Monday, June 20, 2011

General Economics

Bloomberg | Oil Drops to Four-Month Low, Trades Below 200-Day Average on Europe Crisis
Oil fell to the lowest in four months in New York, bringing its loss from this year’s peak to 20 percent, on speculation a weakening global economy and Greece’s debt crisis will lead to reduced fuel demand.
Market Watch | How the Greek debt crisis could slam U.S. savers
Rioters demanding an end to Greek budget austerity programs pushed global financial markets to the brink of disaster last week — but only the brink.
Fox Business | Japan More Optimistic on Economy, But Trade Disappoints
The Japanese government upgraded its view of the economy's performance and outlook for the first time in four months on Monday, but disappointing report data showed that the recovery from the March earthquake and tsunami would be anything but smooth.
Reuters | OECD's Gurria sees no global double-dip slump
The world economy is slowing down due to a combination of factors such as the euro zone's debt problems and a weak U.S. housing sector, but it is not headed for a double-dip slump, the head of the OECD said on Monday.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Politico | Sprucing up our energy supply
If you were enraptured with the cap and trade debates in the House Energy and Commerce Committee two years ago, you're likely already familiar with my passion and advocacy for energy produced from woody biomass.
Financial Times | America flirts with a fate like Japan’s
The stalling of the US recovery raises big scary questions. After a recession this economy usually gets people back to work quickly. Not this time. Progress is so slow, the issue is not so much when America will return to full employment but what "full employment" will mean by the time it does.
Washington Times | YOUNG: It’s the recovery, stupid
Republicans can saddle Obama with failure to jump-start the economy.
AEI | Gangster Government Attack on Oil Companies
As Carney points out, the main feature of the Democrats' bill, which was defeated in the Senate but which we probably have not heard the last of, was to deny five major oil companies the domestic production tax credit that is available to all manufacturers and mining companies, including oil companies.

Mercatus: Neighborhood Effects | New Jersey’s pension reforms
While these reforms were politically difficult to accomplish they are also modest relative to the magnitude of the problem. The legislation includes a provision that allows contribution rates to be lowered by a pension oversight committee when the fund hits 80 percent funded. The problem is what they calculate to be 80 percent funded is closer to 40 percent funded.
Cato @ Liberty | This Week in Government Failure
Over at Downsizing the Federal Government, we focused on the following issues this past week:
Econlog | Market Discipline vs. Regulation in Finance
Ask a lefty what caused the financial crisis, and the answer will be that there was too little regulation and too much reliance on market discipline, which did not work.

RCM: Wells Fargo | Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary
The U.S. economy got off to a rough start in the second quarter, but just how rough is only now emerging from the economic data.

Health Care

CNN: Money | Phantom pharmacy - A growing health care fraud
Like a nasty bug, a new fraud is spreading through the health care system. Criminal enterprises posing as pharmacies are billing Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers for fake prescriptions and bilking health care out of millions of dollars, federal officials say.
CNN: Money | Why can't we fix Medicare once and for all?
We can try to fix Medicare in two ways. One is a proven winner, the other a proven loser. The stakes could scarcely be higher -- and right now we're betting on the loser.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Politico | Give patients control of health care
Trustees of the Sociazl Security and Medicare trust funds released a report on the tow programs' finanical status and news awas not good: Medicare is likely to go bankrupt by 2024 - five years earlier than last year's estimate.

Heritage Foundation | Shocking Study Results Reveal Moral Imperative to Fix Medicaid
The results were jaw-dropping. While specialists turned away 11 percent of privately insured children, 66 percent of children with Medicaid were unable to get an appointment. For those who did, the waiting time was 22 days longer than for other patients.

NBER | The Doctor Might See You Now: The Supply Side Effects of Public Health Insurance Expansions
In the United States, public health insurance programs cover over 90 million individuals. Changes in the scope of these programs, such as the Medicaid expansions under the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, may have large effects on physician behavior. This study finds that following the implementation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, physicians decreased the number of hours spent with patients, but increased their participation in the expanded program.


CNN: Money | Pawlenty's super-rich tax cuts
Under the terms of his recently revealed economic plan, Americans in the top 20% of earners would see their taxes cut by an average of $23,500, an 8.6 percentage point drop in their tax rate, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
National Journal | U.S. Companies Advocate Tax Break on Offshore Profits
The proposal would reduce the federal income tax owed on offshore corporate profits that are returned to the United States. The tax on those profits would drop from 35 percent to 5.25 percent for one year.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Minyanville | Federal Tax Receipts Show Economy Grinding to a Halt
With the Fed now set to end its program of quantitative easing for the time being and government spending set to decline, the squeeze should worsen in coming months.


Politico | Budget woes threaten infrastructure
The federal, state, and local officials with a large share of the responsibility for keeping the lights on and the spigots flowing must also deal with their own red ink. That means a problem of staggering proportions, especially considering many of the naiton's power plants, power lines and water systems are nearing the end of their useful life after enduring for more than a century.
Bloomberg | A Cautionary Tale of Three Fiscal Crises: Simon Johnson
In today’s world, there are three kinds of fiscal crises brought on by too much government spending, and three kinds of responses. We can call them the nightmare scenario, the preemptive experiment and the head-in- the-sand model.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Daily Caller | Congress can’t keep raising the debt limit
Every day, millions of hard working business owners, and the good people that work with them, struggle to build a good life for themselves and their families. They are the backbone of America. They work hard and play by the rules. And they live within their means. Why can't Washington?
WSJ | Five Lessons for Deficit Busters
A recent study of successful deficit reductions found they averaged more than $5 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes.
Washington Post | First rule of economics: Do no harm
Those who are concerned about the national debt and thereby oppose raising the debt ceiling risk adding dramatically to the debt if they refuse to act. Two leading economic officials made that point in different venues last week.


Market Watch | Fed set to cut growth forecast during meeting
When it comes to economic growth forecasts, the Federal Reserve, on paper, is as bullish as they come.
Bloomberg | Pound Gains Versus Euro as Officials Fail to Agree on Greek Bailout Loan
The pound advanced versus the euro after European governments failed to agree on releasing a loan payment to Greece, making sterling-denominated assets more attractive.
LA Times | More Fed stimulus? Don't count on it
The economy is weakening again just as the Fed is wrapping up its $600-billion bond-buying program, but the risk of inflation argues against another round of stimulus. Besides, the Fed believes the economy is merely in a 'soft patch' and growth will speed up this summer.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Minyanville | US Consumer Price Index to Drop in June
Changes in the CPI inflation rate on a year-ago basis and especially CPI ex-shelter are explained by changes in the oil price compared to a year ago.

Cato @ Liberty | Boost the Money Supply, Raise Interest Rates
The rate of broad money growth (M3) in the United States is weak (see the accompanying chart).  The ultra-low federal funds rate (0.25%) has acted to keep a lid on broad money growth and, in turn, economic activity.  Yes, “low” interest rates imposed by the Fed are contributing to a credit crunch and anemic money growth.
Calculated Risk | FOMC Meeting Preview
There will be a two day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. I expect no changes to the Fed Funds rate, or to the program to reinvest principal payments, or to the Large Scale Asset Purchase program that is scheduled to end this month.
Econlog | What's Different About Banks?
I think that the most important thing that differentiates banks or bank-like firms from other firms is that it is easy for short-term results to be misleading. That is because banks borrow short and lend long.


Politico | Democrats eye new jobs agenda
Senate Democrats are beginning to fear that the country's increasingly dim economic outlook will cost them their seates in 2012 and are trying to craft a new agenda aimed at spurring job creation.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Post | The great jobs mismatch
You might think (I did) that with almost 14 million Americans unemployed — and nearly half those for more than six months — that companies could fill almost any opening quickly. Not so. Somehow, there’s a mismatch between idle workers and open jobs. Economists call this “structural unemployment.”
News week | It’s Still the Economy, Stupid
Fourteen million Americans remain out of work, a waste of our greatest resource. The 42nd president has more than a dozen ideas on how to attack the jobs crisis.