Monday, March 28, 2011

General Economics

CNN Money | 13% of all U.S. homes are vacant
High residential vacancies are killing many housing markets, as foreclosed homes sit on the market and depress sale prices and property values.
USA Today | Gas prices push consumer spending up in February
Consumer spending rose in February at the fastest pace in four months, but a big part of the increase went to higher gasoline prices.
Washington Times | D.C. taxis to charge extra $1 to offset gas prices
Type the sentence(s) summarizing the link here.
Fox Business | Pending Home Sales Unexpectedly Rise in February
Pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly rose in February, a trade group said on Monday, pointing to a modest pick-up in home sales.
WSJ | Mortgage Servicers Resist But Cut Debts
U.S. banks are resisting efforts by state attorneys general to force them to cut the amounts owed by some borrowers facing foreclosure. Yet mortgage companies already have reduced home-loan balances for more than 100,000 borrowers.
Fox | Consumer spending rises 0.7 percent in February
Consumers spending rise in February at the fastest pace in four months, but a big part of the increase went to cover higher prices for gas.

Econ Comments                                                                                                            
NRO | Home Is Where the Growth Is
Why Texas and the Rocky Mountain states are outpacing the others.
Washington Times | CRANE: Winning whose future?
Founders made clear our goals must be individual, not collective
Fortune | Real estate: It's time to buy again
Forget stocks. Don't bet on gold. After four years of plunging home prices, the most attractive asset class in America is housing.

Cato@Liberty | The Economy Tanked but, Hey, Wealth Inequality Declined
The average net worth of U.S. households fell by nearly 20 percent between 2007 and 2009.
Calculated Risk | Unofficial Problem Bank list increases to 985 Institutions
Here is the unofficial problem bank list for Mar 25, 2011.
EconLog | The Economy in Transition
If consumption patterns across individuals and groups are diverging as much as I think they are, then there really is no "average American household" to speak of, and the very process of aggregation is seriously misleading.
Calculated Risk | LPS: Overall mortgage delinquencies declined slightly in February
LPS Applied Analytics recently released their February Mortgage Performance data.

RCM: Wells Fargo | Economics Groups
Weekly Economics & Financial Commentary

Health Care

Fiscal Times | Medicare Rise Could Mean no Social Security COLA
Millions of retired and disabled people in the United States had better brace for another year with no increase in Social Security payments.
CNN: Money | Shrinking Medicaid funds pummel states
Strapped states are scrambling to address Medicaid's ballooning costs before the federal government cuts back a critical source of funding this week.
NationalJournal | New Health Regs in Doubt Before They Are Even Out
This could be the week the federal government releases delayed regulations for a major piece of the health care law, which aims to bring down health costs by grouping together doctors, nurses, nursing homes and other providers and holding them accountable for the health of their patients.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Cato Institute | Should Governments Subsidize Health Insurance?
Most people believe that government should subsidize health insurance. Liberals endorse this view with gusto, arguing for universal provision as in Canada or Western Europe.
WSJ | Rhode Island's Medicaid Lesson
A case study in how waivers for state innovation can work.

Heritage Foundation | Accepting Federal Exchange Funding for Obamacare: A Dangerous Proposition for the States
Right now, states across the country are trying to figure out what to do in response to Obamacare and its health insurance exchange architecture.


CNN Money | White House, taxes and the CEO who shall not be named
Carney reiterated Obama's commitment to reform, but made clear he was not referring specifically to GE.
CNN Money | Tax cheats: Single, young and male
At least that's what an annual survey by DDB Worldwide Communications Group found.


CNBC | Gold Replacing Dollar as World's Reserve Currency
Central banks are shedding dollars, reducing their holdings by about $9 billion in previous quarter.
WSJ | Fed Official Hoenig, a Policy Critic, to Retire
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig will retire Oct. 1, marking nearly four decades of central bank service. The announcement by his bank Friday wasn't unexpected, as Mr. Hoenig is approaching the central bank's mandatory retirement age of 65. He took office in 1991.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Ludwig von Mises Institute | Where Is QE2 Taking Us?
Five months into the second round of quantitative easing — "QE2" — it is useful to take stock of what it has, and has not, accomplished. In short, the monetary base is way, way up, price inflation is up, long-term interest rates are up, and bank lending is down.
Ludwig von Mises Institute | The Moral Hazard of the Euro
The current sovereign-debt crisis is the direct result of credit expansion by the European banking system. In the early 2000s, credit was expanded especially in the periphery of the European Monetary Union such as in Ireland, Greece, Portugal, and Spain. Interest rates were reduced substantially by credit expansion coupled with a fall both in inflationary expectations and risk premiums.
Minyanville | Fractional Reserve Banking: A Response to Mish Shedlock
Mike "Mish" Shedlock responded critically to an article by Keith Weiner. Here, Weiner responds, noting the importance of determining the validity of fractional reserve banking.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Fed’s Plosser: Monetary Policy Creates Inflation
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser warned Friday of the risks of keeping monetary policy too easy in the face of an energy price shock.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | A Look Inside the Fed’s Balance Sheet
Assets on the Fed’s balance sheet expanded to around $2.584 trillion in the latest week from $2.566 trillion a week earlier. Nearly all the additions came from $25 billion in Treasury purchases. The Fed announced earlier last year that it will buy an additional $600 billion of Treasurys through June in addition to previously announced purchases with money reinvested from its MBS portfolio.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Fed Sets Schedule for 2012 — No November Meeting
Last year, the Federal Reserve launched its controversial QE2 — quantitative easing, round 2 — effort at its Nov. 2-3 meeting, which coincided with Election Day. Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the Nov 2 balloting, and, with new attention to their utterances, immediately turned to bashing the Fed and QE2.


WSJ | Fiscal Showdown Looms in Capitol
The White House and Democratic lawmakers, with less than two weeks left to avoid a government shutdown, are assembling a proposal for roughly $20 billion in additional spending cuts that could soon be offered to Republicans, according to people close to the budget talks.
National Journal | Short-Term Funding Measures Have Agency Budget Officials Finding Ways to Save
As Congress inches its way closer to a final deal—or a government shutdown—over 2011 spending, federal agencies have already been forced to make do with less and prepare for the worst.
Fox News | NY Gov, Lawmakers Agree to Tentative $133B Budget
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a tentative $132.5 billion state budget deal he struck with legislative leaders Sunday was nothing less than historic for its spending cuts as well as its timeliness.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NY Times | Mankiw: It’s 2026, and the Debt Is Due
The following is a presidential address to the nation — to be delivered in March 2026.
Politico | Stronger rules will rein in debt
President Barack Obama’s fight with Congress over government funding for the rest of this fiscal year is a distraction from much more important budget challenges...

Heritage Foundation | Secret Earmarks Remain in Federal Budget
USA Today reported this week that billions in earmarks remain tucked into the funding measure that keeps the federal government running for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Cato Institute | Bankrupt: Entitlements and the Federal Budget
If one considers the unfunded liabilities of programs such as Medicare and Social Security, the true national debt could run as high as $119.5 trillion.


WSJ: Real Time Economics | Most U.S. States Post Unemployment Decline
Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in February, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The Unbroken Window | Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Minimum Wage Edition
Did you know that:
Atlantic | Inflation or Unemployment?
Monetary policy is important.  But its power over the real economy is not unlimited.