Thursday, March 31, 2011

General Economics

Washington Times | House votes to restart D.C. school vouchers
The House passed a measure Wednesday to revive a school-voucher program for the District of Columbia despite opposition from the mayor, the District’s congressional delegate, teachers and the White House.
Washington Times | Obama seeks one-third cut in oil imports
Wants more reliance on U.S. oil, natural gas, renewables, nuclear
WSJ | TARP Watchdog Spars Over 'Too Big to Fail'
In his final day on the job, a federal bailout watchdog squabbled publicly with a Treasury official over the legacy of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program as both individuals testified before lawmakers.

Econ Comments                                                                                                            
Barrons | Foreclosures Boost Incomes?
In the weird world of economic data, not paying a mortgage adds to wealth. But in the real world?
The American Spectator | A Big Question for 2012
If you listen to President Obama and his Democrat and liberal/left cronies carefully, a clear, consistent message comes through on what they think promotes economic growth and jobs. They believe that the way to promote economic growth and prosperity is through increased federal spending, deficits, and debt
RCM | Union Members Have a Right to Know
A House subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce holds hearings Thursday on labor union transparency and accountability.
Minyanville | Verizon CEO Warns Government Shutdown Will Stunt Economic Recovery
Even a brief closure would put fragile recovery at risk, he says.

Cato@Liberty | Lugar Targets Federal Sugar Racket
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) just introduced the “Free Sugar Act of 2011,” which would abolish the federal sugar racket.
The Economist: Daily Charts | Weather warning
America's housing market is in the doldrums
Heritage Foundation | Two Promising Starts towards Ending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
After more than a year of delay, the House Financial Services Committee is finally starting work on legislation that will hopefully end Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two housing finance giants that helped to make the housing crisis worse.

Health Care

WSJ | Medicare Proposes Coverage of Prostate-Cancer Drug
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed covering Dendreon Corp.'s prostate cancer drug Provenge, meaning that the federal government will likely continue paying for the treatment.
NationalJournal | New Health Rules Can Save $960 Million, HHS Says
New organizations that will shape U.S. health care will save Medicare between $500 million and $960 million in the first three years, the Health and Human Services Department said on Thursday.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Fiscal Health Hinges on Containing Costs of Care
President Barack Obama is trying to protect the expansion of Medicaid built into his health-care law. Governors from both parties are trying to slow rising costs of Medicaid, which accounts for an average of 22% of state spending. House Republican budget point person Paul Ryan is trying to reduce future federal spending on Medicaid by converting it into block grants to the states.
Cato Institute | Costs of Health Care Reform Becoming More Apparent
It will cost more than advertised. The Congressional Budget Office officially "scored" the health care bill as costing $950 billion. However, those numbers do not reveal the new law's true cost. For example, CBO's estimates do not include roughly $115 billion in implementation costs, such as the cost of hiring new IRS agents to enforce the individual mandate.

Heritage Foundation | HHS Official Acknowledges Incentives for Employers to Dump Coverage Under Obamacare
One major concern of Obamacare is its huge incentive for businesses to dump employer-sponsored coverage. Recently, the Obama Administration acknowledged that this is likely, though it did so in an attempt to portray it as a positive outcome of its signature legislation.
Cato@Liberty | ObamaCare Implementation Meets Resistance in More States
Republican governors Rick Scott (FL), Sean Parnell (AK), and Bobby Jindal (LA) have flatly refused to implement ObamaCare.  Efforts to create an ObamaCare health insurance "Exchange" are meeting resistance in other states too.


Telegraph | £300 a year: the cost to each taxpayer of funding EU
British taxpayers contributed an average of more than £300 each to the European Union last year, almost twice as much as in 2009, official figures disclosed yesterday.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Mercatus Center | Taxpayers Could Be on the Hook for a Private Pension Bailout
The PBGC is financed with employer premiums, but according to its latest annual report its pension insurance programs protecting more than 44 million workers are currently facing a $23 billion deficit.

Tax Foundation | Tax Freedom Day to Arrive April 12 in 2011; Historically Massive Deficits Increase Burden of Government Spending
Americans Will Work 3 Days More for Government in 2011 than in 2010.


USA Today | Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon expects inflation
U.S. consumers face "serious" inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations warned Wednesday.
Bloomberg | Fed Releases Discount-Window Loan Records Under Order
The Federal Reserve released thousands of pages of secret loan documents under court order, almost three years after Bloomberg LP first requested details of the central bank’s unprecedented support to banks during the financial crisis.
CNN: Money | Inflation pressures grow on Main Street
Still reeling from the recession, most mom-and-pop shops have held off on raising prices for fear of losing more customers. But business is finally starting to pick up, and after years of being squeezed by cost increases, a growing number of small businesses are hiking their prices.
Fox Business | Secrets Revealed: Fed Unveils Bank Loans Made During the Crisis
A massive cache of documents released by the Federal Reserve Thursday to FOX Business Network reveals that European banks were just as desperate for cash as their counterparts in the U.S. as the credit crisis exploded in late 2008.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
AEI | Portugal Will Follow Greece and Ireland to Failure
One has to wonder how much deeper the economic recessions in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal will have to become for the IMF and the EU to recognize that the countries in the periphery suffer from solvency rather than liquidity problems, that are not amenable to correction by fiscal retrenchment alone in a fixed exchange rate system.
CNN: Money | Geithner softens stance on yuan slightly
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner once again criticized China for keeping its currency artificially low. But he also extended an olive branch that could allow China's yuan to become even more influential in global trade.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Which Fed Official Moves Markets Most?
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was once again the biggest market-mover in 2010, and the quarterly press conferences he begins next month are set to solidify his dominance, Macroeconomic Advisers said in their annual ranking.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Fed’s Hoenig: Policy Providing Tinder for Asset Bubbles
“If current policy remains in place, we almost certainly will stimulate the growth of asset values and inflation,” Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig said.

Wells Fargo Securities | Does China Have an Inflation Problem?
Inflation has risen this year in China. Not only have food prices shot up sharply, but non-food price inflation has also increased this year. Chinese authorities have tightened macroeconomic policies, and some analysts worry that overly aggressive tightening could lead to a sharp slowdown in the Chinese economy that could have global ramifications. Should we be worried about the inflation outlook in China?


MSNBC | NY legislature passes $132 billion budget, no new taxes
The New York state legislature on Thursday passed a $132.5 billion spending plan, closing a $10 billion deficit with no new taxes or debt and instead relying on harsh cuts to education and healthcare.
The Hill | In Republicans' 2012 budget plan, Social Security gets a pass
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will largely give Social Security a pass in his highly anticipated budget while proposing a significant overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid, according to sources briefed on the plan.
WSJ | Portugal Fails to Meet Deficit Goal
Portugal's official statistics agency said the deficit stood at 8.6% of gross domestic product in 2010, up from a target of 7.3%.
Politico | Budget deal close with $33B in cuts
Budget talks came to life Wednesday but not without tension between the White House and Senate Democrats, worried that the administration was too quick to agree to $33 billion in spending cuts.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Public Unions: Is California Next?
California—a state that spent the 20th century exploding with creativity, growth and wealth—now staggers beneath a $26 billion deficit.
PIMCO | Skunked
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security now account for 44% of total federal spending and are steadily rising.

Fortune: Street Sweep | Gross calls U.S. budget a Greek tragedy
Bond manager Bill Gross says he is "confident" the United States will effectively default on its debt unless Congress takes an ax to retirement and healthcare spending.


CNN Money | Jobless claims edge lower
The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits declined last week, according to a government report, raising optimism that the job market recovery is gaining steam.
Fox | How states fared on unemployment applications
Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, evidence that layoffs are declining and companies may be hiring more workers. The number of people seeking benefits dropped by 6,000 to 388,000 in the week ended March 26.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Why Unemployment Rose So Much, Dropped So Fast: Alan Krueger
Few things are more puzzling and disconcerting for an economist, and much of the American public, right now than the unemployment rate.