Monday, July 25, 2011

General Economics

Fox News | A look at economic developments around the globe
A look at economic developments and activity in major stock markets around the world Thursday:
NYT | This Week’s Economic Reports
A list of economic reports, corporate earnings and events in Washington this week.
CNN: Money | U.S. lost $14B on auto bailout... Excellent!
Including the $1.3 billion loss on its Chrysler investment, announced Thursday, the United States government has lost about $14 billion on the auto industry bail-out. All in all, it was a bargain. That $14 billion figure is far less than than the $40 billion bath the Congressional Budget Office expected U.S. taxpayers to take in the total auto industry bailout.
Fox News | Economy's spring slump could last through summer
The economy could lapse even further if Congress and the Obama administration fail to reach an agreement on raising the nation's borrowing limit in the coming week.
Roll Call | Supporters See Path to Pass Trade Pacts Soon
Supporters of pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea are holding out hope that Congress might pass the measures before adjourning for the August recess, even as Capitol Hill remains fixated on the looming Aug. 2 deadline when the government bumps against its debt limit.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Financial Times | Washington is drowning America
Across government, leadership positions are unfilled because the administration cannot get its nominees confirmed. Denial of fiscal support is another weapon. The administration’s healthcare reform faces a campaign of legal, procedural and budgetary attrition that is especially vicious.
NYT | The Wrong Way to Free Trade
Bilateral trade agreements are not the same as free trade. Yes, they liberalize trade for the parties involved, but outsiders then face a handicap. The discrimination comes in the form of barriers like tariffs and antidumping charges, which countries impose on imports that they believe are priced artificially low.
Washington Post | Behind economic hard times, fear of the new
Economic weakness in advanced countries stems partly from the residual trauma on consumers and companies following the ferocious 2008-09 financial crisis.

Calculated Risk | Schedule for Week of July 24th
The key economic report for the coming week is the Q2 advance GDP report to be released on Friday.
Heritage Foundation | Tales of the Red Tape: Tackling Serious Matters in Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital is wracked by indecision these days. Raise the debt limit, or no? Don’t ask, don’t tell, or do? And, how will President Obama obfuscate this week on Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Egypt, or Iran? But take heart, dear citizens, all is not so murky.
Econlog | Tom Saving on the Social Security Trust Fund
I've been pointing out for years, as have many economists, that the Trust Fund is a fiction whereby one part of government owes money to another part of government. But what I had failed to do--and what Tom Saving did do--is follow the implications of that fact.
Cato @ Liberty | Bastiat on Free Trade and Living on the State
Bastiat might have something to say about the attitudes and policies that have brought both Europe and the United States to the brink of debt disaster:
Calculated Risk | Unofficial Problem Bank list declines to 993 Institutions
Here is the unofficial problem bank list for July 22, 2011.
NRO: The Corner | Policy Implications of the S&P Warnings
If S&P isn’t bluffing, it means that lawmakers should get serious about reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio, and they should do it quickly. Thankfully, we are not the first nation to struggle with dangerous debt-to-GDP ratio, and thankfully, the academic world has already produced great insights into what can be done to reduce this ratio without hurting the economy.

RCM | Time to X Out the Ex-Im Bank
The Export-Import Bank of the United States picks winners in the U.S. economy,
redistributing resources from the productive sector to its chosen clients. While
it has been self-financing for a number of years, taxpayers remain exposed to tens of billions of dollars of loans and guarantees.
RCm: Wells Fargo | Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary
Economic data released this week came in with largely mixed results and continue to point to an economy that is emerging from a soft patch but with slow momentum.


Politico | A breakthrough on no-taxes pledge?
Norquist is essentially saying that any tax actions that don’t result in federal revenues exceeding the current law Congressional Budget Office baseline would not be deemed a tax increase — under his group’s pledge. This is a critically important clarification.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
AEI | The Terminology of Taxation
Democrats have a tough time selling "revenue increases" to the public.

Health Care

National Journal | North Dakota Denied Insurance-Rule Waiver
Federal officials rejected North Dakota’s request to delay insurance-premium rules on Friday. It is the first state to be denied a waiver on regulations that require insurers to spend the vast majority of premium dollars on medical care.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | The Flight to the Exchanges'
The Wall Street Journal writes that ObamaCare may cause small businesses to drop insurance coverage.

Heritage Foundation | Maine Seeks Escape from Its Own Obamacare-like Problems
Maine is one of the noteworthy states that worked on state health care reform in the spring legislative session. For years, Maine has suffered under poor health policy—leading to fewer insured, skyrocketing premiums, and few coverage choices.


National Journal | Report: Rising Prices Force Reduction in Farm Subsidies
About $11 billion annually is now paid to farmers, half the amount paid out in 2005, and that number could continue to drop if the government eliminates about $5 billion in farm subsidies that aren’t linked to market prices.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Barron's | The Steep Costs of Easy Money
The Fed's loose monetary policies have delivered a body blow to savers—and to the economy.


WSJ | Gridlock for Debt Talks
Parties Remain Split as Deadline Looms, Adding Jitters to Global Markets.
NY Times | Europe’s Troubled Economies Join the Rescue Team
Can a bailout fund whose backers include some of the countries it may be called upon to bail out really succeed?
WSJ | Moody's Cuts Greek Debt Rating Further
Moody's Investors Service Monday slashed the Greek government's debt ratings three notches deeper into junk territory, warning that the nation's newest bailout deal implies a temporary sovereign default and sets a bad precedent in the 17-country euro zone.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | The Debt Ceiling and the Pursuit of Happiness
A welfare state that led to permanent austerity would betray the principles that have made American culture exceptional.
Washington Times | SAUERBREY: Forcing the irresponsible to act responsibly
A balanced budget amendment is the only way to hold legislators in check.
WSJ | Toying With Default
The President isn't serious about real spending cuts.
Washington Times | DE RUGY: Last chance to save Uncle Sam’s credit score
Only serious spending reform can avoid a painful downgrade.

American: Enterprise Blog | Are States’ Budget Surpluses Sustainable?
...through a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases, many states have gone a step further and actually have some funds left over. The key question is whether or not these surpluses are sustainable.
Atlantic: McArdle | Douglas Holtz-Eakin Explains It All to You
In one minute, the former CBO director explains why we need to raise the debt ceiling...
Marginal Revolution | An Unbalanced Budget Amendment
The unbalanced budget amendment is a requirement that in good times the government must run a budget surplus. The virtues of such a rule are that it allows for counter-cylical fiscal policy during a recession. Indeed, it reduces the cost of counter-cyclical fiscal policy because it guarantees a reserve fund for just such emergencies.
Heritage Foundation | White House Confirms It Will Likely Sign Any Debt Deal Congress Sends
In an accidental moment of honesty, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dan Pfeiffer today admitted on Twitter that President Obama will likely sign any debt deal Congress sends his way.


Fox News | How states fared on unemployment benefits
Here are the states with the biggest changes in applications. The data is for the week ending July 9, one week behind the national data.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
CNN Money | One in five American men don't work: Where's the outrage?
Lawmakers in Washington are ignoring the real problem: A generation is losing work skills. We need to fix that.

FT: The A-List | Forget the debt: its jobs that will define Obama’s future
The US unemployment rate reached 9.2 per cent in June, up from 8.8 per cent in March of this year and double the 4.6 per cent rate in 2007 just before the recession began.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Jobless Rates Rise in Most U.S. States
The unemployment rate increased in 28 states in June, reflecting the nationwide increase to 9.2% from 9.1% over the month, the Labor Department said. Some 14 states saw their unemployment rate hold steady while eight logged decreases.
Calculated Risk | Labor Force Participation Rate Update
There will probably be some "bounce back" for both men and women (some of the recent decline is probably cyclical), but the long term trend for men is down.