Wednesday, May 11, 2011

General Economics

Fox News | Underwater' Homeowners Jump 28 Percent in First Quarter
"Underwater homeowners," or those with negative equity increased from 22 percent a year earlier as home prices slumped 8.2 percent over the past 12 months, the Seattle based real estate company said. About 27 percent of homes with mortgages were "underwater" in the fourth quarter, according to Zillow.
Market Watch | Chinese data raise concerns of slowdown
Chinese economic data released Wednesday showed consumer inflation moderated slightly in April, though remaining at elevated levels, while industrial output was weaker than forecast, amounting to a mixed picture and spurring concerns of a deepening slowdown.
Bloomberg | Trade Deficit in U.S. Widened in March on Oil Imports
The trade gap rose 6 percent to $48.2 billion, the biggest since June, from $45.4 billion in February, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of 72 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected it would widen to $47 billion. Sales abroad climbed by the most in 17 years.
Market Watch | U.S. senators try to end $2 bln big oil tax breaks
Oil and gas companies have been fighting the proposals on Capitol Hill. In a briefing with reporters Monday, the American Petroleum Institute, the main lobbying arm for the industry, said the industry was being singled out because gasoline prices were high.
Roll Call | Energy Debate Is All Wind
With prices at the pump surging over $4 a gallon, the House and Senate could hardly be further apart on what to do, even though both are spending this week on energy bills ostensibly designed to address the issue.
Market Watch | U.S. import prices climb 2.2% in April
U.S. import prices climbed 2.2% in April, the Labor Department said Tuesday, marking the first time prices have climbed over 2% in consecutive months since June 2008.
CNN: Money | Floods drives up gas prices
Flooding along the Mississippi River is driving up gas prices over fears that refineries could become inundated in coming weeks, especially as the deluge heads downriver for Louisiana.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | OWENS: Blotting out oil reality
The last time gasoline prices were as high as they are today was in 2008, and Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president, made it clear that one of his major policy goals was to make fossil fuels expensive, so that “alternative” and “green” sources of energy would be more economically competitive.
WSJ | Washington vs. Energy Security
Even former President Clinton calls the Obama administration's deep water drilling policy 'ridiculous.'
Washington Post | China’s bad economic news is not necessarily good for the U.S.
The implications for the U.S. economy are potentially major. With labor costs soaring in China and the yuan slowly rising, while in the United States productivity soars and the dollar slowly declines, the economic advantages that American companies reap by offshoring production begin to dwindle.
Washington Times | FEULNER: Good for union bosses, bad for the economy
Team Obama’s attack on Boeing will hurt business investment.
National Journal | Rep. Ellmers: Small-Business Grants Critical to Economy
A call for the expedited reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research program.
WSJ | Boeing Is Pro-Growth, Not Anti-Union
Washington's actions have assaulted the capitalist principles that have sustained America's competitiveness since it became the world's largest economy nearly 140 years ago.
Fiscal Times | Home Sales Double Punched by Financial Regulation
The real estate industry will heal over time, as declining prices find an equilibrium level bringing together buyers and sellers. The government should not try propping up sales again; such intervention skews this natural, though painful, process. Among other things, it distorts expectations, which make both buyers and sellers afraid to commit.

Calculated Risk | House Prices declined 1.5% in March, Prices now 4.6% below 2009 Lows
CoreLogic reports the year-over-year change each month, and the headline for this post is for the change from February to March 2011. The CoreLogic HPI is a three month weighted average of January, February and March, and is not seasonally adjusted (NSA).
AEI: American | Manufacturing Makes a Comeback as Shining Star of the U.S. Economy
One of the most important economic stories of the year so far is the impressive rebound in U.S. manufacturing. After years of reports that the American manufacturing sector was dying, it’s now at the very forefront of the recovery and is leading the United States as one the strongest sectors in the economy.
Calculated Risk | Mortgage Purchase application activity increases, Mortgage Rates lowest in 2011
The MBA reports: Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey.

Heritage Foundation | Natural Gas Vehicle Subsidies Hurt Consumers
The bipartisan New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NATGAS) Act provides preferential tax treatment to subsidize the production, use, and purchase of natural gas vehicles (NGVs). Supporters argue that it promotes transportation fuel competition and reduces foreign oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.
RCM: Wells Fargo | Global Reflation Continues Unabated
Whether the Federal Reserve accepts it or not, QE2 is contributing its share to global reflation. Import and export prices, once again in April, were a testament to the success of this monetary policy stance.


Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Politico | Bring home foreign earnings
It is estimated that a repatriation measure would move nearly $1 trillion from foreign banks back into the U.S.

Health Care

Fox News | Virgina Health Care Lawsuits Face Critical Court
Critics of President Obama's health care overhaul will have little to cheer from the arguments heard in a federal courtroom Tuesday of the first two cases to reach appellate judges in the nationwide fight against the controversial 2010 law.
Fox News | Romney's Health Care Problem is Bigger than the Mandate
The general assumption in the pundit class is that Romney's great political vulnerability is the provision in his 2006 law that, like Obama's law, requires individuals buy private health insurance or be enrolled in a government program.


Bloomberg | BOE Signals Rate Increase This Year
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said that inflation remains “uncomfortably high,” and officials signaled they may need to raise interest rates later this year even as the economy struggles to build momentum.
Market Watch | Fed will have to act sooner, top forecasters say
The U.S. economy is operating far below its potential, but the huge output gap doesn’t mean that inflation is contained, according to two top economic forecasters, who believe the Federal Reserve will be forced to tighten monetary policy sooner rather than later.
National Journal | For Paul's Fed Hearing, Mostly Sound and Fury
Paul has long been a leading figure in a movement to revamp the conduct of U.S. monetary policy and set the currency again on a gold standard. His accession this year to chairman of the subcommittee charged with Fed oversight has given him a new platform to espouse these beliefs, but chairmanship or not, the Fed isn’t going anywhere.
WSJ | How to Turn 100 Trillion Dollars Into Five and Feel Good About It
The Highest-Denominated Bill Ever Issued Gives Value to Worthless Zimbabwe Currency.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Minyanville | Five Things You Need to Know: Headline of the Decade, "Bernanke's QE2 Averts Deflation, Spurs Rally, Expands Credit"
How quickly we forget.
Minyanville | Housing-Adjusted CPI, Gold, and the Deflation Grand Supercycle Theory
In light of reported inflation, it's time to take another look at a CPI adjusted for housing prices. Plus, why the deflationists got it right.


Bloomberg | U.S. Partisan Divides Harden on Debt Accord
Lawmakers in both parties said their options were narrowing for reaching an accord on reducing long- term deficits as congressional leaders rejected key elements of a possible bipartisan deal to raise the U.S. debt limit.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
National Journal | Why Is Social Security Absent From Deficit-Reduction Debate?
Perhaps most importantly, Social Security’s financing challenge isn’t contributing directly to the deficit right now, and won’t for decades.
FT | The eurozone’s journey to defaults
A story is told of a man sentenced by his king to death. The latter tells him that he can keep his life if...

Cato@Liberty | Let’s Copy the Baltic Nations and Really Cut Spending
Even the House Republican Study Committee budget allows spending to increase, on average, by 1.7 percent each year for the next decade.

Mercatus Center | The Debt‐Inflation Cycle and the Global Financial Crisis
Writing over 230 years ago, Adam Smith noted the ‘juggling trick’ whereby governments hide the extent of their public debt through ‘pretend payments.’


Calculated Risk | BLS: Job Openings increased in March, Highest since 2008
In general job openings (yellow) has been trending up - and are up 16% from March 2010. However the overall turnover remains low.