Monday, June 27, 2011

General Economics

CNN: Money | Patent reform is finally on its way
Patent reform cleared another major hurdle on Thursday, when the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill that would fundamentally change the way the government treats intellectual property.
WSJ | New Orders Echo Uneven Recovery
Orders for long-lasting goods such as cars and washing machines increased in May after an April decline, as the factory sector—and the U.S. economy more broadly—continued its fitful recovery.
CNN: Money | The 11th hour stimulus push
Recovery Act money has dried up. The Fed's bond buying program will end this month. Economic growth remains anemic, and there are signs of further slowing.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | REAGAN: Reagan’s vision lives on in Texas
More than three decades ago, my father took ownership of the smoking ruins of the American economy armed with nothing more than four very basic principles: Keep taxes low, restrain government spending, minimize the amount of regulation on private enterprise and keep the money supply sound.
Washington Post | Can global economic policy be freed from its paralysis?
To be fair, some Keynesian economists argue that the problem is timidity, not impotence. Governments could do more; they just aren’t. They could spend more or cut taxes more; budget deficits — at least in the United States — don’t matter much at the moment. The Fed could have a QE3, buying more bonds to try to lower long-term interest rates.
WSJ | Money-Market Mayhem
Once again, regulators miss the systemic risk right in front of them.
RCM | Social Security Shutdown? Bring It On!
That's right. Tell Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Biden, and the whole gang of politicians claiming to represent the little guy that you will vote to increase the debt ceiling provided they join in passing a bill subjecting every dollar of federal entitlement spending to means testing.
Bloomberg | Why China’s Heading for a Hard Landing, Part 1: A. Gary Shilling
Few countries are more important to the global economy than China. But its reputation as an unstoppable giant -- as a country with an unending supply of cheap labor and limitless capacity for growth -- masks some serious and worsening economic problems.

Café Hayek | Economic Growth Does Not Eliminate Scarcity
Resources will always be scarce.  A thing is not scarce if and only if that thing is instantly and fully available without requiring of each and every consumer of that thing any choices or conscious actions directed at acquiring that thing.  Some of the non-scarce things that are useful to human beings are breathable air and gravity.
Calculated Risk | Schedule for Week of June 26th
This will be busy week for economic data. The key releases will be the ISM manufacturing index on Friday, Case-Shiller house prices (April) on Tuesday, and auto sales on Friday.
Café Hayek | On the Finiteness of Resources
What is and isn’t a resource is determined by human ingenuity.  Likewise, human ingenuity determines how much “utility” – satisfaction; gratification; pleasure; relief-of-felt-uneasiness (call it what you will) – can be gotten at any moment in time from any given unit of physical stuff. 
Calculated Risk | Unofficial Problem Bank list at 1,001 Institutions and Transition Matrix
Note: this is an unofficial list of Problem Banks compiled only from public sources. This post includes an update to the transition matrix.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Survey: Banks Easing Lending Standards, but Not for Consumers
Here’s a glimmer of good news for the economy. An annual survey by a key bank regulator showed some signs that the nation’s banks are easing underwriting standards after three years of broad tightening of lending terms.

BEA | Personal Income Rises in May
Personal income increased 0.3 percent in May, the same as in April. Wages and salaries, the largest component of personal income, increased 0.2 percent in May, after increasing 0.4 percent in April.
RCM: Wells Fargo | Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary
First-quarter GDP was revised up to 1.9 percent growth versus a previously reported 1.8 percent. On the negative side, both the GDP price deflator and the core PCE deflator were revised up.


Fox News | Republicans Say No to Tax Hikes, Look for Other Revenues, Benefits Reform
The debt ceiling debate has stalled over the issue of raising taxes, and the Senate minority leader and his chief whip said Sunday they aren't going to allow that to happen.

Heritage Foundation | CBO Figures Once Again Prove Tax Hikes Unnecessary to Fix Budget
The CBO calculates that if Congress leaves the tax code as it is today—which would include permanently extending the 2001/2003 tax cuts for all taxpayers (even those greedy, job-producing rich folks and small businesses), patching the alternative minimum tax so it does not impact middle-income families, and continuing a host of other tax-reducing provisions that regularly expire—tax revenues would exceed their historical average of 18 percent of GDP in 2021.

Health Care

National Journal | Wisconsin Cuts Funds to Planned Parenthood
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a budget Sunday that cuts education and health clinics -- including Planned Parenthood clinics -- to plug a $3 billion shortfall without raising taxes, AP reported. The two-year, $66 billion budget passed in the state legislature without a single Democratic vote. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America denounced the budget, which eliminated state and federal funding for the organization’s clinics.


Bloomberg | Fed May Buy $300 Billion in Treasuries After QE2
The Federal Reserve will remain the biggest buyer of Treasuries, even after the second round of quantitative easing ends this week, as the central bank uses its $2.86 trillion balance sheet to keep interest rates low.
Fiscal Times | Core Inflation Rises--Interest Rates May Follow
The inflation outlook is taking a new twist. So far the story has been dominated by surging prices for gasoline and food. Not to worry, many economists said, core inflation—which excludes the volatile energy and food sectors—was tame. Not anymore. Now core inflation is picking up, adding new pressure on household budgets and complicating the Federal Reserve’s efforts to balance its twin goals of containing inflation and reducing unemployment.
Bloomberg | Ron Paul’s Anti-Fed Message Gains Respect
Although political analysts give the elder Paul little chance of emerging as President Barack Obama’s challenger, his limited-government goals echo through the Tea Party movement, the cadre of activists that helped Republicans gain control of the House in the 2010 election.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Barron's | Is Bernanke Playing Politics?
The supposedly party-neutral Fed chief once again parrots the Democratic line on the deficit.

Free Banking | The Problem is Central Banking not Fractional Reserve Banking
In some free-market circles fractional reserve banking (FRB) is blamed for everything from business cycles to bad breath.  Defenders are seen as apologists for inflation and fraud.  Thankfully these views remain a minority because they are gravely mistaken.  As I, and other Austrian monetary theorists, such as George Selgin and Larry White, have argued, there’s nothing wrong with FRB that getting rid of a central bank can’t cure.  Fractional reserve banking works just fine in a free market.


WSJ | Obama Joins Tense Debt Talks
Monday Meetings Aim to Break Logjam; Both Sides Remain Far Apart on Taxes as Deadline Looms.
Bloomberg | Pelosi Says U.S. Debt-Ceiling Deal Must Reduce Tax Subsidies for Companies
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said reductions in “tax subsidies” for companies must be part of any deal to cut the U.S. budget deficit and increase the federal debt ceiling.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | A Path to a Budget Pact
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the U.S. deficit, Europe's woes and overhauling the corporate tax system.
FT | A fiscal policy fit for the next crisis
The debt-ceiling talks in Washington have stumbled again. The sticking point, as before, is taxes.
WSJ | The Local Government Pension Squeeze
Annual retiree costs in Providence, R.I., now amount to an astounding 50% of city tax collections.

Heritage Foundation | How Much Do We Owe? That’s the $62 Trillion Question
It turns out this number — a staggering debt of $534,000 per household — has caused quite the controversy.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Guest Contribution: What Happens if U.S. Defaults?
As debt talks broke down today, concerns were raised about a U.S. default. Maury Harris, chief U.S. economist for UBS Investment Bank, and Drew T. Matus, senior U.S. economist, UBS Investment Bank, look at the potential effects.
Forbes: Back on the Margin | Seven Questions To Ask About Any Congressional Debt-Limit Deal
...negotiators already had tentatively identified more than $2 trillion in spending cuts during the next 10 years.
Heritage Foundation | The European Debt Crisis: A Preview of U.S. Woes?
Similar issues are confronting both the U.S. and Europe today. As the Grecian debt tragedy unfolds, the underlying fear is that it may be a prequel to what will happen here.
Cato@Liberty | $1 Trillion in Phony Spending Cuts?
In the Washington Post Friday, Ezra Klein partly confirmed what I fear the Republican strategy is for the debt-limit bill—get to the $2 trillion in cuts promised through accounting gimmicks.


USA TODAY | Sad summer ahead for teen employment
Seasonal job prospects are so tight that three out of four teens won't have a job this summer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Reason | The Unseen Effects of the Stimulus
Did the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act destroy jobs or create them?
CNN Money | Welcome to the world of jobless stagflation
We're living with slowing growth, high unemployment, and accelerating inflation. Oh, and a Federal Reserve that consistently makes inaccurate projections.