Thursday, August 11, 2011

General Economics

Market Watch | Foreclosure activity drops to 44-month low
Foreclosure filings fell to a 44-month low in July, according to RealtyTrac, but the company’s chief executive said processing delays continue to be the driving force behind the drop in foreclosure activity.
WSJ | Penny-Pinching Puts Recovery on Thin Ice
The past week's market meltdown is confirming what many business leaders and consumers were already thinking—that the economy is close to tilting back into recession and therefore they need to cling to every penny.
Market Watch | U.S. trade gap for June widens unexpectedly
The U.S. trade deficit widened unexpectedly in June, reaching its highest level in almost three years as the nation’s exports were held in check by the global slowdown, according to government data Thursday.
Fox News | Top 10 states by foreclosure rate, July
Here is a list of the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates in the first half of this year. The ratio shows, for example, that one out of every 115 households in Nevada received a foreclosure notice in July. Also highlighted: The number of properties that received notices.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Post | America’s debt is not its biggest problem
Revenue increases may be part of the solution, but even then, at some imbalanced ratio of spending cuts — such as three or four dollars of spending cuts to one dollar of tax hikes — the thesis assumes that markets and economic growth require what in essence is a fiscally contractionary step, reminiscent of International Monetary Fund policies in emerging markets during past decades.
NYT | Where Will Growth Come From?
Never has the world economy depended so much on the success of developing nations. A misguided focus on budget cutting has plunged the European Union and the United States down paths that will prolong their economic stagnation and perhaps tip them into another recession.
WSJ | America as Less Than No. 1
The U.S. is far from finished. The private economy—from the biggest corporations to innumerable dreamers launching start-ups—is fit and eager. But make no mistake: The U.S. has taken a hard hit to its 65-year status as the world's pre-eminent nation.
Market Watch | Get used to slow economy, top forecaster says
The U.S. economy is idling at the side of the road, waiting for the usual drivers of recovery — housing and consumer spending — to catch up.
CNN: Money | China's banks: The only certainty is uncertainty
Figuring out the health of Chinese banks is a blind man's game, but the risks to the sector are unmistakably piling up.
Washington Times | NUGENT: Presidential master of economic disaster
Obama proves again that liberals precipitate financial free-fall.

Financial Times | The ‘Made in China’ myth – it’s all American
Whereas goods labeled “Made in China” make up 2.7% of U.S. consumer spending, only 1.2% actually reflects the cost of the imported goods. Thus, on average, of every dollar spent on an item labeled “Made in China,” 55 cents go for services produced in the United States.
Heritage Foundation | The United States, Free Trade, and the Economics of Lost Opportunities
These agreements fell to the wayside in the midst of the debt ceiling debates; however, U.S. producers and workers have been feeling the pinch as other countries have already entered into FTAs with these nations.

Health Care

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Three Simple Ways Medicare Can Save Money
Price fixing can be costly. The government should embrace alternatives like concierge physician arrangements.

Heritage Foundation | More Tax Subsidies for Abortion in Obamacare
The HHS interpretation underscores again the validity of concerns that Obamacare’s provisions leave many loopholes for direct payments and subsidies for abortions.


CNN: Money | Tax hike on the rich would impact just 3% of taxpayers
Americans earning $1 million or more were even more rare, comprising just 0.2% of total tax filers and accounting for a mere 236,883 of the 140 million tax returns received in 2009. The wealthiest taxpayers -- those earning $10 million or more in adjusted gross income -- are even less prevalent. There were only 8,274 people belonging to that elite club, according the IRS.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Politico | Pat Toomey: No big tax hikes for super committee
Newly appointed super committee member Sen. Pat Toomey vowed on Thursday that major tax hikes “are not going to be part of this,” but said he is looking toward reforms of entitlement programs and the tax code.

CRS | Energy Tax Incentives: Measuring Value Across Different Types of Energy Resources
The majority of energy produced in the United States is derived from fossil fuels. In recent years, however, revenue losses associated with tax incentives that benefit renewables have exceeded revenue losses associated with tax incentives benefitting fossil fuels.


Politico | Deficit hits $1.1 trillion, Treasury says
In July alone, the government spent $129.38 billion more than it took in, down from $165 billion a year earlier. All but $8 billion of that $36 billion difference came from one-time transactions made in 2010, Treasury said.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Politico | Trouble ahead: Debt deal like 3-D chess
The House and Senate members of the new bipartisan deficit reduction super committee have now been named and they may soon start hearing from some unexpected voices. Let’s call them the nine-percenters.If the committee should deadlock, or if Congress rejects its recommendations, a wide range of federal beneficiaries would confront a 9 percent across-the-board, line-by-line cut on their appropriations come Jan. 1, 2013.
Minyanville | Could Unspent Stimulus Money Be Used to Fend Off a New Recession?
It's possible that the billions in stimulus the federal government still has left could be spent to counteract the fallout from the European debt crisis and S&P's downgrade of the US credit rating.
Cato Institute | Two of the All-Time Greatest Successes in Cutting Taxes and Spending
Federal spending has been out of control for so long, it's hard to imagine how big cuts in taxes and spending — actual cuts, not baseline cuts — could ever be achieved.


WSJ | Higher Food Prices on Way
The Rising Cost of Commodities This Year Could Hit Store Shelves in 2012.
WSJ | ECB Notes 'Close Call' on Inflation
The European Central Bank's decision next month on whether to temper its inflation warning is a "close call," a top official said in an interview, suggesting sharply weaker economic growth and falling oil prices may spur the central bank to rethink the need for additional rate rises later this year.


Market Watch | Applications for jobless benefits decline
The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits fell below 400,000 last week for the first time since early April, as jobless claims continued a slow downward trend.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | NUGENT: Presidential master of economic disaster
Obama proves again that liberals precipitate financial free-fall.
Politico | Blocking trade deal is blocking jobs
For the president to hold trade opportunities hostage to a demand backed by his union base leaves us with nothing but missed opportunities. Meanwhile, it keeps U.S. employers from expanding their businesses in a way that could lead to more jobs for the workers that the administration claims it wants to help.
AEI: | Missing Jobs and How We Can Find Them
Given the "official" end of the recession in 2009, the economy should have been in recovery for the past two years. If only we were so lucky. For many Americans the recession is far from over.