Wednesday, April 27, 2011

General Economics

Market Watch | U.S. home prices fall 1.1% in February
U.S. home prices fell in February for the seventh straight month, according to a closely followed index released Tuesday, with the beleaguered housing market approaching a double-dip recession.
NYT | Government, Too, Has Trouble Selling Buildings
The government owns or manages more than 900,000 buildings or other structures across the country — office buildings, courthouses, warehouses and other property types — making it the nation’s largest landlord. But like the former N.I.H. building, about 14,000 are no longer needed and are costly to maintain. An additional 55,000 are regarded as underutilized.
Market Watch | Orders for durable goods rise 2.5% in March
Orders for long-lasting U.S. goods bounced back in March, spurred by higher demand for transportation equipment, computers and defense-related products.
Fox News | A look at economic developments around the globe
A look at economic developments and activity in major stock markets around the world Tuesday:
WSJ | Dow Rises 115.49, New 3-Year High
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 115.49 points, or 0.9%, to finish at 12595.37, a fresh three-year high. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 11.99 points, or 0.9%, to 1347.24, while the Nasdaq Composite added 21.66 points, or 0.8%, to 2847.54.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Fox News | A snapshot of the AP Economy Survey results
The quarterly AP Economy Survey drew upon forecasts from 42 economists. Here are their average predictions:
FP | More Than 1 Billion People Are Hungry in the World
For many in the West, poverty is almost synonymous with hunger. Indeed, the announcement by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2009 that more than 1 billion people are suffering from hunger grabbed headlines in a way that any number of World Bank estimates of how many poor people live on less than a dollar a day never did.
Politico | George W. Bush: Drill more to lower gas prices
"I would suggest Americans understand how supply and demand works. And if you restrict supplies of crude, the price of oil is going to go up and it affects gasoline".
Washington Times | EDITORIAL: EPA suburban sprawl brawl
Global-warming agency’s carbon footprint deepens in greener pastures.
AEI | Can the Dodd-Frank Act Defeat Financial Crises?
This natural cyclic laity is far more powerful than the thousands or tens of thousands of pages of regulations, which will be the principal memorial of the act.
Heritage Foundation | Time to Face Economic Reality
The first step to recovery, they say, is accepting that you have a problem. In that case, it’s welcome news to hear more and more politicians talking about the problems being brought on by our runaway spending.

The Economist: Free excahnge | First-quarter GDP in line with forecasts
For once, the soothsayers were right. Britain's GDP rose by 0.5% in the first quarter compared with the previous three months, in line with forecasts. Most of the economy had a decent enough start to the year: services output was up by 0.9% and manufacturing grew by 1%.
Cato@Liberty | Obama’s Economic Policies Create Misery
The public has finally started to give President Obama’s economic policies a big “thumbs down”.  This shouldn’t surprise anyone who is familiar with the Misery Index.
The Economist: Free exchange | Bad housing news still isn't that bad
The latest Case-Shiller home price data, for the month of February, are now out, and headlines are sure to be gloomy. Year-on-year, the 20-city index dropped 3.3% in February, down slightly more than in the previous month.
Cato@Liberty | Tina Brown and the Economics of Recession
Talking about royal weddings on NPR, Tina Brown says that there’s high unemployment in Britain, as there was in 1981, because of Conservative governments’ budget cuts (transcript edited to match broadcast):

Heritage Foundation | Ten Economic Lessons from Europe for the U.S. President
As the U.S. tackles its own fiscal situation, here are 10 lessons that it can learn from the European experience.
RCM: Wells Fargo | Consumers Less Despondent in April
U.S. consumer confidence picked up slightly to 65.4 in April from an upwardly revised reading of 63.8 in March. The low reading comes as little surprise given stubbornly high unemployment and rising gas prices.

Health Care

National Journal | Oregon Advances Health Exchange Grant
Republicans in Oregon's House reached a last-minute deal with Democrats on Tuesday to push forward a bill that would allow the state to accept a $48 million federal grant for the technology to set up a health insurance exchange, the Associated Press reports.
National Journal | Most Families Can Afford Coverage Under Health Law, but Poor Still Lag
Federal assistance available under the health reform law will make private insurance affordable to 90 percent of Americans living above the poverty line even though poorer people may end up struggling more to pay out-of-pocket costs, a new report by the Commonwealth Fund found.
Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Medicare As We've Known It Isn't an Option
Paul Ryan's premium support plan is preferable to Obama's rationing panel.

NBER | The Demand for Health Insurance Among Uninsured Americans: Results of a Survey Experiment and Implications for Policy
Most existing work on the price elasticity of demand for health insurance focuses on employees’ decisions to enroll in employer-provided plans. Yet any attempt to achieve universal coverage must focus on the uninsured, the vast majority of whom are not offered employer-sponsored insurance.


National Journal | New Tools Calculate Your Tax Dollars at Work
The moment is probably still etched in your mind. After hours of reading, factoring and figuring, you filed your 2010 tax return.
CNN: Money | Big Oil's $4 billion tax break in doubt
President Obama repeated his call Tuesday for an end to $4 billion in oil industry tax breaks as gas prices approach $4 a gallon and after a top lawmaker indicated a possible shift in Republican policy.
National Journal | Cutting Tax Expenditures Could Burden Middle-Class Taxpayers
Most of the biggest tax breaks benefit people making less than $200,000.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
FT | Tax Reform: No Magic Bullet for Fiscal Crisis
Every deficit reduction plan includes tax reform as a key ingredient of the plan.
Cato Institute | Cutting Expenditure Is A Good Thing
The U.S. faces a fiscal meltdown because government undertakes activities that are not necessary or useful functions of government.


Market Watch | Post-QE2 plans the focus of Bernanke conference
For good reason, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been studying videotapes of foreign central bankers and having staffers pepper him with questions ahead of his first-ever press conference Wednesday to discuss an interest rate decision.
Bloomberg | Dollar Weakens to 16-Month Low Versus Euro Before Fed; Yen Slides on S&P
The dollar dropped to a 16-month low versus the euro on speculation the Federal Reserve will signal today it will hold interest rates steady to support the U.S. economy after its bond-buying program expires in June.
Market Watch | Geithner talks tough on U.S. dollar
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner talked tough on the U.S. dollar Tuesday, saying that the United States will never attempt to lower the value of the greenback to gain an advantage in global trade.
CNN: Money | What's really driving inflation
When Federal Reserve policymakers get together to talk about inflation, they focus on the "core" number, which takes out food and energy.
WSJ | Bernanke's Code: a Guide to Fed Chairman's First Q&A
When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke makes his debut press conference Wednesday, his every word will be parsed for signs of where he hopes to take U.S. monetary policy.
Washington Times | Fed likely to quit buying bonds, putting Congress in debt corner
Bernanke seeks to allay criticism at news conference.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Minyanville | Is US Inflation Nearing A Cyclical Peak?
Why the CPI inflation rate may surprise financial markets on the upside and lend further support to inflation hedges such as gold and silver.
Bloomberg | Fed’s ‘Extended Period’ Pledge May End in 2011, Economists Say
Federal Reserve officials will probably prepare to pull back from record stimulus by dropping a pledge this year to hold the main interest rate near zero for an “extended period,” according to a Bloomberg News survey.
CNN: Money | Critics Say Fed Policies Devalue the U.S. Dollar
"One of the fundamental problems with the U.S. economy right now is the Federal Reserve thinks the answer to all our economic problems is printing money,"
RCM | Let's Be Truthful, Inflation Is Already Here
The rising price of energy, broad-based increases in the price of other commodities, as well as the negative S&P outlook for U.S. debt puts the country in a rapidly changing environment for expected inflation.
AEI: American The Fed vs. the FDIC on Lehman’s Failure
A recent FDIC report on Lehman Brothers’s financial condition before its failure puts in doubt the Federal Reserve’s account of its decision- making, and raises significant questions about the nature of the financial crisis.
Minyanville | High-Risk Bonds and Inflation Expectations
High-risk bonds could benefit from rising inflation expectations until short-term interest rates begin to rise. But have we reached that point when too much of a good thing turns ugly?

WSJ: MarketBeat | Don’t Expect ‘Few Good Men’ Moment from Fed
I just want to go on the record here: tomorrow’s heavily publicized, much ballyhooed Ben Bernanke press conference will ultimately be a nonevent.


CNN: Money | Lobbyists stir about debt ceiling
The Treasury estimates U.S. borrowing will hit the debt ceiling by May 16. The amount of debt subject to the limit can fluctuate on a daily basis, and there are steps the department can take to stave off the day of reckoning.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | American standard: Wall Street piles on the debt
The U.S. economy won't be hitting junk status anytime soon. Well, unless it is what it eats.
Cato Institute | Cutting Expenditure Is A Good Thing
The U.S. faces a fiscal meltdown because government undertakes activities that are not necessary or useful functions of government.

Political Calculations | Writing a Better Balanced Budget Amendment
Back on 3 February 2011, a number of Republican party members in the U.S. Senate introduced Senate Joint Resolution 5, which proposes to amend the U.S. Constitution to require the U.S. Congress to balance the annual budget of the U.S. federal government. The resolution has since been signed on by all the Republican members of the U.S. Senate.
NRO: The Corner | Changes on the State and Municipal Pension Front
State and local pensions always seemed to be a sacred cow, but in recent days I have been reading more and more stories about how states and local governments are slowly but surely making changes to their pension plans.
Heritage Foundation | States Take Action to Combat $1.26 Trillion Shortfall
Wisconsin and Ohio, both of which made headlines for working to get pension costs under control, aren’t the only ones taking action.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Why Do We Have a Debt Ceiling Anyhow?
On the face of it, a federal debt ceiling seems strange. Congress passes spending bills and tax bills, and those decisions lead to bigger or smaller deficits — or once upon a time surpluses — depending on what happens with the economy.


Fox Business | Nokia to Axe 7,000 Jobs in Turnaround Plan
The largest phone maker by volume, Nokia (NOK) is cutting 7,000 jobs and outsourcing its legacy Symbian software in an effort to reduce expenses by 1 billion euros by 2013 as part of  a massive overhaul.