Friday, May 20, 2011

General Economics

Market Watch | Corn, wheat prices ride torrent of weather shocks
Torrential rains, flooding, droughts and searing heat sound like an apocalypse in the making, but they’re all part of the normal risks facing agricultural commodities each crop season and lately, every day.
CNN: Money | Mississippi floods threaten gas prices
Nearly 15% of the nation's refining capacity and hundreds of oil wells are at risk as the flood crest along the swollen Mississippi river makes its way into Louisiana over the next few days.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Investors | Economic Destiny Comes Down To Obama Vs. Ryan
President Obama talks a lot about "winning the future." But to a large degree, America's future will be determined by the ongoing budget debate between him and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, with the American people deciding the outcome.
Washington Times | LAMBRO: Obama’s economic seesaw
Gas prices, unemployment, deficit go up; president’s poll numbers go down.
WSJ | Trade Extortion Assistance
Obama throws up a new union barrier to Korea, Colombia and Panama.
CNN: Money | Do falling gas prices spell recession?
Sick of high energy prices? You may soon have more relief than you'd like.
Bloomberg | Bundesbank Says German Economy to Weaken
The German Bundesbank said Europe’s largest economy will probably lose some growth momentum over the coming months after an “explosive” start to the year.
Minyanville | How Severe Will a US Economic Slowdown Be?
The world is headed for an economic slowdown, according to the ECRI Long Leading Index of global industrial growth, and the US will most definitely play a part in shaping it.

Atlantic | When Should Governments Contract Out?
Matt Yglesias points out that prison privatization has not been the success its proponents suggested.  Costs seem to be higher in many places, and the prison privatization has not eroded the power of the prison lobby, but merely replaced it with another group of lobbyists:
Calculated Risk | Mortgage Delinquencies by State: Percent and Number
Earlier the MBA released a graph of the percent of loans "in foreclosure" by state. The following graph is similar, but includes all delinquent loans (sorted by percent seriously delinquent).
Forbes | How The Government Created A Financial Crisis
Facing double digit inflation, double digit interest rates and soon to be double digit unemployment, President Reagan came into office with a four point economic program on which he had explicitly campaigned, fundamentally changing the course of American economic policy.  As discussed in my recent op-ed, “Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics: Facts and Figures,” those four points were:
NRO: The Corner | Don’t Be Fooled
We should fear a default. But it’s not the default that Secretary Geithner has been warning the country about. It is the one that happens some time down the road if Congress never cleans its financial house.

RCM: Wells Fargo | Existing Home Sales Slide in April
Existing home sales eased 0.8 percent in April to a 5.05 million-unit annual pace. Sales slid in most regions of the country, except for the Midwest, which saw a 5.7 percent gain on the month. Inventories increased.
NBER | Terms of Trade and Global Efficiency Effects of Free Trade Agreements, 1990-2002
This paper infers the terms of trade effects of Free Trade Agreements (FTA's) with the structural gravity model. Using panel data methods to resolve two way causality between trade and FTA's, we estimate direct FTA effects on bilateral trade volume in 2 digit manufacturing goods from 1990-2002.

Health Care

National Journal | HHS Helps States Gain More Control Over Insurance Rates
States and the federal government will double-check insurance-rate increases of more than 10 percent under new rules released by the Health and Human Services Department on Thursday.
National Journal | Studies Say Unplanned Pregnancies Cost Taxpayers $11 Billion a Year
A study by the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute found that two-thirds of births from unintended pregnancies in 2006 were paid for by public insurance plans such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. A separate study by the Brookings Institution came up with similar numbers.
WSJ | Health Premium Increases to Face New Scrutiny
Starting in September, health insurance companies that raise premiums 10% or more a year will face greater scrutiny from state or federal regulators, according to a federal regulation released Thursday.


Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Both Parties Wrong on Tax Breaks for Big Oil: Caroline Baum
Both parties are missing the boat. By confining their disagreement to select deductions for a few oil producers, lawmakers are squandering an opportunity to examine all forms of tax breaks and make a real dent in the deficit.


WSJ | The Dollar Takes a Beating
Poor U.S. economic data continued to argue for an ultra loose U.S. monetary policy Thursday, weighing the dollar down against currencies with more appealing interest-rate outlooks.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
CNBC | PBOC's Vicious Circle on Policy Means More RRR Hikes
China's central bank is caught in a vicious circle, one that means there will be no let up in its fight to keep sucking funds out of the banking system via further increases in already record high reserve requirements.
Minyanville |
QE put money into the market, but now the Treasury must borrow more to refund that. What goes around comes around.


WSJ | Democrats Unhurried in Work on Budget
Senate Democratic leaders said Thursday they weren't yet ready to move ahead with a 2012 budget proposal, amid continuing differences within the party over the right balance between spending cuts and tax increases.
WSJ | Debt Calculations Weigh on Restructuring Decisions
For the first time this week, a taboo was lifted. European officials can now use the "R" word— restructuring—in sentences that don't also have "not" in them.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | VERSACE: Recognizing Debt Ceiling Day
Yep, as most if not all of us have heard by now, the authority Congress had given the Treasury to borrow money ended Monday.
Politico | Budget surplus to deficit: How we got here
It's crude but fair summary of the two presidents based on new data mapping how the nation moved from surpluses in 2001 to record deficits over the past decade. And it takes on special meaning given the turmoil these days in the Senate, whether in producing a budget, salvaging months of work by the bipartisan Gang of Six or expanding the Treasury's borrowing authority to aver default.

Heritage Foundation | U.S. Hits Debt Ceiling, but Default Is Completely Avoidable
Now that the U.S. hit its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling on May 16 and the doomsday predictions of the financial apocalypse that was going to tank the economy failed to materialize, the question remains: How should Congress respond?


Washington Times | DeMint rips labor board, Democrats in Boeing flap
At issue is locating an aircraft manufacturing plant in a right-to-work state.
CNN: Money | A tug-of-war over middle-class jobs
A factory in South Carolina could soon be home to 1,000 new workers assembling Boeing's newest commercial jet. But as it prepares for the first jet to roll off the line this summer, Boeing must first go head to head with the National Labor Relations Board.
Fox News | Improving the Economy 'One Job at a Time'
While the nation's sluggish economy is showing signs of rebounding, government figures show 13 million people are still looking for work. In San Francisco, Carla Emil wants to help them through a website called