Monday, February 28, 2011

General Economics

CNN Money | Gas prices surge 17 cents in a week
Gas prices have increased 17 cents a gallon in the past week. And analysts expect prices to continue higher, following a sharp rise in the price of crude oil.
Fox Business | Pending Home Sales Fall Faster than Expected
Contracts for pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell faster than expected in January to the slowest pace in three months, data from a real estate trade group showed Monday.
MSNBC | Largest rise in U.S. incomes in one and a half years
Boost came from a tax cut; consumer spending rose less than expected in January
CNN Money | Rich Americans flock to fast food
When it comes to cutting back, the rich are learning a little secret the rest of us have always known: fast-food is cheap and good (if not good for you).
WSJ | OECD Sees Real Demand Driving Commodity Prices
A report being prepared for the world's Group of 20 leading economies indicates the main factor behind rising prices for wheat, sugar, cotton, metals, oil and other commodities isn't speculators, as some have suggested, but that the global demand to consume these goods is growing faster than the supply.
CNN Money | Americans earning and saving more
Americans earned more than expected in January, thanks to tax changes that boosted income, but consumers chose to add more to their savings at the start of year.
Fox News | Survey: Economy will grow moderately through 2012
Economists are forecasting faster growth than they were in November, according to a quarterly survey from the National Association for Business Economics.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Time | How Germany Became the China of Europe
Germany's revival has reversed its role in Europe.
WSJ | Exporting Wall Street
An unfriendly U.S. regulatory climate put the NYSE at a disadvantage.
AEI | The Capital-Inflow "Problem" Revisited
Sudden stops and reversals in capital flows are the stuff of policymakers' nightmares. This column builds on the last 20 years of research and argues that the capital-inflow dilemma is not an external problem-it is an eternal one.
Real Clear Markets | Largest rise in U.S. incomes in one and a half years
I was recently invited down to Washington DC to represent the venture capital industry at a Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy gripe session. At issue were the unintended consequences of an obscure corner of the Sarbanes Oxley Act known as 409(A). Bureaucratic weirdness and utter futility are the best words that come to mind.
WSJ | Unions vs. the Right to Work
Collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Number of the Week: Gasoline Prices Bite
Could rising oil prices derail the U.S. recovery? We’re more resilient to high energy prices than we used to be, but it’s certainly a danger.
Freedom Works | When Pretending Fails to Hide Bankruptcy
We the People, the hoi polloi, are the only safeguard in our present system of government from being overwhelmed by the greed and avarice of the political plunderers.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Warren Buffett’s 2010 Report: The New Beige Book Guide to the U.S. Economy
The 27-page shareholder letter Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Warren Buffett just released reads like a motivational speech or a pep talk trying to win over an audience that is increasingly pessimistic about America’s future: “In 2011, we will set a new record for capital spending – $8 billion – and spend all of the $2 billion increase in the United States,” he writes. “Now, as in 1776, 1861, 1932 and 1941, America’s best days lie ahead.”
CSM: Economist Mom | What the president’s economic report leaves out
The report by the president's Council of Economic Advisers makes no mention of 'tax reform' or 'entitlements.'
Reason Foundation: Out of Control Policy Blog | Steps Forward on GSE Reform
Since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put into conservatorship in September 2008 there has been very little movement to fix them or reform the housing finance system.
CSM: The Daily Reckoning | Oil prices will affect the whole US economy
Oil prices are rising, so will stocks begin to fall?

RCM: Wells Fargo | Economics Group
Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary

Health Care

CNNMoney | Military health costs up 300%
The Defense Department expects to spend $52.5 billion on health care in 2012, a 300% increase since 2001, the report says. By 2015, health care will account for 10% of the Pentagon budget.
WSJ | Defining 'Essential' Care
Regulators Move to Specify Coverage Under Health Law; Insurers Seek Flexibility
POLITICO | GOP governmors want Medicaid block grants
Block grants would give states fixed, upfront funding for a predetermined period of time, a marked departure from the traditional Medicaid financin, in which the federal govenrment generally matches state spending on a per-claim basis.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Regulating 'Mental Activity'
The Commerce Clause as thought monitor.
NRO | Obamacare and the CLASS Fraud
The alleged deficit-defeater turns out to be a budget-buster.
WSJ | The FDA and Slower Cures
The bureaucratic assault on cancer treatments.

Heritage Foundation | How States Can Survive the Medicaid Crisis
Along with the exploding costs of public-sector benefit packages, managing Medicaid is the greatest challenge confronting the nation’s governors and state legislative bodies.


EconLog | Distribution of Tax Burden by Quintile's still the case that the higher your income, the higher a percent of your income you pay in taxes.
Cato@Liberty | The Value-Added Tax Must Be Stopped – Unless We Want America to Become Greece
Sooner or later, there will be a giant battle in Washington over the value-added tax.


Bloomberg | Fed's Dudley Says Growth Not Reason to `Reverse' Stimulus
Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley said the “considerably brighter” economic outlook isn’t yet reason for the central bank to withdraw its record monetary stimulus.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Minyanville | GDP Downward Revision Suggests We're Headed Into Stagflation
The advance report last month from the Bureua of Economic Analysis said GDP was up 3.2%. The new numbers show it was only up 2.8%.
Bloomberg | Five Questions for Bernanke on Capitol Hill: Caroline Baum
To expect our elected representatives to have a good grasp on quantitative easing when Fed chief Ben Bernanke says the term is a misnomer is too much to ask.

CSM: Stefan Karlsson's Blog | Swedish boom isn't due to monetary policy
If the monetary policy were the reason for the boom, there would be more growth in manufacturing.
CSM: Mises Economics Blog | Prices are rising with the money supply
As prices start to rise, don't forget about all the money that the Fed created out of thin air.


WSJ | Help Wanted: Fargo Strains to Fill Jobs
As the U.S. struggles with 9% unemployment, many companies in North Dakota are struggling to find workers and recast a reputation that some local officials blame on cold weather and a bad image stemming from "Fargo," an Oscar winner with the tagline: "A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere."

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
National Review: Kevin Williamson | Upending Our Caste System
It is unions’ political power, not their economic power alone, that must be curtailed.


CNN Money | Economists' biggest worry: Federal budget deficit
Government deficits are the biggest long-term worry of top U.S. economists, according to a survey released Monday.
National Journal | Lee: No Debt Ceiling Hike Without a Balanced Budget
His bill would cap spending at 18 percent of GDP.
CNN Money | How spending cuts hurt the economy -- dueling estimates
The big spending cuts proposed by House Republicans could weigh on economic growth and jobs, but forecasts vary widely.
CNN | State budget deficits
Thousands of protesters in Madison, Wisconsin, have demonstrated against the governor's proposed budget that includes a provision to limit collective bargaining for public employees.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Governors Scramble to Rein In Medicaid
More than half the states want permission to remove hundreds of thousands of people from the Medicaid insurance program, a move that would represent a rare cut to a national social program.
Fiscal Times | State Debt Crisis: Preview of Federal Pain to Come
Beyond the grim implications for cash-strapped states, this scenario offers a preview of the pain that might befall the federal government if investors in U.S.
Washington Times | Social Security reform looms with or without Obama
...there was a conspicuous omission from his 2012 budget blueprint that many say would go a long way toward easing the nation’s financial woes: Social Security reform.
CNN Money | Spending cuts aren't enough. It's time to fix the budget
You can't fix a massive multi-trillion dollar problem by focusing on one-eighth of the budget. You just can't.
WSJ | Deal on Spending Cuts Would Defer Tougher Decisions
House Republicans plan to begin debate Tuesday on a bill that would keep the government open for two additional weeks while cutting $4 billion in spending. Senate Democrats are signaling they will accept the GOP proposal, or something similar, by week's end.
Washington Times | DECKER: Michigan’s reform storm
Businessman-governor tries to right-size state government.
Fiscal Times | The Budget Battle Could Spook Global Investors
Interest payments could total 25 percent of revenues by 2021.

FreedomWorks | Federal, state and local debt hits post-WWII levels
Beware, the Social Security unfunded-liability is approximately $4 trillion depending on how far out it is calculated.
Jacob T. Levy | Hey, look at that
"While spending on earmarks is a tiny portion of the budget, critics like Mr. Flake and Mr. Boehner said they played an insidious role in pushing up federal spending through what is known in legislative terms as logrolling."

Mercatus Center | The 1 Percent Solution
This working paper lays out a general framework for how the nation can address its long-term fiscal challenges, without tax increases, to avert the coming fiscal crisis and balance the budget within the next decade.