Friday, March 25, 2011

General Economics

MSNBC | Economic growth picked up speed at the end of last year
The U.S. economy grew a little faster at the end of 2010 than the government had previously estimated, boosted by more inventory building and business investment in plants and equipment.
CNN Money | Household wealth down 23% in 2 years - Fed
The average American family's household net worth declined 23% between 2007 and 2009, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.
CNN Money | GDP report: Economy grew at 3.1% rate in Q4
The economy grew slightly faster at the end of 2010 than previously thought, according to a government release Friday.
Fox Business | Consumer Sentiment Slides in March
U.S. consumer sentiment in March fell to its lowest level in more than a year as gasoline and food prices rose, a survey released Friday showed.
Washington Times | Fears rise that Japan could sell off U.S. debt
Some analysts say that risk to U.S. economy unlikely.

Econ Comments                                                                                                            
National Review | Leave Our Bulbs Alone
Is no household object safe?
WSJ | Dodd-Frank's Threat to Financial Stability
The identification of firms as too big to fail is a mad policy that will confer unfair marketplace advantages and put taxpayers on the hook for future bailouts.
Washington Times | LAMBRO: More ‘unexpected’ bad news
Housing market takes a headlong fall - again
WSJ | Detroit's Decline and The Folly of Light Rail
The country needs to unleash entrepreneurs, who will only be held back by tax-funded make-work projects.
Fiscal Times | Food Fight: Are Farm Policies Making Us Fat?
As Americans’ waistlines continue to grow, so does the cost of health care: obesity will cost the U.S. about $344 billion in seven years.
Washington Times | LIVINGSTON: When companies compete, taxpayers win
Congress must ensure Boeing’s new air tankers stay on budget.

Cato Institute | End Federal Welfare – Don’t Mend It
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, recently introduced “The Welfare Reform Act of 2011.” The legislation’s two key components are the imposition of work requirements on food stamps recipients and the capping of total spending for 77 welfare programs at 2007 levels (adjusted for inflation going forward) when unemployment drops below 6.5 percent.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Secondary Sources: Inflation, Entrepreneurship, Satisfaction and Jobs
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.
Calculated Risk | S&P Cuts Sovereign Credit Rating of Portugal
I suppose there are two key questions: 1) Is Spain next? and 2) will Ireland, Greece, or Portugal default (and what would be the impact of a default)?

RCM: Wells Fargo | Durable Goods Orders Slip in February
Durable goods orders were weaker than expected for February, slipping 0.9 percent. Defense orders plunged
an unexpected 24.8 percent on the month, pushing the headline orders number lower.

Health Care

NationalJournal | Insurance Exchanges Pose a Catch-22 for GOP Governors
A key portion of the health care law has some Republican governors cornered. The law requires states to manage and maintain a virtual marketplace for health insurance, called an exchange. While federal health officials are still sussing out how they'll operate, they nevertheless envision an exchange as an online portal that allows consumers to comparison shop for coverage.
Politico | Senate Democrats eye health-law strategy
It may be uphill for Democrats to hold the Senate in 2012, but they're eyeing an oppurtunity on the health: They believe the Republican candidates might be forced to push so hard for repeal that they lose swing voters.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NRO | The Weiner Waiver Wormhole
An Obamacare waiver for New York City would only be the first step.
WSJ | The March of Health Progress
A new report shows lower death rates and lower infant mortality.

Heritage Foundation | Doctor Fears Government’s Expanding Role in Health Care
Dr. Martha Boone doesn’t hide her displeasure with Obamacare. She was opposed to the law long before President Obama signed it one year ago and remains critical of it today. She spoke at Heritage this week about its impact on doctors.
Heritage Foundation | Side Effects: Obamacare and a Physician Shortage Mean Reduced Access to Care Under Medicaid
A main goal of Obamacare was to expand health care coverage in the United States, which it tries to achieve largely by adding 18 million more individuals to Medicaid. But health coverage does not always equate to access to care, which is already apparent in the Medicaid program.


CNN Money | CNN Money Sorry, GOP: Tax revenue needs to go up
The United States has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

The Hill: Floor Action | The Hill: Floor Action CBO: Taxing mileage a 'practical option' for revenue enhancement
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this week released a report that said taxing people based on how many miles they drive is a possible option for raising new revenues and that these taxes could be used to offset the costs of highway maintenance at a time when federal funds are short.


WSJ | Bernanke to Speak Out More to Explain, Bolster Policies
Fed policies have drawn increasing fire in recent years from lawmakers, foreign policy makers and others. Issues include the central bank's interest-rate policies during the housing bubble, its reaction to the financial crisis and its current easy-money policies. Mr. Bernanke has responded by stepping up his public opportunities to counter the criticism.
The Economist | Money and politics
It was supposed to the European summit when the crisis of the euro would finally be resolved with a comprehensive set of responses. The economic-governance reforms were supposed to be a “game changer”, in the view of José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission. It was not to be. The game has been postponed to June.
The Economist | Another year of living dangerously
Turmoil in the Middle East and disaster in Japan arouse economic angst. Central banks must not make it worse.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Barron's | Evolution of Thinking About the Dollar
Utah, North Carolina legislators vote against Fed, cheap money, and in favor of gold.
Minyanville | Catastrophic Implications of US and Japan Money Pumping and Debt
Also discussed in today's podcast: Motrgage backed securities, the insolvent social security disability fund, Middle East instability, and more.

Cat@Liberty | Federal Reserve to Hold Press Conferences
While I generally haven't been a fan of Bernanke's policy decisions, many of his "process" decisions, such as holding these press conferences, have been moves in the right direction of greater Fed communication with the public. 
WSJ: Real Time Economics | A Timeline of Fed Communications
The Fed announced today that Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold press briefings four times a year, the latest move by the central bank to bolster communications with the public. Below is a timeline of previous efforts to improve transparency:


Politico | Unsustainable budget threatens nation
Divided government is no excuse for inaction. The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, issued a report on the problem in December supported by 11 Democrats and Republicans a clear majority of the panel's 18 members.
The Economist | No wriggle room
This was not the radical reforming budget it had been billed as. But its heart was in the right place.
Washington Times | Fears rise that Japan could sell off U.S. debt
Some analysts say that risk to U.S. economy unlikely.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NRO | A (Cautionary) Tale of Two Budget Wars
Comparing the shutdowns in the mid-Nineties with today’s situation.
NRO | Worsening Our Fiscal Nightmare
We need honest, fact-based budgeting.

Cato@Liberty | New Jersey Canceled for Lack of Funds
New Jersey is broke. In an effort to get the state back on its financial feet, governor Chris Christie has made across-the-board cuts--including cuts to public school spending.
NRO: The Corner | Re: The Folly of Defense Cuts
The way to prevent presidents from squandering our military might on questionable adventures is not by reducing the nation’s military capacity, but, as the late James Burnham reminded us, by having a Congress willing to hold such leaders to account and a public prepared to elect more prudent presidents.
Bankrupting America | March Spending Madness
In our opinion, the madness of college basketball in March is matched only by the madness of the federal government’s insistence on spending way beyond its means. And just like success on the court is determined by discipline and hard work, a sustained economic recovery will rely on fiscal discipline and making difficult (and sometimes unpopular) decisions.

CRFB | Social Security and the Budget
Three has been a good deal of discussion recently over Social Security's effect on the federal budget. Some argue that Social Security is an independent and self-financing program which does not add a dime to the deficit, while other suggest that it is the largest government program and - because it spends more than it raises- contributes to overal budget deficits.


MSNBC | Postal Service to cut 7,500 jobs, close offices
Declining volume of mail, staff costs and private-sector competition necessitate moves
CNN Money | Texas budget could cost 600,000 jobs
Texas could see more than 600,000 jobs disappear if lawmakers adopt the $83.8 billion budget that will go before the state House late next week, according to a state agency.
National Journal | GOP Prescription: Spending Cuts and Lower Wages Equal More Jobs
In a little-noticed economic report distributed by the office House Speaker John Boehner last week, the Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee attempted to refute criticisms that the GOP’s economic agenda would deliver too much pain too fast.
WSJ | Postal Service to Cut 7,500 Managers
The U.S. Postal Service will cut 7,500 managers and shut seven district offices, responding to record losses and declining mail volume as more people communicate by e-mail and texts and pay bills online.

Econ Comments                                                                                                            
Washington Times | BERMAN: Collective bargaining is no ‘right’
What government gives, government can take away.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Older Workers More Likely to Be Employed Than Teens
The biggest changes in family life sometimes happen gradually. New employment data suggest one such seismic change is upon us: Job-holding patterns between the generations have turned upside down.
Heritage Foundation: The Foundry | Obama’s Anti-Drilling Agenda Costs Jobs Across America
President Obama’s hometown of Chicago is nearly 1,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. But like many other communities across the country, it is suffering the consequences of his Administration’s anti-drilling agenda.