Tuesday, May 24, 2011

General Economics

Market Watch | China’s current-account surplus shrinks 18%
A broad measure of China’s global trade contracted by nearly one-fifth in the first quarter, though the data were seen as more of a soft patch than as indicating a major trend change that would dent the case for a stronger yuan, analysts said.
Bloomberg | Oil Rises After Biggest Loss in Week; Goldman Sachs Boosts Price Forecast
Oil rose in New York after its biggest loss in more than a week, on signs of shrinking crude inventories and as a drop in the dollar heightened the oil’s appeal for protecting against inflation.
Market Watch | Consumer spending expected to slow down
Despite persistent unease over their personal finances, consumers remain the backbone of the economy, and data to be released this week will show the state of their spending.
CNN: Money | Obama budget chief optimistic on debt deal
A bipartisan group of negotiators is "making progress" toward finding a way to both raise the debt ceiling and whittle down budget deficits, President Obama's top budget chief said Monday.
Fox News | A look at economic developments around the globe
A look at economic developments and activity in major stock markets around the World Monday.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | RAHN: Banking on national economic suicide
New account reporting rule would drive out foreign capital.
Washington Times | VALVO: Energy subsidies threaten to break GOP’s small-government promise
Republicans welcome central planners to natural gas market.
Politico | Lower gas prices are possible now
Excessive speculation defeats the purpose for the commodity markets, which have been largely taken over by new speculators from the capital markets gambling on future price moves. If this practice stops, prices for commodities such as oil and gasoline will fall.
Washington Times | EDITORIAL: The Obama slowdown
Big-government policies continue to drag down the economy.
Minyanville | Why Bernanke Will Be Forced to Institute QE3
Here, the two factors that suggest it's likely we'll see more quantitative easing.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Nearly Half of Americans Are ‘Financially Fragile’
Nearly half of Americans say that they definitely or probably couldn’t come up with $2,000 in 30 days, according to new research, raising concerns about the financial fragility of many households.

NBER | Stock Volatility During the Recent Financial Crisis
This paper uses monthly returns from 1802-2010, daily returns from 1885-2010, and intraday returns from 1982-2010 in the United States to show how stock volatility has changed over time. It also uses various measures of volatility implied by option prices to infer what the market was expecting to happen in the months following the financial crisis in late 2008.
OECD | Compendium of OECD well-being indicators
This Compendium represents one of the first attempts to respond to the demand for comparative information on the conditions of people.s lives in developed market economies. Previous contributions in this field have focused on the conditions of poorer countries and on a more narrow range of dimensions (e.g. Human Development Index). This Compendium extends these efforts on both fronts.


CNN Money | The American tax machine
The Internal Revenue Service keeps 35 agents stationed full time at Exxon Mobil's Houston headquarters, conducting a full-time audit of its books in office space provided by the company.

Cato@Liberty | New Paper Explains Why Low-Tax Jurisdictions Should Resist OECD Attacks against Tax Competition and Fiscal Sovereignty
The OECD, acting at the behest of the European welfare states that dominate its membership, wants the power to tell nations (including the United States!) what is acceptable tax policy.

Health Care

National Journal | Medicare's Actuary Paints a Darker Picture Than Trustees
Spending on hospital and physician services would be more than three times higher than projected if Congress acts to reverse or phase out scheduled Medicare payment reductions, according to a new analysis that casts doubt on the rosier estimates offered by Medicare's trustees earlier this month.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Post | The GOP’s Medicare headache
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the architect of his party’s radical plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, gave a lesson Sunday in stating the obvious: “I don’t consult polls to tell me what my principles are or what our policies should be.” I’d suggest that Republicans with less disdain for public opinion might want to check out the height of the cliff from which Ryan would have them leap.

Heritage Foundation | Medicare’s Worsening Finances: The Other Shoe Drops
A week ago, the Medicare Trustees issued their annual report, which showed that the program is on the fact track to insolvency. The 2011 analysis projected that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund (which funds Medicare Part A) will be insolvent in 2024, and the program’s long-term unfunded obligations—promised benefits that are not paid for—amount to $24.6 trillion.
Cato@Liberty | Once More Into the Obamacare Breach
Today we filed Cato’s sixth brief supporting the various legal challenges to Obamacare, this time in the D.C. Circuit.  Like Tom Joad, wherever the fight has been, we’ve been there, and now it’s in our backyard.


Bloomberg | Treasuries Decline Before $35 Billion Two-Year Auction; U.S. Equities Gain
Treasuries fell before the U.S. government sells $35 billion in two-year securities in the first of three note offerings this week totaling $99 billion.
Market Watch | Euro falls to lowest since March on debt fears
The dollar gained against the euro on Monday, pushing the European unit to a March low, after Standard & Poor’s cut its outlook on Italy and weekend elections in Spain heightened worries European governments were sinking under too much debt.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | The Return of Stagflation
We enter the summer of 2011 facing an ugly combination of inflation and high unemployment. Blame the Federal Reserve.
Minyanville | Why Bernanke Will Be Forced to Institute QE3
Here, the two factors that suggest it's likely we'll see more quantitative easing.


CNN Money | Obama budget chief optimistic on debt deal
Jacob Lew, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told the Economic Club in Washington that he's optimistic about getting a deal done within the group headed by Vice President Joe Biden.
Washington Times | U.S. stocks plunge on European debt worries
After three days of bad news about Europe’s debt crisis sent Asian and European markets down Monday, it was Wall Street’s turn.
National Journal | Economic Insiders Say 'Clean' Debt-Ceiling Vote Unlikely
...almost three-quarters of National Journal’s Economic Insiders thought a vote to raise the debt ceiling would take place within a week of August 2, the date the government would default, according to Treasury Department estimates.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Fortune | Shiller: Let's sell debt tied to GDP to fix the crisis
The economist and housing expert discusses his creative solution to the U.S. debt crisis, why the suburbs are dying, and why we shouldn't be afraid of financial crises.

Bankrupting America | Just how much is $14.3 trillion?
We all know that Washington’s spending has dug the country into a massive hole. But for everyday Americans trying to live within their means on a much smaller scale, it’s difficult to understand the numbers (and the mindset).