Tuesday, March 29, 2011

General Economics

NY Times | Food inflation kept hidden in tinier bags
'It's sneaky, because they figure people won't know'
CNN Money | Home prices near a double dip
January home prices fell for the sixth month in a row, edging closer to a double dip.
NY Times | More Fees, More Carry-Ons
The price of checking a suitcase on an airplane — $15 to $40 a bag — has added up to more than $6 billion in revenue for airlines in the United States in the last four years, according to Transportation Department statistics. The fees have also led to an increased number of bags being carried onto airplanes.
Fox Business | Consumer Confidence Slides
U.S. consumer confidence fell in March after hitting a three-year high in the prior month as expectations about jobs and income growth worsened, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

Econ Comments                                                                                                            
Financial Post | William Watson: Inheritance reduces inequality
Inheritances are bigger as a ­percentage of net worth at the bottom end of the income scale
Ludwig von Mises Institute | World War II Did Not End the Great Depression
The current economic climate has a lot of people talking about the Great Depression. In particular, it has been said by people of divergent political views (George Will and Paul Krugman, for example) that World War II ended the decade-long economic nightmare. Examining this claim is worthwhile because it has implications for whether government intervention generally — and in connection with war specifically — are good for the economy.
Washington Times | ARMEY: State-union battles revive school-choice hope
Worried about their cushy benefits, teachers unions choose to resist
Fortune | Why house prices will keep falling
Unless Ben Bernanke sets off a big inflation wave, house prices are doomed to keep falling for years.
Fox Business | Home Price Double-Dip Is Here
No good news to report in the January Case-Shiller Home Price Index.
Minyanville | Consumer Spending and the Debt Problem
If all we have to do is spend, spend, spend to recover, then we should stop saving, pile up more debt, and spend. But it doesn't work that way.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Top 10 Dying Industries
The U.S. economy is recovering from a severe recession, but some industries are unlikely to ever fully bounce back.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Rising U.S. Savings Are Part of Global Rebalancing
Saving has become a status symbol in the New Frugality. The fallout of the financial crisis — from mortgage defaults to tattered 401(k) portfolios — taught U.S. households the need to get their balance sheets in better order.
Daily Capitalist | Consumer Spending and the Debt Problem
It seems like we’re having great news today about consumer spending, at least if you read the articles coming from the Journal and Bloomberg. They don’t let you forget that consumer spending is 70% of the economy.
Marginal Revolution | How much productivity growth was there during 2007-2009?
Michael Mandel has a long and excellent blog post on this question.  He claims that the supposed productivity gains were concentrated in a small number of sectors (one of which, by the way, was financial services ha-ha) and that they are mostly illusory when cross-checked with other sources of data.

Mercatus Center | Arnold King: Testimony Before the Senate Banking Committee
The time has come to say no to the mortgage lobby. Send them home empty-handed. Let ordinary Americans win one for a change.
RCM: Wells Fargo | Consumer Spending Picked Up in February…So Did Prices
Personal income increased 0.3 percent in February after a 1.2 percent jump the prior month. Spending picked
up 0.7 percent as a spike in energy prices competes for a larger share of spending.

Health Care

Weekly Standard | Cash for Doctors Revisited
An idea whose time has come?
Politico | Health law cost still a wild card
Anyone who claims to know how much the health care law will costs is missing one big piece of information: the exact cost of the benefits.
MSNBC | Medicare rise could mean no Social Security COLA
When Medicare premiums rise more than Social Security payments, millions of people living on fixed incomes don't get raises.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | NUGENT: Obamacare is crony-care
Vocal reform supporters are now demanding waivers.


Fiscal Times | So Far, Most of Tax Cut Is Going Down the Gas Tank
Gas prices have drained more than half the extra cash Americans are getting this year from a cut in Social Security taxes.
CNN Money | IRS cracks down on millionaires
Especially if you make more than $10 million. Audits of these folks surged 73% last year, hitting more than 18% of taxpayers in the highest income bracket, according to recently released statistics from the IRS.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | RAHN: Lessons from the states
Prosperity reigns where taxes are low and right to work prevails.
NRO | GE Avoids Taxes?
Shocker: Corporations try to avoid taxes.
WSJ | The Price of Taxing the Rich
The top 1% of earners fill the coffers of states like California and New York during a boom—and leave them starved for revenue in a bust.

The Economist: Buttonwood's notebook | The rich will pay
For those who doubt that there is a trade-off between tax rates and tax take, note that the Swedish system has high marginal tax rates but in terms of tax take, is less progressive than Britain.

Census | Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue
Total tax revenue increases for fifth straight quarter.


Bloomberg | Fed’s Bullard Says QE Cuts Could Be About $100 Billion
We are still feeding the fire at this moment, so I think we have to start thinking about turning this around in the near future. If the economy is as strong as I think and hope it will be in 2011, I think it will be time for us to start to reverse our ultra-aggressive and ultra-easy monetary policy.
NYT | Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags
As an expected increase in the cost of raw materials looms for late summer, consumers are beginning to encounter shrinking food packages.
Bloomberg | Dying Banks Kept Alive Show Secrets Fed's Data Will Reveal for First Time
U.S. regulators closed Chicago- based Park National Bank in October 2009 when it owed $345 million to one of the lowest-cost lenders in town: the Federal Reserve’s discount window. Park National had been a constant customer at the window for more than 18 months before it failed, records show.
WSJ | Australian Dollar Thriving On Chaos
Less than three months ago, investors were wrestling with the implications of Australia's own economic shock in the form of the devastating Queensland floods. And, this month, the disaster in Japan was followed by a rush among Japanese individual investors out of the Australian dollar and back into the yen.
Bloomberg | European Bank Funding Threatened as Basel III Rules Clash With Solvency II
European banks are being forced to sell more long-term bonds as regulators seek to prevent another financial crisis. European insurers say their own regulator will stop them from buying such debt.
WSJ | Inflation Picks Up Across OECD
The pickup in inflation rates to their highest levels since the intensification of the financial crisis in the wake of Lehman Brothers' collapse is likely to lead to a round of interest-rate rises at a time when growth remains fragile in many parts of the developed world.
Fox News | Auditor: Financial overhaul law cost $1B per year
Government Accountability Office figures, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, show that it will cost 11 agencies an estimated $974 million to hire employees and for other costs carrying out the new statute.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Minyanville | Gold's Average Price Is Second-Most Overvalued Since 1791
The inflation-adjusted price of gold is a valuation technique that remains one of the more brilliant carnival-barker efforts in the annals of Wall Street. Here's why.

Daily Capitalist | The End of Sound Money and the Triumph of Crony Capitalism
“In the present era of massive quantitative easing, newly issued Treasury securities amount to non-interest-bearing currency without the circulation privilege.”


Politico | Conservatives plan rogue budget to challenge Republicans
Their tool: an ambitious fiscal 2012 alternative budget that will challenge the official GOP leadership’s spending plan and once again reveal divides within the Republican Party over how deep to cut the government.
National Journal | Bachus, Walz Do Their Part for Debt Reduction
Two congressmen donated portions of salary to pay down the deficit.
WSJ | Central Bank Warns Portugal on Deficit
The Bank of Portugal on Tuesday cut its economic growth forecasts for this year and next and said substantial measures will be needed to meet the government's deficit-reduction goals.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | COLE: Postal Service delivers bill of goods to taxpayers
In 2010, the USPS, currently $12 billion in debt, lost $8.5 billion. It’s likely to lose another $7 billion this year.
RCM | Let's Make a Balanced Budget the Law
In a day when runaway spending is running away faster than ever, we need a mechanism to rein it in.
American | Municipal Debt Crises: Some Historical Perspective
Lessons from the Big Apple merit keeping in mind today.
RCM | What Parkinson's Law Says About Federal Spending
Parkinson revealed as false the widely held view embraced by politicians and taxpayers that the need for more civil servants will reveal itself through a growing volume of work completed. The truth is something quite different.

Bankrupting America | Did you get your Money’s Worth from Congress so far this year?
Outside of the short-term continuing resolutions each chamber has passed (which cut approximately $2 billion in spending each week) and considering the long-term CR is still in limbo (as passed by the House, it would cut about $60 billion from Fiscal Year 2010 levels), here’s what each chamber has achieved this year...
WSJ | GAO: Implementing Dodd-Frank Could Cost $2.9 Billion
Implementing last year’s financial overhaul law could cost the federal government as much as $2.9 billion over five years, according to a summary of a coming Government Accountability Office report obtained by the Journal.
Weekly Standard | Boldness on Entitlement Reform Will Benefit Republicans
While grandfathering in current beneficiaries, Republicans should propose entitlement reforms that are clear, relatively easy to explain, and more or less immediate.


The Economist: Free Exchange | Jobs don't pay what they used to
If you could get rid of the minimum wage and instead adopt a policy in which the government simply subsidises the incomes of sub-minimum wage workers up to the minimum wage level, you'd unambiguously increase employment without forcing anyone to take home less pay.
Political Caluclations | Jobs Above and Below the Minimum Wage Line
Today's experiment shows how the number of jobs paying wages or salaries above and below the federal minimum wage has changed in each year since 2006.