happened was more spending and bigger government...
Forget Keynes. Spending cuts don’t hurt the economy, they help it
...what most people value is not money itself but the things that money can buy. Government spending merely reallocates wealth, to the detriment of long-term wealth creation.
Chicago, Other Cities Face Huge Tab for Their Government Pensions
...Chicago has only about $22 billion in pension assets to pay for $66 billion in pension promises to its city workers, while New York City has $93 billion available to pay $215 billion in city pension promises, and Boston has only $3.5 billion available to pay $11 billion in promises.

Charitable Donations to the Government
Last year, the Bureau of the Public Debt received $3.1 million in such donations. Looking at the federal budget, I found a total of $241 million in “gifts and contributions” for fiscal year 2010.
The ‘New Normal’ Myth Calls For Ronald Reagan 2.0
If we get tax, regulatory, trade and currency policy right, today’s faddish notion of a new normal will quickly fade into the dustbin of history.

Another Year of Trillion-Dollar Deficits
To put these figures in perspective, the annual budget deficit between 1789 and 2008 never reached $500 billion. As a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP), the past two years’ deficits of 10.0 and 8.9 dwarf all other deficits since World War II.
Historic government spending by area: get the data back to 1948
Historic government spending has changed rapidly since the second world war - see how those priorities have altered
Number of the Week: Slow Growth Adds to Deficit
32%: The increase in U.S. government debt over the next five years if US economic growth stays as slow as it is now.
Spending Cuts: Possible But Not Probable
There's a ton of fat to cut -- such as per diem expense allowances for government employees -- but a list of programs on the chopping block is conspicuous in its absence.
Secondary Sources: National Debt, 2010 Taxes, Infrastructure as Stimulus
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.
Pelosi’s PAYGO Ploy: Budgetary Gimmick Provides Cover for Liberals
Four years after Democrats campaigned on the promise of using pay-as-you-go budgeting, their record is dismal. Since gaining control of Congress in 2007, they’ve gamed, ignored or employed PAYGO on 32 occasions to justify new spending or tax increases.

Government Size and Implications for Economic Growth
...where government size is measured as total taxes or total expenditure relative to gross domestic product (GDP), there is a negative correlation between government size and economic growth--where government size increases by 10 percentage points, annual growth rates decrease by 0.5 to 1 percent.

Making Budget Rules Work
...Congress faces two sets of problems, a commitment problem and an enforcement problem, that prevent well-meaning legislators from effecting change.

Employment News Oct. 18-22

Las Vegas unemployment reaches record 15 percent
Unemployment in Las Vegas reached a record 15% in August, up from 14.7% in August.
Unemployment rate drops in 23 states in September
Best showing in state jobless rates since June, but hiring remains weak.

Jobless claims fall, but still stuck
There were 452,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Oct. 16, down 23,000 from an upwardly revised 475,000 the previous week, according to the Labor Department's weekly report.
Hot air? White House takes credit for Bush-era wind farm jobs
Administration claims 50,000 jobs created, but many projects were completed before funds were handed out.
Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment at 10.0% in Mid-October
Unemployment is essentially the same as the 10.1% at the end of September.
For some, jobless benefits trump a job
Work sometimes pays less than benefits in such a weak job market.

Americans have a role in recovery
Americans can help the recovery along by saving more than in the past, but also by spending responsibly in proportion to income, one of President Obama's top economic advisers said Tuesday.

Jobless benefits about to crash
With no end in sight to the nation's high unemployment, the government program to help the jobless is heading for a crash.
Territories snared in wage debate
Hill backpedals on minimum pay rate for Samoa, Marianas.

Texas bests California in jobs, economic rivalry
When it comes to job growth, Texas has once again defeated economic rival California, according to research released at the end of last week by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit free-market research institute
Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment at 10.0% in Mid-October
Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is at 10.0% in mid-October -- essentially the same as the 10.1% at the end of September but up sharply from 9.4% in mid-September and 9.3% at the end of August.
Joblessness Spurs Trans-Atlantic Divide on Policy
Policy makers at the European Central Bank face the same high unemployment and slow growth that dogs their friends across the Atlantic at the Federal Reserve. But don't expect the ECB to follow the Fed in taking extraordinary measures to try to get things moving again
Economy takes toll on retail employment
Getting a job as a store clerk has long ranked among the most common ways to make ends meet when times get tough. Now, it's getting tough to find work in retail.

Economists Comments
Top Ten Ways Government Kills Jobs in America
Our politicians all seem to agree on at least one thing: There will be no recovery unless America gets back to work.

Shovel-Ready White Elephants
It took 410 days to build the Empire State Building, four years to erect the Golden Gate Bridge. The Pentagon took a year and a half, the Alaska Highway just nine months. These days it takes longer to build an overpass.

Republican Congress means more jobs
What voters have been saying — to incumbents and challengers alike since early 2009 — is that the top job for the president and Congress is jobs. Voters want elected officials to focus, above all, on jobs and the economy.

Don’t Mess With Texas; Learn From It
While the United States struggles to escape a recession — and California is plagued with a massive fiscal crisis — there is one outlier posting big job growth numbers, all while keeping taxes low and government small: Texas.
Austerity Debate, Unemployed Older Workers, Reserve Currency
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.

Renewable Electricity Standards Kill Jobs Too
Cap and trade legislation is dead. The left abandoned the policy this summer when it became clear it was a liability. But that doesn’t mean the left has abandoned plans to hike up our nation’s energy costs in a vain attempt to save the world. All they did was pick a new a set of government mandates and repackage it as Renewable Electricity Standards (RES). Don’t be fooled. The goal (reducing emissions) and mechanism (raising energy prices) are still the same. As is the result: millions of lost jobs at a time when unemployment already is hovering around 10%.
Beige Book: Where Are the Jobs?
The Fed’s latest beige book report on the state of the economy indicates continued struggles in the labor market. Here are some takeaways on jobs from the regional reports.
Secondary Sources: Google’s Taxes, Minimum Wage, Fed and Inflation
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.

Shovel Ready or Not
stimulus spending is only effective if it is timely and targeted toward high-valued projects. But by its very nature, government cannot determine which projects are high-valued in a timely manner. We can get timely, or high-value. But as Eileen told the Washington Post in February of 2009, “you can’t have both.”
Secondary Sources: Entitlements, City Employment, Seinfeldonomics
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.

2010 Census: Final Weekly Payroll Update
The Census Bureau has released the final weekly payroll report for the 2010 Census. The report shows only 2,766 temporary workers were on the payroll for the week ending Oct 2nd.
Obama's Almost Contradiction
Obama admits there's no such thing as a "shovel-ready project" even though a huge part of the argument for the 2009 increase in domestic spending was that it would go to "shovel-ready projects."

Unemployment And The Dollar
The big news this morning is about the decline of the dollar, but to understand why that is happening one needs to look at unemployment and today’s jobless report explains a lot.

Regional and State Employment and Unemployment- August 2010
Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in August. Twenty-seven states recorded unemployment rate increases, 13 states registered rate decreases, and 10 states and the District of Columbia had no rate change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Arkansas Industrial Jobs Declined 9% Over the Past Two Years
Industrial employment in Arkansas fell 9% over the past two years, according to the 2011 Arkansas Manufacturers Register, an industrial directory published annually by Manufacturers' News, Inc. (MNI) Evanston, IL. MNI reports Arkansas lost 20,309 manufacturing jobs over the past two years.

Monetary News Oct. 18-22

Greece's Debt Swaps Signal Threat of Imminent Default Easing: Euro Credit
Credit-default swaps protecting Greek government bonds for a year cost 565 basis points, 61 basis points less than 10-year protection, according to CMA in London.
Sentance Says U.K. Recovery `Encouraging,' Needs Interest-Rate Increase
Bank of England policy maker Andrew Sentance said the recovery in U.K. manufacturing is “encouraging” and repeated his call for a “gradual” increase in interest rates from a record low.

Geithner's Goal: Rebalanced World Economy
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he would use weekend meetings of G-20 finance ministers to advance efforts to "rebalance" the world economy so it is less reliant on U.S. consumers, to move toward establishing "norms" on exchange-rate policy, and to persuade others the U.S. doesn't aim to devalue its way to prosperity.
New York Fed Faces `Inherent Conflict' in Mortgage Buybacks
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s effort to recover taxpayer money used in bailouts during the crisis may be at odds with its mission to ensure the stability of the financial system.

Asian markets fall on China interest rate hike
This is classic risk aversion from a market that was overdone.
U.S. Should Focus on Deficit, Not More Stimulus
U.S. policy makers should focus on deficit reduction rather than an economic-stimulus package or additional bond purchases by the Federal Reserve.
Medley says Fed to buy $500 bln in US debt
The Federal Reserve plans to launch a program to buy $500 billion worth of U.S. Treasuries over six months but leave itself room for more buying, said a report from influential consultancy Medley Global Advisors
Australia Urges Market-Based Exchange Rates
Australia wants to see all countries move to market-based exchange rates, including China, Treasurer Wayne Swan said Wednesday ahead of a weekend meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers in South Korea.
Short-term Treasury Yields Near Record Lows
Until the midterm elections, Fed meeting and payrolls report in the first week of November, "strap in for a bumpy and aimless ride." Yields on 2-year notes , which move inversely to prices, slipped 1 basis point to 0.35%, after against touching the all-time low of 0.33%.
Will the Federal Reserve Cause a Civil War?
Novermber 3rd is when the Federal Reserve's next policy committee meeting ends, and if you thought this was just another boring money meeting you would be wrong. It could be the most important meeting in the Federal Reserve's history.
European growth to be weaker next year: IMF
Citing that Europe is recovering from its deepest recession in the post-war period, the Fund said on Wednesday that regional GDP will rise by 2.3 percent in 2010 and 2.2 percent in 2011.European economy had contracted 4.6 percent in 2009.
Why a weak dollar is no strategy for economic growth
"The falling dollar could boost exports and help American multi-nationals compete abroad. But any impact it has on earnings won't be enough to boost the overall economy."
U.S. and China Play Politics Over Economy
China's central bank sent tremors through global financial markets today by announcing that it will raise its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point, a move that is certain to complicate its dispute with the United States and many other countries over its trade and currency policies
N.Y. Fed seeking money back from BofA
Investors reportedly want bank to buy back $47 billion in securities.
Berlin's Quest for Tough Euro Zone Rules Has 'Failed Spectacularly'
Germany has caved in to France on the reform of the euro zone's Stability Pact by agreeing to jettison plans for automatic sanctions against countries that breach budget rules. The EU is in danger of breaking its promise to get its house in order in the wake of the Greek crisis, say German commentators.
Officials hint Fed on the verge of more easing
A string of Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday indicated the central bank will soon offer further monetary stimulus to the economy, with one saying $100 billion a month in bond buys may be appropriate.

EU nations reach deal on tighter hedge fund rules
The deal would involve a so-called "passport" under which funds that are approved in one country would eventually have acess to investors in other EU countries.
Canada leaves rate unchanged
Canada's central bank is leaving its key interest rate unchanged after three consecutive rate hikes. The Bank of Canada left its benchmark at 1 % on Tuesday.
World Bank raises outlook for East Asia, warns of bubbles
This year, East Asia's gross domestic product is expected to rise 8.9%, up 0.2 percentage points from the bank's previous estimate in April, but then slow to a 7.8% increase in 2011 as governments unwind stimulus measures and growth in developed economies remains flat.
Geithner: 'The economy is definitely healing.'
Geitherner's central message: The Obamam administration's policies, enacted in response to the nation's worst economic crisis since the 1930s, are working. Fast, decisive action to address the banking industry crisis and the recession "with overwhelming financial force," succeeded in averting economic catastrophe.
New York Fed Chief Says the Economy is Garbage
In recent months, the momentum of the recovery has slowed. For example, after rising at a 3.25 percent annual rate during the second half of 2009, there has been a progressive slowing—to a 2.75 percent annual rate during the first half of 2010 and, most likely, to an even slower rate when the third-quarter real gross domestic product (GDP) figures are released at the end of this month."
Greek crisis requires massive reforms
Nobel laureate and Washington University economist propose herculaneum overhaul.
Regulator warns of US farm asset bubble
The next asset bubbles with potential to endanger the US financial system are in farm property and Treasury bonds, a leading regulator has warned.
U.S. economic fix: print money
"The U.S. Federal Reserve hinted last weekend it would pursue another round of quantitative easing, effectively printing more money, in an effort to stimulate its economy and reduce the likelihood of deflation.
Regional Fed governmor warns policy could spur economic bubbles
During visit to Oklahoma, Federal Reserve official Thomas Hoenig continues to voice his dissent with the Fed's current monetary policy, and worries that keeping interest rates artificially low could eventutally cause more economic damage.
Debt and inequality: Why China and US must both change their ways
The clash between the US and China has led to a global economic imbalance that threatens peace and prosperity. The two powerhouses must stop finger pointing and start fundamentally reforming from the inside out.

What exactly is a currency war, anyway?
Currency volatility is certainly a problem, but no one's quite sure if we'll know when it becomes a full-blown war.
IMF chief warns recovery 'in peril'
The head of the IMF on Monday warned central bankers that the global recovery would be "in peril" if the world's major economies do not keep working together, amid mounting fears of a currency war.
Dollar Declines for Fifth Week on Prospects of More Monetary Easing by Fed
The U.S. currency dropped this week to a 15-year low against the yen and fell to parity with the Australian and Canadian dollars before next week’s Fed report on regional economies.
WRAPUP 1-Two Fed officials favor aggressive easing options
Two top Federal Reserve officials argued for further aggressive action by the central bank, with one saying the economy needs "much more" help and the other pointing to Japan's painful lessons.
Bernanke Gives Strong Indication Fed Will Act
Just how much money the Fed will inject into the economy remains uncertain, and Bernanke gave no indication of a figure in his address. He did note some risks to embarking on another round of quantitative easing, including worries that the Fed would have a difficult time extricating itself when it wanted to tighten monetary policy again.
Bernanke: Fed prepared to act to boost economy
The Federal Reserve is prepared to take new action to boost the economy, its chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said Friday morning, because inflation has been too low of late and unemployment is poised to come down too slowly.

Economists Comments
Time to Sell America's Family Silver?
Coping with the economic consequences will be challenging enough but, as we’ve seen from the threatened outbreak of “currency wars,” the political implications are far more awkward.

America's 'Plan' to Destabilize China
This isn't the first time America has used currency as a secret weapon to destabilize China. In the early 1930s, China was still on the silver standard and the United States was not. Accordingly, the Chinese yuan-U.S. dollar exchange rate was determined by the U.S. dollar price of silver.
What Does It Take for U.S. to Avoid Stagnation?
For the U.S. economy, he calls for reversing the explosion of the national debt, pro-growth tax reform, “a serious turnaround in our banking system” and care at the Federal Reserve to avoid hyperinflation.
Latest Fed Report Won't Alter Course to Monetary Expansion
In short, there's still a recovery underway, it's just really, really slow. This is the narrative that Fed economists have heard several times since last spring. So if they were planning to engage in a new quantitative easing program before, then they probably still are now.
QE2? Not QED.
Why most economists are not hopeful about "quantitative easing," the Fed's latest idea to help the economy.
What Would Milton Friedman Say About Fed Policy Under Bernanke?
However, Friedman's views may not be well understood even by those who would claim him as their intellectual fountainhead — which could be problematic for policy-making. So what would Milton Friedman say about our current monetary policy?
Parsing the arguments against new stimulus
At a minimum, we need to acknowledge up front the limited potential of QE2 and be prepared to admit when it has accomplished all it can. Options for limiting the commitment include targeting the 2- or 3-year Treasury yield or announcing an exit strategy based on a particular level for the core PCE...

Will the markets tank in November?
Stocks took a nasty tumble Tuesday after the People's Bank of China surprised investors with its first interest rate hike in nearly three years.
Quantitative Easing Is Only Show in Town
Central bankers would like to be able to get back to business as usual where they change the price of money rather than its quantity. That day seems a long way off on both sides of the Atlantic.
Fed Wants to Hoodwink Public, Only Fools Itself
Central bankers in the U.S. are being bombarded with market-based signals suggesting their fears of deflation, or falling economy-wide prices, may be misplaced.
China Hides Rampant Inflation in Money Binge
Money, money everywhere. At least that’s what it feels like at the moment in China. Awash in luxury cars, condos and expensive jewelry, the Chinese are enjoying what looks to be an unstoppable boom.
Bonds Face New Negativity in Ballot-Box Backlash
Americans going to the polls on Nov. 2 will be asked to vote on congressional representatives, senators, governors, treasurers, state lawmakers, tax initiatives and $16.8 billion in municipal bonds.
Fed Ignores Gold, Targets Higher Inflation And Plays With Fire
After years of resisting a target of stable prices, the Fed is now promoting actual inflation.
Fumbling towards a truce
The first of three pieces on currency tensions looks at a possible path to peace
Bernanke's Inflation Target Misses the Mark
The more latitude the Fed has to try to spur economic growth, the more economic uncertainty there will be.
Expected QE matters more than static QE:
Some Fed hands thinking $100B/mo for a while.

Secondary Sources: Underwater Mortgages, Small Business Lending, Currency Battle
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.
Fed Is Monitoring Mortgage Foreclosure Process
The leader of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York addressed the ongoing saga of mortgage foreclosures, saying “the Federal Reserve actively encourages efforts to find viable alternatives to foreclosure, like loan modifications, or deeds in lieu.

Trichet and His Possible Replacement Feud Over Monetary Policy
Implications regarding the valuation of the US dollar versus the euro are at stake.
Time for freely floating exchange rates
The longer additional currency flexibility is resisted, the greater will be global financial volatility and associated resource misallocation. One hopes we don't have to endure 14 months of currency turmoil as we did after December 1971.
The Case for Quantitative Easing
Vincent Reinhart, of the American Enterprise Institute, argues the Federal Reserve should resume its purchases of Treasury securities to jump-start the economy.
No Fix in Quantitative Easing
Bond Buying Will Keep Yields Low but Is Unlikely to Spur the Economy.
QE2 and Rising Markets: Where Can Investors Find Real Value?
Don't be seduced by rising securities and commodities prices into thinking that all's well.
Five Ways More Fed Easing Could Make Things Worse
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took another step toward signaling further monetary stimulus Friday, but in doing so left one key issue unanswered: What if all this intervention causes more harm than good?

Federal Reserve: Economic Prognosticators Or “Just Winging It”?
Two years ago this month the Fed projected our Unemployment Rate for 2010 would fall somewhere between 6.5 to 7.3%. A mere few months later, they had revised that range to 8.0 to 8.3%. What might they think now about those calls given our current Unemployment Rate of 9.6% and likely massively manipulated at that?
Good for the goose
Ultimately, I think nations must attempt to maximise their economic performance subject to existing institutional constraints, while remembering that institutions can be changed, albeit slowly.
Concerns Overseas About Quantitative Easing
In Korea, the discussions about further quantitative easing has given fuel to discussion of some capital controls.

Federal Reserve Paychecks Soar
Now the really interesting question is whether they have automatic inflation adjustments to their salaries. They are going to need them.
Fed’s Plosser: Bad Incentives Drove Much of Financial Crisis
“The financial crisis was not a failure of our capitalist system,” Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser said. “Nor was it largely the result of a lot of greedy evildoers whom we could just put in jail to solve the problem.”

Federal Reserve Bank Pay Soars
The public is concerned that governments are providing excessively generous compensation to their workers. Attention has focused on the high salaries and benefits of federal civilian employees and the often lavish pensions paid to state and local workers.
We Are All Protectionists, Right?
All national policies affect the exchange rate of the national currency. The relevant question is one of relative effects and degrees.
Fed's Lockhart: QE2 is an "insurance policy" against further disinflation
In my view, the decision is not clear cut. We policymakers have to weigh these arguments pro and con, potential costs versus benefits, and competing risks. As I said earlier, I am leaning in favor of additional monetary stimulus while acknowledging the longer-term risks the policy may present.
Fed’s Fisher: Outcome of Coming Meeting Is Not Settled
Wall Street may think otherwise, but it is not yet a settled matter the Federal Reserve will provide additional support to a weak economy,

It is folly to place all our trust in the Fed
Traditionally, monetary authorities focus policy around setting the short-term government interest rate. But, leaving aside the fact that with interest rates near zero there is little room for manoeuvre, the impact on the real economy of changes in the interest rate remains highly uncertain.
Look to Emerging Markets as the Federal Reserve Diminishes the Dollar
The dollar has been on a one-way elevator ride to the ground floor since August, when U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke first warned that quantitative easing was on the horizon.
Fed: We're in a Liquidity Trap That Must Be Cured by Inflation
Quantitative easing won't save the economy, but it will create inflation. Ultimately, though, we'll experience stagflation instead of the desired robust real economic growth.
QE2: Like Pushing Water With a Fork?
Bernanke says inflation is too low, but there's more than meets the eye.
Bob Hall on Quantitative Easing
With quantitative easing, the Fed borrows short and lends long. So the Treasury could do the same thing by issuing less longterm debt and more short term debt. So he does not undestand why quantitative easing is anything to get excited about.
Hungary Still Lacks A Coherent Economic Policy
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s much-awaited speech in Parliament Monday, which was to outline the new government’s second economic action plan, was a disappointment. It failed to prove that Hungary has a coherent economic policy for the coming years, with well thought-out plans for the most pressing fiscal issues.

Bernanke Prices in QE2 as Decline in Yields Stalls
The Fed is is fueling commodity speculation, which leads to inflation, as Main Street struggles with reduced incomes and a higher cost of living.
Fed Is Fooling Itself With Inflation Targets
Bernanke is risking another set of destructive bubbles.
China Uneasy with Quantitative Easing Prospect.
Chinese commentators are starting to show unease at the increasingly likely prospect that the U.S. Federal Reserve will relaunch a program of buying bonds to push down interest rates. And no wonder: Even before it has actually started, such so-called quantitative easing is complicating the nation’s continued effort to manage its currency.
Up, Up and Away (Again)
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is pushing for another significant round of “quantitative easing” – now dubbed “QE2” by Fed observers – on the grounds that the economy’s response to stimulative macro policies since 2008 has been anemic.
Guest Contribution: Myron Scholes on Whether QE2 Will Work.
Myron Scholes, the Nobel Prize-winning retired Stanford University finance economist, contemplates the prospects for another round of Federal Reserve quantitative easing, and wonders if it’ll work as well as the Fed hopes.
Choosing Inflation, Redux
After all, the main motivating factor behind the Fed's strategy of higher inflation is still its desire to increase the relative prices of everything else with respect to U.S. housing prices as a way of arresting their fall, which is evident from the nation's growing foreclosure crisis.
Bernanke Let Down?
Much of the econo-sphere seems displeased with Bernanke’s speech at the Boston Fed. Brad Delong sees it as very bad. David Beckworth is disappointed. Krugman sees a central bank that is still turning Japanese.
Atlanta’s Lockhart: Fed Should Provide ‘Certainty’
The whole theme of uncertainty is really very prominent in the minds” of Fed officials and quantitative easing could help alleviate the problem.
Parsing Bernanke: Takeaways From Boston Speech.
The takeaways:Unemployment is way too high, inflation is too low, the first round of bond buying — aka Quantitative Easing — worked and the Fed is thinking about publicly pledging to keep short term rates near zero for a REALLY long time.
Big Ben: What He Said and What it Means for the Markets
The S&P emerges as a government sponsored entity.
Time to go to work.
With a new round of monetary easing probably,every little utterance out of the leaders of the Fed's Open Market Committee is heavily scrutinised. Today it was the Chairman, Ben Bernanke's turn to set tongues wagging.
The wrong sort of inflation
Terrified by memories of the 1930s and Japan’s more recent experience in 1990s and 2000s, the academics who now dominate the Federal Open Market Committee display a hyperactive compulsion to tinker with monetary policy in a bid to solve all the problems besetting the U.S. economy.

Currency Wars: Misguided US Economic Policy
The critical issues in America stem from minimally a blatantly ineffective public policy, but overridingly a failed and destructive Economic Policy.

Tax News Oct. 18-22

Despite State Tax Credit California Home Sales Decline
California home sales declined more than 17% in September on a year-ago basis according to a San Diego-based real estate research firm.

America's Best Days
Only 25% Prefer a Government With More Services, Higher Taxes
Cash-strapped governments ramping up tax-collection efforts
Together, Washington-area localities are owed more than $40 million in overdue real estate taxes from fiscal 2010 alone. Additional millions in unrecovered fines, fees and personal property tax revenues compound those shortfalls.
Tax dreams of drug decriminalization
Supporters of legalization claim that treating marijuana like other legal vices – for example, tobacco and alcohol — could generate $1.4 billion in badly needed new tax revenue for California. This is more than alcohol and tobacco cigarette taxes, combined, now generate.

State Tax Revenue in U.S. May Increase Third Straight Quarter, Study Shows
Even with three quarters of gains, state revenue was still 15 percent lower in the second quarter than during the same period in 2008, according to the report. For the year ending in June, which corresponds to the budget years in most states, tax collections dropped by $19 billion, or 2.7 percent, from the prior year and were down $84 billion from 2008.

From Obama, the Tax Cut Nobody Heard Of
What if a president cut Americans’ income taxes by $116 billion and nobody noticed?
Companies in appeal for US tax amnesty
JPMorgan research estimates that 30-40 per cent of the almost $1,000bn in cash held by non-financial S&P 500 companies is in foreign jurisdictions.

White House Stands by Call for Tax Hike on Wealthy
David Axelrod, the president's senior adviser, said Sunday that the Obama administration still wants the tax cuts extended for middle-class families making up to $250,000.
Has Obama Raised Taxes? That Depends on Whom You Ask
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) point to the cost of Obama's health care legislation as proof that the president has violated his pledge not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 and on individuals earning less than $200,000.

Economist Comments
Obama, Tax Hikes, Foreclosures and Downward Spirals
I have long said that raising taxes in a down economy is like throwing a drowning man an anchor. Given Obama’s “don’t need it” view, you can amend that to say “it’s like throwing a drowning man an anchor and telling him to swim harder.”
U.S. Debt Is Child Abuse: Laurence Kotlikoff, Richard Munroe
Two tax hikes were passed this year and another is likely. These new taxes are supposedly being levied just on the rich. But over time, they will hit most of our kids. And they are just the beginning of our children’s and grandchildren’s tax trauma, given Congress’s inability to curb spending.
The IRS’s Tax Rate on Google’s Foreign-Source Income Is 2.4 Percentage Points Too High
...the bigger issue is that the IRS should not be taxing economic activity that occurs outside U.S. borders. This is a matter of sovereignty and good tax policy.

An Unthinkable Tax Code
Today, with shrinking the federal budget deficit ever more urgent, politicians are unlikely to get rid of the income tax and replace it with the VAT. Instead, as has happened in European countries, they are talking about keeping the income tax and layering the VAT on top of it.

The Overseas Profits Elephant in the Room
There's a trillion dollars waiting to be repatriated if tax policy is right.
EDITORIAL: The Democrats' tax burden
Mr. Cooper's subtext was that the president ought to get more credit for his beneficence. What the article failed to grasp is that Mr. Obama doesn't deserve any gratitude for minimal tax cuts when his policies are responsible for dramatically raising taxes much more.
The Small Business Myth
When the government tries to help small businesses, it hurts businesses (and taxpayers) of all sizes.
Tax Reform, Her Majesty's Style
At least the president hasn't suggested that we all send our salaries to the IRS, which would then send back to us however much it believed to be appropriate.

Will Congress Take a Pass on the Estate Tax and Send Us Back to 2001?
According to The Hill newspaper "one issue is how to stop the estate tax from returning to pre-2001 levels, which means estates worth more than $1 million are hit with a tax that could be as high as 55 percent."
Tax Increase Would Kill Economic Growth, Jobs
According to the Treasury Department, 8 percent of small businesses earn enough to pay at the top two income-tax rates, but those businesses earn 72 percent of all small-business income. They also pay 82 percent of all income taxes paid by small businesses.
Better tax treatment would help free trapped cash
If $600bn already at hand domestically, an extremely favourable debt market and ultra-low interest rates haven’t done it so far, the issue is clearly not money but fear of the uncertain economic outlook.
Washington State's Union Tax
Bill Gates Sr. supports a state income tax on wealthy Washingtonians, but public unions are the real muscle behind the initiative.
The Story of the 1990s Economy’s worth taking a brief look at the actual engine of 1990s growth: improved productivity in information technology (IT) manufacturing and increased investment in IT equipment. The research examining the IT-led expansion from 1995-2000 shows it to be a unique and surprisingly unanticipated event that has no bearing on the tax decisions confronting Congress today.

KNIGHT: Reinter the death tax
The death tax was reduced to zero this year but will lurch from its grave on Jan. 1 and haunt small businesses worth $1 million or more. The 55 percent rate, if not repealed, will destroy many family-owned enterprises.
Canada vs. U.S.: Where to set up shop
The S&P/TSX is trading at two-year highs, large corporations are flush with cash, Canadian trade with most parts of the world is up and consumers are spending on big-ticket items. So what's missing in Canada's economic recovery? Many experts will tell you a rebound in small- and medium-sized business activity.

The Deservedly Forgettable Obama Tax Cuts
The Obama tax cuts were not productive tax cuts. While Cooper does mention that Americans were allowed to take home slightly higher paychecks, he also completely fails to mention that the policy is temporary.
A 60% Estate Tax Rate Could Be Around The Corner
What’s the true federal estate tax rate next year? Anywhere from 41% to 60% depending how much you’re worth when you die, and bizarrely it’s not the wealthiest who are stuck paying the top 60% rate.
Hoover, FDR and Clinton Tax Increases: A Brief Historical Lesson
The obvious reason to prevent a tax hike by extending current tax rates is that doing so will prevent further economic harm to an already flat economy. How do we know that tax increases will cause economic harm? Three examples: 1932, 1937 and 1993.

Americans Prefer Social Security Upper Income Benefit Reductions to Tax Hikes
...63% of Americans said they would support those spending cuts. On the contrary, 64% of Americans thought it was a bad idea to increase Social Security taxes for all workers.
NFIB calls for action on Bush tax cuts
The organization states that 75 percent of small businesses are taxed as individuals and will be negatively affected by the tax increase scheduled to occur on Jan 1.

Taxhiker in Chief Takes On Social Security
In 2010, the first $106,800 of wage income is subject to the 12.4 percent Social Security tax. The president wants to lift the cap, effectively raising the top federal income tax rate on labor income to 53.2 percent.
Then and Now, Taxes
"In 2010-dollar terms, the “astonishing” tax year with the highest federal revenues – 1963 – Uncle Sam’s receipts totaled $756 billion. During the period 2000 through 2009, the year with the lowest federal revenues – 2009 – Uncle Sam’s receipts totaled $2.1 trillion – or 178 percent more real revenues than in 1963."

A Clever British Campaign against Higher Capital Gains Tax Rates
With Obama pushing for higher capital gains rate in America, it’s important to find the most persuasive ways of educating people about the damage of class-warfare tax policy.
Can You Name the Greatest President of the Past 100 Years?
"Coolidge’s commitment to low taxes came from his concept of property rights. He viewed heavy taxation as the legalization of expropriation."
The IRS, College Tax Credits and Congress’ Plain Writing Hypocrisy
The truth is, the IRS can’t produce forms, instructions, publications or tax returns understandable to ordinary Americans so long as the politicians keep piling on temporary and permanent credits, deductions and gotchas that make the tax code both erratic and nearly impossible to explain, understand or administer.
Raising Taxes Won’t Stimulate the Economy
...even if tax hikes on high earners did occur, the revenue generated would be lower than expected as a result of reduced economic growth. CDA’s simulation shows that the President’s plan would generate only 34 percent of the revenue predicted by the CBO’s static model.
Secondary Sources: Value Added Tax, Rich Spending, Trade Risks
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.
How Many Times Should We Rebate Payroll Taxes for Low Earners?
Over at e21, Chuck Blahous—the Bush White House’s point man on Social Security and now a public Trustee for Social Security and Medicare—discusses a Social Security reform proposal from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is designed as a middle-ground plan that could achieve some level of consensus on reform
What’s the Biggest Tax Mistake That Might Be Made This Year? A Freakonomics Quorum
Consider the ingredients: a frail economy, a toxic political environment, looming hard deadlines and massive uncertainty in the business community — the perfect circumstances under which to write some great federal tax policy!


Family Tax Returns in Doubt As Expiration Approaches for Bush and Obama Tax Cuts: Three Likely Policy Scenarios
Here we clarify the impact for taxpayers by calculating the tax bills of several hypothetical families in 2011 under the three likeliest policy scenarios.

Health Care News Oct. 18-22

Key health insurance group to weigh in on spending
A seven-month-long process for determining how much U.S. health insurers must spend on medical care comes to a head on Thursday, amid fresh concerns that the rules will lead companies to desert some small-group and other niche markets.

U.S. Files Suit Against Michigan Blue Cross
The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan alleging the health insurer violated antitrust laws by forcing hospitals to charge higher rates to other insurers.
Conn. Insurance Increase Gets HHS' Attention
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday put Connecticut insurance officials on notice for allegedly failing to use federal grants to scrutinize a proposed insurance rate increase, but the state's insurance department says they have not received the money to begin enhanced review efforts.

Select Democrats embrace health care law
After weeks of avoiding health care overhaul on the campaign trail, some Democrats are out bragging about the law in the final run-up to the mid-term elections.
Nixing — or 'fixing' — health law? Don't hold your breath
'Repeal' or 'reforming' health care bill would face legislative, policy hurdles
New rule could send some insurers packing
"Industry experts say more insurers will drop health care coverage or go out of business if they are forced to meet a Jan. 1 deadline that requires them to boost the money devoted to providing care.
Obesity costs U.S. $168 billion, study finds
Nearly 17% of U.S. medical costs can be blamed on obesity, according to new research that suggests the nation's weight problem may be having close to twice the impact on medical spending as previously estimated.

Poll: Support for health reform dips
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation October Tracking Poll out Monday morning, overall support for the law has dropped to 42 percent – down seven points in a month. The percentage of those saying they have an unfavorable view of the bill rose four points to 44 percent.
Democrats on health reform: Let us fix it
Nervous Democrats are grasping for a new message on their party’s health care reform bill: Give us another shot, and we’ll get it right this time.
Judge lets states' health care suit go forward
U.S. states can proceed with a lawsuit seeking to overturn President Barack Obama's landmark health care reform law, a Florida judge ruled Thursday.
Judge disses Dems' 'Alice in Wonderland' health defense
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson allowed two major counts to proceed: the states’ challenge to the controversial requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance and a required expansion of the Medicaid program.

Economist Comments
Obamacare's Unkeepable Promises
Utopian vision was a fraud from the beginning.

What If the Courts Strike Down Health Care Reform?
A federal judge is hearing arguments that health care reform violates the constitution. In particular, states are challenging the requirement for individuals to buy health insurance. How key is this requirement for the entire law? How nervous should reformers be?
The Amazing Elastic Commerce Clause
The individual health insurance mandate tugs on an overstretched federal power.
A Better Way Than the VA?
If you listen to Democratic campaign ads in Colorado, Nevada, or Delaware, among other places, you will discover yet another perfidious plot by evil Republicans — they want to "privatize the VA." But is a government-run system really the only — or the best — way to provide that care?

Putting the brakes on health insurers
Obama should forbid premium hikes until the companies comply with pricing provisions of the new federal law.
Enemies of Obamacare Should Curb Their Enthusiasm: Ann Woolner
A federal judge in Pensacola, Florida, gave enemies of the national health care reform law reason to rejoice last week when he d it looks sort of unconstitutional. "The ruling is a victory for the states, small businessess and the American People."
ObamaCare, for Some
Over the last several weeks the Health and Human Services Department has granted dozens of temporary waivers to certain ObamaCare mandates so that insurers and businesses won't drop or cancel coverage.

Old Stealing from Young under Obama's 'Reforms'
The Congressional Budget Office projects a mid-century public debt of $123 trillion, largely driven by health care and retirement costs.
Feulner: From self-reliance to servitude
Are Americans, who have long prided themselves on their freedom and self-reliance, becoming more dependent on government, or less?
ObamaCare will clog system
The kind of insurance the new law mandates will, over the years, wear out the health care system in the same way that overuse in orthopedics wears out an elbow or knee joint. This won't be fun for doctors or, most important, for patients.

Saving & Goodman: Obama murdered Medicare
The health care reform law enacted in spring will have a devastating impact on elderly and disabled Medicare enrollees if its provisions are not substantially changed.
Killing Marcus Welby
The only way health plans can improve their profits is by cheapening the product that they provide, in other words, holding down the cost of the health coverage that they offer.
Lies, Damn Lies and the ObamaCare Sales Pitch
Can the White House effort to defend ObamaCare get any more frantic, not to say desperate?
Williams: Obamacare is killing recovery
The health care reform legislation is already causing a substantial increase in medical insurance premiums. We are also finding expensive provisions in this act that we did not know were there, including a hidden 3.8 percent tax on the sale of certain residential real estate and a burdensome Internal Revenue Service filing requirement on small businesses.
Editorial: In Obamacare Wonderland
Legal arguments for Obamacare's individ -ual mandate fail the "Alice in Wonder- land" test and the duck test. In two court challenges to the law in the past 11 days and a court hearing today on a third, the Obama administration's legal position is fading faster than the Cheshire Cat.
A Significant Victory In the Fight Against Obamacare
Americans who own and run their own small businesses understand better than anyone the importance of limited government for prosperity and liberty. So, when Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration decided that they had the power to force every American citizen to buy health insurance the National Federation of Independent Business moved quickly to oppose this unprecedented and profoundly unconstitutional claim of power.

Obamacare Hurts Low-Income Workers
With a struggling economy and stagnant unemployment rate, the last thing the United States needs is any public policy that will hurt job growth. Unfortunately, Obamacare’s new federally mandated, essential benefits package will diminish new job opportunities, especially for low-income workers.
Government Intervention in Health Care Increases Costs
Yesterday, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) released its annual report on health insurance mandates in the states. They report that mandated benefits—i.e., medical procedures that states require insurance providers to cover—across the 50 states are on the rise, jumping from 2,133 in 2009 to 2,156 in 2010. But that’s just part of the story.

Washington State Regulator Can’t Prevent ObamaCare from Destroying Child-Only Market
The child-only market is toast.
Anti-Obamacare Rulings a Trend or Just Coincidence?
I’m fond of saying that lawsuits don’t proceed at Internet speed — meaning that people are disappointed when I tell them that a new constitutional challenge to uphold property rights or free speech or individual liberty generally will take years to get through the courts, or that we’ll have to wait several months for a court to issue an opinion in some front-page case. But lately it does seem that developments from the ongoing legal challenges to Obamacare are coming faster and faster, as if the train has now left the station and, to badly mix metaphors, it’s snowballing to an eventual collision at the Supreme Court.

Anti-Obamacare Rulings a Trend or Just Coincidence?
Lately it does seem that developments from the ongoing legal challenges to Obamacare are coming faster and faster, as if the train has now left the station and, to badly mix metaphors, it’s snowballing to an eventual collision at the Supreme Court.
A Less-Than-Rigorous ObamaCare Fact Check
Examining of some common criticisms of Obamacare.
What’s the Worst That Could Happen With The New Health Law?
The bottom line is that no one knows what the exact impact of health law will be once all of its provisions go into effect, which will take many years to occur and analyze. Americans need to be prepared for what they could face if it fails to meet up to CBO expectations.
HHS Waivers and the Three I’s of Obamacare
The whole law is bad policy. But even if one agrees with the policy, one can still recognize that the legislation itself was badly executed. The way for conservatives to drive Obamacare’s negatives even higher than they already are is by repeatedly reinforcing the theme that Obamacare is the product of three “I” words: ideology, ignorance, and incompetence.

The Importance of Incentives
This is a standard insight of economics. People work harder when they have something to gain.
The $6-an-Hour Health Minimum Wage
Most people intuitively know that the worst thing government can do in the middle of the deepest recession in 70 years is enact policies that increase the expected cost of labor. Yet that is exactly what happened last spring, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Obamacare Suffers Another Legal Blow
The deliberate consideration that these district courts are giving to these serious constitutional arguments indicates that the probability that the Supreme Court will ultimately strike down the individual mandate continues to increase.
How Government Micromanagement Could Discourage Access to Some Preventive Services
A recent letter from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reveals how Obamacare will erode patients’ access to certain preventive services.
New, Useful Tool to Keep Up with the Health Care Lawsuits
Obamacare is now being challenged by 20 different lawsuits with 21 different states as plaintiffs, but it is difficult to find all the different court documents and key arguments for the ongoing cases.Nearly three decades after the 1980s recession, those areas most damaged are still lagging behind.
A Legal Victory on the Road to Repeal
Yesterday, Roger Vinson, senior federal judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, characterized the Obama Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the constitutional challenge to Obamacare brought by 16 state attorneys general, four governors, two private citizens and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) as “not even a close call.”

Will Regulation Thwart the Personalization of Medicine?
If the FDA imposes regulations that are needlessly broad or burdensome, the result could be higher costs, fewer new tests, and additional obstacles to developing safer and more personalized drug-delivery systems.

Medical Innovation in Peril
The new health care law specifically targets reimbursement for new drugs and devices as a way to save money in programs like Medicare and Medicaid. These savings, in turn, are used to pay for new health coverage for the uninsured. But the legislation doesn’t take down drug and medical device prices directly. Rather, it creates a series of new agencies, boards, and authorities that separately will be empowered to construct new rules to impact how medical products are priced, as well as to restrict their use by defining when and if products are covered by insurance

General Economic News Oct. 18-22

U.S. plan for trade targets hits G20 headwinds
The United States struggled on Friday to win backing for a proposal to set limits on external imbalances as a way of pressing countries with surpluses such as China to let their exchange rates rise.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac deep in the hole
Republicans, Democrats agree on reform, but not on solutions.
Chávez, Syria sign economic accords
On the Mideast leg of an international tour, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said Wednesday that he and his Syrian counterpart are “on the attack’’ against Western imperialism.
Home truths
Preventing foreclosures won’t fix America’s housing mess. Encouraging banks to write down mortgages might.

China's economy cools in third quarter
China's economic growth slowed for the second quarter in a row, cooling fears that its economy is growing at an unsustainable pace.
Economy growing slowly, unevenly, Fed finds
Growth slow in two southern regions; improvement seen elsewhere.
Lenders get OK on foreclosures
President Obama's top housing official said Wednesday that lenders are within their rights to resume foreclosures this month despite allegations that they erred in processing documents. But he said the banks could face fines if found to have broken the law.
U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Increase for Third Month
The index of U.S. leading indicators rose in September for the third straight month, signaling the recovery will extend into 2011.
UPS Profit Tops Analysts' Estimates on Global Economic Pickup
United Parcel Service Inc., the world’s largest package-delivery company, raised its annual forecast after posting an 80 percent gain in quarterly profit, topping analysts’ estimates as international shipments rose.
Airline tickets: Airlines boost profits by selling fewer of them
Airline tickets aren't as plentiful as in 2008, allowing airlines to price them higher.
China's lock on market for rare earth elements: Why it matters
China said Wednesday it will 'continue to provide rare earths to the world,' but it also plans to cut exports. Here's a Q&A on what all the fuss is about.
Mortgage rates rise slightly from record low
30-year benchmark rises to 4.21 percent with 15-year at 3.64 percent.

Chicago sheriff says no to enforcing foreclosures
Two of the largest U.S. mortgage servicers have said they will resume home foreclosures, but a big-city sheriff has news for them: he won't enforce their foreclosure evictions.
IMF sees tepid recovery in Europe
In its latest economic outlook for Europe, the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that activity across the region will expand at an annual rate of 2.3% this year, before easing to 2.2% in 2011.
SEC Stretched Thin by New Rules
Securities and Exchange Chairman Mary Schapiro said today the cost of implementing scores of rules under the Dodd-Frank overhaul of financial regulation has forced her to shift money and people from other pressing tasks.
Your retirement account might get smaller this year
Older Americans whose retirement accounts took a beating from the market's downturn caught a break last year: The government suspended rules that required them to make annual withdrawals, buying them time for their portfolios to recover.
China Said to Widen Its Embargo of Minerals
China, which has been blocking shipments of crucial minerals to Japan for the last month, has now quietly halted some shipments of those materials to the United States and Europe, three industry officials said this week.
To Big to Fail Bank Plan Stretches into 2011
Steps to avoid "too big to fail" banks from destabilizing markets and the world economy will take longer to agree and a common global approach is beyond reach, regulators and central bankers said on Wednesday.
FDIC lowers expected cost of bank failures by $8 billion
Federal regulators decided against raising the fees that banks pay to insure deposits after determining that losses from bank failures this year were lower than anticipated.
Widening income disparity tests famously patient people.
Wells Fargo Reports Record Profit as Credit Improves
Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. home lender, reported record third-quarter profit that beat most analysts’ estimates as credit conditions improved, and said it’s not planning to halt foreclosures.
BofA Resists Rebuying Bad Loans
Bank Posts $7.3 Billion Third-Quarter Loss as Fee Revenue Tumbles; Effects of Regulatory Overhaul.

Bank of America Reports $7.3 Billion Loss, Citing Charges
Bank of America, the nation’s biggest bank, announced Tuesday that operating profit rebounded in the third quarter, helped by improved credit conditions among consumers and businesses.
Housing starts jump to 5-month high
Housing starts, or the number of new homes being built, rose 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 in September, up from a revised 608,000 in August, the Commerce Department said.
West get ready, here comes China 2.0
After decades of rapid growth, Asian giant faces fresh challenges.
Shattered Dreams: To Rent or Buy, That is the Question
In the midst of a stalled economy it's a wonder anyone feels like making a big financial purchase like buying a home -- long perceived as a large part of the American dream.
China raises key rate for 1st time since crisis
Beijing tries to cool inflation and guide rapid growth.
Strikes slow French life to snail's pace
Airlines warned to expect fuel shortage.
Seniors on Social Security can make the most of savings
Last week, the Social Security Administration announced that 58 million retirees and individuals with disabilities won't get a cost-of-living allowance in 2011. By law, the Social Security Administration can't increase benefits unless consumer prices in the most recent third quarter have increased since the last cost-of-living adjustment. Social Security said there has been no increase from the third quarter of 2008.
America's Poor: Where Poverty Is Rising In America
Thanks to the recession, 2009 was one of the worst years for poverty in America in more than half a century. The total number of Americans living in poverty hit 43.6 million, the highest level in 51 years and the national poverty rate rose to 14.3 percent from 13.2 percent, according to data released last month by the Census Bureau.
Holidays may be a little merrier for retailers
U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on gifts, decorations, food and other holiday-related items, up slightly from last year, a National Retail Federation survey says.
Flight delays cost passengers nearly $17 billion
There is now a dollar amount to put on the collective rage of U.S. airline passengers over flight delays: $16.7 billion.

Luxury sales rebound to pre-crisis levels The luxury sector is rebounding better-than-expected this year thanks in large part to wealthy Americans replenishing their wardrobes after a year of self-denial and nouveau riche Chinese indulging in a worldwide spending spree, according to a new study released Monday.
Donations to major charities dropped by billions
Donations to the country's 400 biggest charities plunged last year by 11 percent, the worst decline since the Chronicle of Philanthropy started ranking the fundraising organizations two decades ago.
Nevada's residents remain most likely to file for bankruptcy
When it comes to filing for bankruptcies, Nevadans have the dubious honor of being way out in front of the residents of any other state, according to bankruptcy per capita figures compiled from court records for the third quarter of 2010.
Broadband Expansion Not a Government Priority
A majority of Americans (53%) do not believe that increasing the availability of affordable high-speed internet connections should be a federal government priority
Mortgage Damage Spreads
Big Bank Stocks Hit Again as Modern Finance Collides With the Legal System.
U.S. Homebuilder Confidence Rose to Four-Month High
Confidence among U.S. homebuilders rose in October to the highest level in four months, a sign residential construction is stabilizing at depressed levels.
Industrial production falls 0.2 percent in Sept.
The Federal Reserve reports that output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities dropped 0.2 percent last month.
A productive Congress gets no respect from voters
The public panned it. Republicans obstructed it. Many Democrats fled from it. Even so, the session of Congress now drawing to a close was the most productive in nearly half a century.
Production in U.S. Unexpectedly Falls for First Time in a Year
Production in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in September for the first time in more than a year, evidence of the slowdown in growth that is concerning some Federal Reserve policy makers.
So you bought a foreclosed home. Now what?
It seemed too good to be true: You bought a house in foreclosure at a fraction of the former price. Maybe you even knocked out a wall or two and remodeled with all the money you saved. But now thousands of foreclosures around the country may be invalid because of bank paperwork problems. Should you worry?
Housing mess: You can't stay if you don't pay
Just because a lender screwed up your foreclosure paperwork doesn't mean that you get to stay in your house for free.
A $300 million bet on solar
Abound Solar, a scrappy Colorado startup barely three years old, recently won a $400 million stimulus loan guarantee from the federal government to make thin-film solar panels in the United States.Abound plans to put three quarters of that money into the Kokomo plant, hire as many as 900 people by early 2012 and start exporting to Germany.

Economist Comments
The Inequality Delusion
Americans think the U.S. has far more income equality than it has. They want it to be even fairer. Yet they hate the policies that would make it so.
The Future of Housing Finance
A memorable decade. How can we apply its lessons to the next decade?
Big banks behaving badly, again
Taxpayers are likely to pay for their garbage-to-gold alchemy.
Nine Stories The Press Is Underreporting -- Fraud, Fraud And More Fraud
If it wasn't already blindingly obvious that pervasive fraud was at the heart of the financial crisis and the ensuing foreclosure catastrophe, you would think that the latest news -- that banks have routinely been lying their heads off in the rush to kick homeowners off the properties they fraudulently induced them to buy in the first place -- would pretty much clinch it. And yet the mainstream media still by and large hasn't connected the dots.

A Lesson and a Warning From Britain
Today, George Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer – the man responsible for Britain’s budget –announced the results of a high-profile spending review. He promised cuts, and he delivered. The question is whether the cuts will be deep enough, and Osborne’s other policies wise enough, to restore Britain to financial stability.
Will Washington Let the Mortgage Put-Back Fiasco Escalate?
The mortgage put-back mess is getting more serious. Yesterday, we learned that several major investors demanded that Bank of America buyback mortgage bonds due to its shoddy servicing and process failures. If the bank refuses, the next stop is likely a court. And other banks might soon also be targets of investors. Wall Street is beginning to notice as the securitization market is beginning to seize. Again. Will Washington allow another crisis?
Europe Seen Avoiding Keynes’s Cure for Recession
The British economist John Maynard Keynes may live on in popular legend as the world’s most influential economist. But in much of Europe, and most acutely here in the land of his birth, his view that deficit spending by governments is crucial to avoiding a long recession has lately been willfully ignored.
Did the Recession Slow Consumerism, or Change It Forever?
Here are two impressions of the state of the American Consumer, that 300-million-wallet juggernaut that makes up nearly 70 percent of the economy.
Free Checking Is On the Way Out
How will banks cope with all of the new limits on the fees they can collect on credit and debit cards? That's easy -- they'll just charge all customers a little more for the services they had previous enjoyed for cheap. As a result, free checking will soon be something only economic historians talk about.

South Korea Free Trade Agreement Key to Prosperity and Security
Washington should be expanding American investment and trade opportunities throughout East Asia.
How China Is Moving to Slow Economic Growth
Despite pressure from most of its trading partners at a recent meeting in Washington, China didn't budge on the currency issue, and it is likely to dominate a Group of 20 ministerial meeting this weekend in South Korea.
First, Kill All the Pensions
I believe that in an era when the schools clearly need change, the ability to cling to your job like a rabid abalone should not be something that teacher compensation systems select for--yet that's one of the biggest benefits the job offers. This does, indeed, seem crazy.

Is Retail Recovering or Is It Just Inflation?
As the prices of imports rise, retail sales will cool off, but it will be difficult to distinguish with ongoing price inflation.
In Our Zero Sum Economy, Are You Winning or Losing?
Right now, the winners are US retail, the credit card banks, and the automakers; the losers are the banks and the holders/guarantors of US mortgage debt.
Declaring war on the regulatory state
Pelosi's Congress ignores the red-tape brigade but the GOP won't.
Why Jamie Dimon doesn't expect a double dip
Is there a new era in banking? J.P. Morgan Chase's CEO discusses what's changed -- and what hasn't.

Buying the Senior Vote
Can our retired readers be bought for $250? Apparently President Obama thinks they can, because two weeks before Election Day he has endorsed sending bonus checks for that amount to the nearly 58 million Americans on Social Security.
Can TARP R.I.P.?
The public is right to hope that the bailout law stays dead
California's Cap-and-Trade War What happens when environmental fashion collides with a state's desperate need for jobs and economic growth? That question will be put to the test when Californians vote November 2 on a ballot measure that would suspend the Golden State's cap-and-trade law until its unemployment rate falls below 5.5%. Today the rate is 12.4%.
COBURN: Education pork stalls reform
Congress can't stop throwing away your money
Now Free Chile's Entrepreneurs
The rescue of 33 miners marked how far Chile has distanced itself from Third World socialism. But if President Piñera isn't careful, Chile could end up there again.
Why a Foreclosure Moratorium Is a Bad Idea
A special bankruptcy law could help borrowers while letting housing markets clear.
The Ethanol Bailout
Scenes from a bailout: Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to make the ethanol lobby's guaranteed "market" even larger. Shares in Archer Daniels Midland, the second largest U.S. ethanol maker, rose to a near 28-month high. Midwest Democrats in tight races got a political bump. Maybe for the first time in history, Exxon and the Natural Resources Defense Council shook out on the same side of an issue—in opposition.
Obama's Foreclosure Inaction Risks Katrina Redux
The foreclosure crisis that seems on the brink of spinning out of control may be the decisive nudge that pushes the U.S. into a double-dip recession. Banks that have only just begun to recover from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression are about to find themselves in straitjackets.
The X Factor of Economics: People
Economists — they certainly are a contentious bunch. The latest evidence came last week, in the form of the minutes of the latest meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the brain trust that establishes monetary policy. The committee, we learned, is divided on a seemingly straightforward question: Should the Fed take action to goose the economy now, or wait, watch and perhaps goose later?
Just How Lousy Is the Economic Recovery?
At 18 months long, the recession did last longer than the previous record holders -- by all of two months. But in terms of unemployment, the 1981-82 recession was worse. The jobless rate peaked at 10.8 percent in Nov. 1982, compared with the peak this time around of 10.1 percent.
Free Money, Investment, and Employment
The combination of Treasury yield curve steepness and Baa-rated yields has led to year-over-year declines in employment and investment in every six-month-ahead period since 1953.

British Military Cuts, Conservatives, and Neocons
Yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Britain’s biggest defense cuts since World War II. The cuts affect the British military across the board.
When Will Our Progressive Corporatism Nightmare End?
$154 billion. That is the amount of taxpayer money that will be needed to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac according to a new “stress test” performed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. And that is the good news.
Clicks and mortar
Our interactive overview of global house prices and rents.

Letting off steam
IS CHINA'S growth slowing or accelerating? In the year to the third quarter, its economy expanded by 9.6%, slower than its growth in previous quarters. So why did China's central bank raise reserve requirements for six banks earlier this month and raise interest rates (by 0.25%) earlier this week for the first time in almost three years?
Building a new home? Yeah, me neither.
Home construction has hit yet another low. America hasn't built this few new homes in decades.
Financial Regulation Overhaul Draws Weak Public Support
Many Democrats hoped this summer’s financial regulation overhaul would help them in elections this fall. A survey by economists at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University indicates they’re not getting much traction from it.
Macroeconomics from a Pre-Keynesian Perspective
The principal component-idea of macroeconomics – aggregate demand and aggregate supply – trades on the analogy with the Marshallian individual market demand and supply analysis. For many students this makes the idea of macro-aggregation seem quite uncontroversial, almost “natural.”
Economists React: A Moderate Slowdown For China
China’s statistics bureau published key economic data for September and the third quarter Thursday, showing slowing but still rapid growth and a pickup in inflation. Analysts give their take.

What the Left Doesn’t Understand About America
If you think that President Obama’s abandonment of the Creator was an accident in his recent speech in Rockville, MD, think again. Monday was the third time in a little over a month that President Obama wrote the Creator out of one of our nation’s founding documents.
What Is the Rational Default Point for Homeowners?
While house prices nationally have fallen 30 percent from their 2006 peak, at what point does it make sense for homeowners to default as a rational economic choice? This is the question John Krainer, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Stephen LeRoy, a professor emeritus at the University of California Santa Barbara visiting San Francisco Fed scholar, have tried to answer in a new paper, Underwater Mortgages.
U.S. Government TARP Returns Outperform 30-Year Treasury Bonds
Here's something you might not easily uncover in the financial blogosteria universe: The U.S. government's returns on the bailout of banks through the Troubled Asset Relief Program beat out Treasuries, cash and CDs. Of the $309 billion invested in financial through TARP, the return over two years has been $25,2 billion, according to Bloomberg, a return of 8.2 percent, outpacing returns over the same period of the 30-year Treasury, money market accounts and certificates of deposit.
Moody's: Commercial Real Prices fall to 2002 Levels
Moody's reported today that the Moody’s/REAL All Property Type Aggregate Index declined 3.3% in August. This is a repeat sales measure of commercial real estate prices.
Should We Just Call a 'Do-Over' on the Mortgage Market?
Over at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau asks why we shouldn't just cancel all the damn mortgages and start over. I sense that he isn't the only one thinking this sort of thing these days, and while the temptation is to snort and say "that's ridiculous!", the fact is that something similar has been tried before, in land reform schemes that aimed to address an untenable inequality between landholders and the much more numerous unlanded poor.
Take an Aspirin
Thank goodness for “callous” capitalism.
Why China resists currency reform
The chorus of voices criticizing China's stubborn resistance to reforming its controversial currency regime and allowing the yuan to appreciate keeps getting louder.

A Better Way to Fix the Foreclosure Process
Today, the great mortgage morass has elicited constant calls for a publicly enforced foreclosure moratorium. But shutting down the foreclosure process would only delay the inevitable and take yet another step away from the rule of law. A far better solution would be to experiment with ways of providing more legal resources to borrowers and courts that would make the foreclosure system more efficient and fair.
The ‘Every Economist’ Myth
In fact, of course, hundreds of economists went on record against the stimulus bill.
What are commodities telling us?
Why aren't higher commodity prices showing up in the CPI? In part, this is down to lags; in part, it's down to the relatively small weight of commodities within the index. But it may be down to methodology.
The Not So Great Great Recession
True enough, the Great Recession lasted 18 months. That’s the longest recessionary period since 1929. But this fact reveals far less than the president implies.
The Left Still Doesn’t Get Poverty
It is far past time to reboot our poverty programs to promote work and encourage marriage in order to control costs and promote greater self-reliance.
Where Is the Housing Recovery?
Anyone who tells you the housing problem is "bottoming" either has an agenda or simply isn't paying attention to the data.
Latest Economic Numbers Show Industrial Complex Slowing
Capacity utilization is stagnating and production is weaker than expected.
Who's Who in the Foreclosure Scandal: A Primer on the Players
No one knows how big this show is going to get yet, but here's a guide to the original cast members.

Schedule for Week of Oct 17th
Two key housing reports will be released this week: September housing starts (Tuesday) and October homebuilder confidence (Monday). Also the Fed will release September industrial production and capacity utilization (Tuesday).
Freedom's just another word for getting a state subsidy
IT’S no secret that Europeans and Americans have different feelings toward income redistribution and meritocracy.
Unofficial Problem Bank List at 875 Institutions
The Unofficial Problem Bank List shrank this week in both the number of institutions and assets. There were eight removals and six additions leaving the list at 875 institutions, down from 877 last week.
Private Capital Moves into Public Infrastructure
The risk should be less for new than for existing infrastructure, because if the project doesn’t pay off, investors will take the hit.
Who Suffers From the Foreclosure Mess? Just About Everyone
All this uncertainty is ultimately going to be terrible for both the housing market, and the broader economy. We'd better work hard at crafting legislative and judicial remedies--more about which later.
Foreclosure "scandal" again
In the end, the biggest losers will be the unemployed, because the assault on the foreclosure process is going to keep the housing market in limbo for years. That in turn is going to make economic recovery something that does not begin until well after President Palin takes office.
Morning Bell: Big Government’s Government Union Firewall
Striking back against the electorate’s small government fervor, AFL-CIO Political Director Karen Ackerman penned a strategy memo last week claiming “Union Voters are the firewall for candidates that support working families.”
Pelosi Proposes Seniors Subsidy to ‘Replace’ the 2011 Social Security COLA
Today’s announcement that Social Security recipients will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) again in 2011 brought an immediate reaction from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA). She proposed that the lame duck Congress vote on giving seniors another $250 one-time payment supposedly to replace the COLA.
Google to Back “Spine” That Could Transmit Wind Power
Google is coming to a (future) offshore wind farm near you. In an announcement Tuesday, the technology giant said it is joining with investment firm Good Energies in a $5 billion investment to secure permitting for and begin constructing an underwater electricity transmission line.
No Loan Guarantee, No Nuclear? Not Quite
The prospects for new nuclear energy in the U.S. were purportedly set back this weekend when Constellation Energy pulled out of the Calvert Cliffs 3 nuclear energy project in Maryland. They argued that the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program was too expensive and complicated to be workable.

Leading Indicators: U.S. Economy is Still on Its Feet
Despite drags from the housing market and signs of slack in the factory sector, the Leading Economic Index managed to gain 0.3 percent in September, signaling the slow recovery will continue.

Housing Data Wrap-Up: October 2010
Home Sales and New Home Construction Face a Tough Second Half.

Solid Increase in Housing Starts in September
Housing starts rose 0.3 percent in September, which was well above expectations. Starts of single family homes increased 4.4 percent, while multi-family starts fell 9.7 percent. Single family permits rose 0.5 percent.

Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary Data this week fit the mold for how this recovery has been taking shape. Jobless claims picked up again suggesting further struggles for employment. Trade data indicated a modest drag from net exports on third quarter GDP. A bright spot was retail sales, which picked up nicely in September even as August sales numbers were revised higher.
America’s Founders and the Principles of Foreign Policy: Sovereign Independence, National Interests, and the Cause of Liberty in the World The United States would support, defend, and advance the cause of freedom everywhere. It would be a refuge for the sober, industrious, and virtuous of the world, as well as for victims of persecution. By sympathy and appropriate action, Americans would show themselves to be true friends of humanity.