Thursday, April 7, 2011

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
CNS News | Alec Baldwin: Financial Crisis Has ‘Crippled’ Obama, Preventing Him From ‘Doing Any New Spending’
Emmy award-winning actor Alec Baldwin told CNSNews.com on Capitol Hill that he believes the financial crisis has "crippled" President Barack Obama, preventing him from doing any "new spending."
CBS New York | Exclusive: CBS 2 Obtains Partial List Of FDNY Company Closures
As Many As 20 On The Block, Including Responder To Wall Street
ABC | 10 New Findings from the US Census
As the Census Bureau Rolls Out New Data, a Look at Some of the Most Surprising
USA Today | Housing crash slows in 6 cities: What the bottom looks like
Housing crash slows in 6 cities: What the bottom looks like
WSJ | Food-Price Rise Stalls
World food prices fell in March for the first time in eight months, the United Nations' food body said Thursday, but it warned that prices may resume rising as higher output may not be enough to replenish low stock levels.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
CNN Money | Income inequality: How to fix it
The hot topic of income equality gets especially emotional now, at tax time, and will get even more so this year, with the latest IRS data showing what happened in the recession.
Cato Institute | Are We Really "on Track" to Double Exports in Five Years?
If you haven't heard the news, the United States is "on track" to double its exports by 2014, just as President Obama promised to achieve with his National Export Initiative.
Bloomberg | U.S. Fiscal Meltdown in Spitting Distance: Laurence Kotlikoff
The two parties are having a heated debate over the Republican plan to slice $61 billion off Uncle Sam’s projected $3.6 trillion budget.
WSJ | After the Welfare State
The moral price of dependence on government is even higher than the financial cost.

Blogs                                                                                                                          
AEI: The American | Would You Settle Your Claims on Social Security for 83 Cents on the Dollar? (I Would)
Here’s a win-win proposition for all involved.
Calculated Risk | CoreLogic: House Prices declined 2.7% in February, Prices now 4.1% below 2009 Lows
From CoreLogic: CoreLogic Home Price Index Shows Year-Over-Year Decline for Seventh Straight Month
Café Hayek | Economics and Non-Pecuniary Values
Show me a good economist and I’ll show you someone who never supposes that money, money prices, and monetary wealth are all that matter – in fact, someone who understands that, at the end of the day, money is never (save in the psychopathic cases of misers) what ultimately matters to anyone.

Health Care

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Medicare for a New Century
Paul Ryan's plan would modernize a program stuck in 1965.
NRO | Is AARP a Business?
The organization supported Obamacare to line its own pockets, a report suggests.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Heritage Foundation | Premium Support in Medicare: What It Is and What It Isn’t
Yesterday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R–WI) unveiled his budget proposal for fiscal year 2012. The transformative proposal would reverse the current trajectory of out-of-control federal spending largely due to the inclusion of a bold proposal to reform the currently unsustainable Medicare program.
Heritage Foundation | New Analysis Reveals Obamacare Will Cost More Than Expected
Heritage research reveals that “a close examination of what CBO said, as well as other evidence, makes it clear that the deficit reduction associated with [Obamacare] is based on budget gimmicks, sleights of hand, accounting tricks, and completely implausible assumptions.”
Econlog | If Economists Designed Health Policy
They would come up with something like this:
Heritage Foundation | New York Times Highlights Medicaid’s Problems
Recently in The New York Times, Robert Pear highlighted the major problems with the Medicaid program. His findings reveal that having a Medicaid card in one’s wallet is of little use if it doesn’t give beneficiaries access to the care they need.
Heritage Foundation | Side Effects: Report Reveals Another Flawed Obamacare Program
A temporary reinsurance program to run through 2014, the ERRP is an attempt to encourage companies to continue employer-sponsored coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 65. Heritage analyst Brian Blase pointed out in a recent report that this program “appears to be mostly a bailout for public-sector and union health benefit programs for early retirees.” However, shifting the cost of benefits for government and other union employees onto federal taxpayers isn’t the only problem with the program.
Econlog | Why Not Health Care Austerity?
Austerity has two major advantages over more "constructive" free market reforms:

Reports                                                                                                                         
Cato Institute | The New Health Care Law's Effect on State Medicaid Spending: A Study of the Five Most Populous States
Unless it is repealed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 promises to increase state government obligations for Medicaid by expanding Medicaid eligibility and introducing an individual health insurance mandate for all U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

Taxes

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Politico | Cut taxes? U.S. already levy-light
Would the tea party movement be happy with a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut? All taxes, all sources — state, local, excise, corporate, whatever. And real cuts, measured by real taxes that people actually pay — the actual share of taxes in gross domestic product — without being misled by the nominal rates that almost no one pays in reality.

Blogs                                                                                                                          
Type the sentence(s) summarizing the link here.
The Atlantic | Do We Really Need to Raise Taxes to Close the Deficit?
If the GOP really believes that they can get to anything close to a sustainable budget without raising taxes at least a little bit, then they are spending too much time reading their own press releases, and far too little time talking to voters outside of their tea party base.
The Atlantic | Regulations Aren't What They Used to Be
As the angry debate over Ryan's budget plan wears on, one suggestion I'm seeing over and over is that we should just raise personal and corporate income tax rates back to where they were in the 1950s, when marginal tax rates were 50% on corporate income and up to 90% on personal income, while the effective rates were arguably nearly as high.

Monetary

News                                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | ECB raises rates to combat inflation
In a widely expected move Thursday, the European Central Bank raised interest rates for the first time since 2008, in its fight against rising energy and food prices. The ECB's key interest rate is now 1.25%, up from 1% previously.
MSNBC | European Central Bank urged Portugal to seek economic aid
Central bank raises key rate less than 24 hours after Portugal says will ask for help.
Bloomberg | Portugal Set to Start Talks on Bailout as Spain Threat Eases
Portugal is set to start hammering out a bailout package that may total 75 billion euros ($107 billion) as it becomes the third euro-region country to seek European Union aid.
RCM | Spain vows won't be next after Portugal seeks aid
Spain vowed on Thursday it would not follow ailing neighbor Portugal in seeking a European bailout, and a successful Spanish bond auction suggested markets do not immediately fear contagion.
CNBC | US Going Same Route as Greece, Portugal: Economist
To me being in Europe for a few days the plot in Greece and Portugal sounds an awful lot like the same plot that’s going on in the United States. But the characters have different names.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Minyanville | What to Do When Inflation Comes Knocking
From the local coffee shop to the Federal Reserve, its post-recession comeback has been much feared. Anyone who lived through the astronomical price jumps of the 1970s will likely tell you those concerns are well-founded.
WSJ | The Fed Should Consider a 'Bad Bank'
Inflation is coming. One way to contain it is to take excess Fed assets off the table so they can't finance further easing.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Fed Would Stay Open Amid Government Shutdown
As the battle over the U.S. budget threatens to leave the government without money starting from Friday, there’s at least one key agency that would not be affected: the Federal Reserve. But its job may be complicated if other parts of the government close.
The Economist: Free exchange | Portugal prepares for a bail-out
Portugal, facing years of austerity and low growth, may not be inclined to join in the general rejoicing. Spain, lacking the firewall that Portugal had previously provided, could be feeling distinctly uneasy.

Budget

News                                                                                                                             
Fox Business | Scarier Than a Shutdown is the Budget Shortfall
A government shutdown sounds like the end of the world. Your parents won't get their social security checks; lights will go out in hospitals' and military families won't be able to put food on the table. That's what some of the most hysterical news reports are preparing us for. But for the most part these scenarios are fiction.
NationalJournal | Dean Says 2012 Budget Plan Hurts GOP, But Ryan Stands By It
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says he stands by his 2012 budget blueprint despite hesitance from some fellow Republicans who are concerned that he’s playing into Democrats’ hands.
NationalJournal | Seven Questions for Paul Ryan
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., got the attention of Washington on Tuesday with his plan to implement sweeping cuts to the social safety net and to shrink government to a level he believes is fair and sustainable. With the Budget Committee marking up his plan on Wednesday, there are questions remaining, and they’re big ones.
NationalJournal | Two Visions for Role of Government
At the heart of competing budget proposals is a fight over the size and role of government.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
USA TODAY | Our view: Dems bash GOP budget, but where's theirs?
Love it or hate it — and we do some of both — the Wisconsin Republican's proposal is the first plan in Congress big enough to do something serious about the nation's runaway deficits and debt.
Cato Institute | Is It Immoral to Cut the Budget?
Today the federal government exercises vast powers never granted to it, restricting liberties never surrendered.
AEI | The Ryan Express
One part FDR, one part Gipper.
NRO | Ryan’s Brave Budget
Rep. Paul Ryan realize we are headed for fiscal Armageddon. Does President Obama?
Examiner | Fed employees worried they'll pay highest price for a shutdown
Federal employees in the Washington region say their biggest fear as the threat of a government shutdown looms is that they and their families ultimately will be forced to pay for Congress' impasse.
RCM | Government Shutdown Myths
My first thought on hearing about the possible government shutdown at the end of this week, when spending authority is scheduled to run out, was relief. Perhaps I won't have to pay my taxes by April 18.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Reason Foundation | Paul Ryan's Budget Plan: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
We made the case against Obama's budget here. Now, we discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of Ryan's budget.
Source | Why Should Social Insurance Reform Not Affect Those Over Age 54?
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget plan is ostensibly for FY 2012, but it contains reforms with far-reaching implications for the nation's fiscal condition.
Most of the action in his plan is on the spending side and mainly on health care entitlements: Medicare and Medicaid.  Many pundits on the left are claiming it is a political document rather than a serious budget proposal, especially because it lacks details on many of its proposed policy changes. 
Cato@Liberty | Why Are Self-Proclaimed Deficit Hawks Unenthusiastic about the Ryan Budget?
Washington is filled with groups that piously express their devotion to balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, so it is rather revealing that some of these groups have less-than-friendly responses to Congressman Ryan's budget plan.
NRO: The Corner | WH Meeting Yields No Deal, Talks to Continue ‘Through the Night’
Party leaders emerged following a two-hour meeting at the White House still without a long-term spending deal, but appear to have made significant progress in that direction. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) made brief statements at a rare joint-press appearance — perhaps the most telling sign that a deal is close — and said that staff members would continue negotiating “through the night.”

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
CNN Money | New unemployment claims decline by 10,000
The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 last week, while the overall jobless rolls also declined, according to a government report released Thursday.
CNN Money | Shutdown: 800,000 federal workers in the dark
There are two kinds of federal workers right now: the essential and the non-essential. Most don't know which group they're in.

Blogs                                                                                                                          
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Government Shutdown Not Likely to Halt Unemployment Benefits
The 8.5 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits should continue to do so even if the federal government shuts down, according to officials.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Wages Fared Better in Recession Than Recovery
U.S. wages as measured in the Labor Department’s employment report have been largely stagnant over the past few months, despite improvements in the job market. In fact, many industries saw more wage growth during the recession than during the recovery.
The Economist: Business and Management | Jobs of the future
Not only will this bring paid cyberjobs within the reach of millions of Africans; it should also, by boosting the demand for mobile-internet access, create a virtuous circle in which growing use of mobile telephony encourages more investment in infrastructure, which in turn puts more people in touch with the growing global digital economy.
Mercatus Center: Neighborhood Effects | Unemployment Insurance and the Job Market
Economists weigh in here about what the jobs report means.