Wednesday, April 20, 2011

General Economics

CNN Money | Japan's trade surplus plunges after earthquake
The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan last month also had a major impact on the country's trade balance.
National Journal | Urging Clean-Energy Investment, Obama Cites High Gas Prices
President Obama is trying to ward off the inevitable political backlash that accompanies high gasoline prices by turning pain at the pump into an argument for clean-energy investment.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
CNN Money | Corruption: The biggest threat to developing economies
Many people shrug at corruption because they figure it's eternal and incurable. Not so.
Washington Times | Red tape recession
Government rules are stifling economic growth
Minyanville | Voodoo Economics: Policy Responses to the Global Financial Crisis
In framing policy responses to the global financial crisis, central bankers and governments have increasingly embraced more exotic forms of "voodoo."

Cato@Liberty | All You Have to Do Is Let Go of the Monopoly
Why is this so weak? Because it gives parents and taxpayers — the people who pay for public education and whom the system is supposed to serve — the fewest avenues to get what they want out of the schools.
Heritage Foundation: The Foundry | Solar Power on the Taxpayers’ Dime
Someone should really tell the Department of Energy (DOE) about the federal government’s spending crisis.
The Atlantic | Markets and the Common Good
All the activity of a modern human takes place in the context of society.  That requires balancing of individual rights and the common good.  But this is not a blank check for the government to trample rights as it pleases . . . nor a blanket answer when people complain that the government has gotten too intrusive.
Heritage Foundation: The Foundry | Morning Bell: Gulf Oil Spill, One Year Later
A year ago today, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico cost the lives of 11 men and threatened untold damage to the ecosystem. It was an unprecedented disaster, and the tragic loss of life it entailed made it all the more imperative that such an accident never repeat itself.
Forbes | How Many Politicians Are Needed To Screw Up A Light Bulb?
The lights have been permanently shut off at the last major U.S. incandescent light bulb plant, General Electric’s Winchester, Va., facility. But don’t worry.  GE’s Chinese plants will replace them with a different kind that is supposed to be better.

RCM | Does Unreal GDP Drive Our Policy Choices?
Gross Domestic Product is used to measure a country’s economic growth and standard of living. It measures neither. Unfortunately, the finance community and global centers of power are wedded to a measure that bears little relation to reality, because it confuses prosperity with debt-fueled spending.

Health Care

NationalJournal | Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse Starts With Education, Feds Say
Federal officials announced a plan to reduce prescription drug abuse on Tuesday, pegging their solution to better educating the doctors prescribing pain medication and the patients getting the powerful drugs.
Politico | Poll: Taxing the rich favored over Medicare cuts
Most Americans oppose the big spending cuts that many in Washington see as necessary to bring down the budget deficit, a new poll suggests, but they do support one idea for deficit reduction that President Obama has pushed for years, raising taxes on the rich.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | The Other Medicare Cutters
Obama's plan relies on a politically insulated board of experts.

Politico | Rep. Mike Rogers's bill undermines health reform
It should surprise no one that even as Congress bravely talks deficit reduction, members push for special interest legislation likely to drive the deficit higher.


Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Get Rich, Pay Lower Taxes, Boost Federal Revenue: Amity Shlaes
Raise the rates too high, and you get a perverse result: less money from the rich than you expect. Lower the rates, and the rich pay a greater share of the taxes.
Fiscal Times | Taxing the Rich Can Shortchange the Economy
Only 47 percent of Americans pay federal income taxes, which suggests that high spending candidates who are more likely to tax the rich are more likely to be elected.
RCM | Who Among Us Doesn't Pay Income Tax?
While the final statistics for 2010 are not yet available, we know from past years that over one-third of taxpayers will file "non-taxable returns," meaning that they will not owe any federal income tax.
Fox News | Gang of Six' Senators Under Pressure to Strike Budget Deal After Credit Rating Warning
The commission plan would cut the debt by roughly $4 trillion over 10 years, touching every area of the budget, including entitlements, taxes, and defense spending.


CNBC | China Urges US to Protect Creditors After S&P Warning
China's Foreign Ministry said that the US must take responsible measures to protect investors in its debt after S&P threatened to lower its credit rating on the US due to a bulging budget deficit.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Minyanville | Is the Yuan Overvalued?
Eventually China's property bubble will crash and its entire infrastructure boom along with it. When that happens, it will take a monumental effort to recapitalize the country's banks.
CNN: Money | Time to short the U.S. dollar?
Over the course of the next two months, there are several catalysts that are all set up to be negative for the U.S. dollar. And then there's the dismal deficit situation.
Minyanville | Five Things You Need to Know: The Myth of the Fed's Unprecedented Bond Purchases
Also, the impact of higher gasoline prices on household spending, the decline of home ownership and more.

The Economist: Free exchange | When will it raise interest rates?
The doves still seem unpersuaded of the case for a rate increase. Some analysts are now talking about August, when the next-but-one Inflation Report is published, as the month when the rate cycle finally turns. That seems about right. If May is not the month, June and July probably won't be either.
Atlantic: Megan Mcardle | Inflation Won't Cure Our Debt Woes
Inflation was a good way to ease the burden of our World War II borrowing--once the war was over.  But it is not a good way to ease the burden of an increasingly expensive entitlement program that shows no signs of winding down.
The Economist: Buttonwood's notebook | Where the US has already been downgraded
Since China is the world's key creditor, it makes sense to focus on its views. Never mind "negative watch"; Dagong downgraded the US back in November from AA to A+, on a par with Chile. Only Switzerland, Denmark and Australia are ranked AAA; China and Germany are AA+ or three notches higher than the US.


National Journal | Bad Omen? Discouraged Workers Stay on Sidelines Even as Hiring Picks Up
Since November, the unemployment rate has plunged a full percentage point to about 8.8 percent. That sounds like good news, because the decline in official joblessness was faster than forecasters had been expecting.
WSJ | OECD: Unemployment May Linger
The risk that unemployment levels remain at current levels after the financial crisis is a major concern, including in the U.S., the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a report Wednesday.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
RCM | California Dreamin' About Texas Jobs
A group of California legislators recently made headlines when they traveled to Texas to learn why the Lone Star State has lately been generating the kind of job growth that the Golden State was once known for, and even luring many companies that once made California their home.


National Journal | Geithner: Two Plans Hold Basis for Deficit Agreement
Geithner’s comments came after the House last week approved a GOP-drafted fiscal 2012 budget resolution that cuts $5.8 trillion from current spending levels over 10 years and restructures Medicare and Medicaid.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NRO | Obama Has No Budget Plan
In reality, however, the president is calling for tax increases on households earning as little as $250,000 per year. While that’s certainly not poor, it’s not Warren Buffett territory, either…

NRO: Exchequer | The Four National Debts
TIPS are a relatively new thing, having been introduced in 1997. They’ve grown popular, from accounting for $33 billion of the national debt in their first year to $640 billion as of March 2011.