Friday, August 12, 2011

General Economics

WSJ | Retail Sales Move Higher
U.S. retail sales rose in July as consumers spent more on gasoline, electronics and other merchandise, potentially easing concerns that Americans are pulling back as unemployment remains high and the economy shaky.
Bloomberg | Growth Forecasts for U.S. Reduced Through 2013 on Limited Employment Gains
The world’s largest economy will expand at an average 2.3 percent annual rate in the second half of the year, about a percentage point less than projected last month, according to the median forecast of 53 economists polled from Aug. 2 to Aug. 10.
WSJ | Greek Economy Shrinks by 6.9%
Greece's gross domestic product contracted by an annual rate of 6.9% in the second quarter of the year, compared with a negative rate of 8.1% in the first three months of the year, the country's statistics service said Friday.
National Journal | 15 Ways to Jump-Start Economic Growth: Spending Money Edition
With markets trampolining up and down, Washington lawmakers appear to be getting the message that the U.S. economy needs more help—specifically, a renewed push for job creation.
Bloomberg | Euro-Region Industrial Production Fell in June
European industrial production unexpectedly fell in June and France’s economy stalled in the second quarter, adding to signs that growth is losing momentum as governments struggle to contain the debt crisis.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | The Borzi Savings Bomb
An Obama appointee concocts a fictional crisis that will have real costs.
CNN: Money | Don't listen to recession forecasters
Economists say the odds are against a double dip recession, but remember 2008? They've been very wrong before.
AEI | World War II and the Start of the Economic Recovery
In short, the root of prosperity was the same then as now: private capital formation and investment, not consumer or government spending.

Heritage Foundation | U.S. Trade on the Rise in 2011
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) today reported that U.S. trade volume for the first six months of the year was 15.7 percent higher in 2011 than 2010. Exports and imports were both up nearly 16 percent.
Cato @ Liberty | Terminating the Small Business Administration
Established in 1953, the agency had earned the nickname “Small Scandal Administration” by the mid-70s. President Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, called it a “billion dollar waste—a rat hole” that benefited few small businesses, while distorting credit markets.

Health Care

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
AEI | Health Spending Projection Spin Cycle: Rinse and Repeat, or Reset?
The overall cost effects of the new health law are more complex and conjectural, but its feasibility and sustainability remain highly doubtful.
AEI | Response to John Goodman and Thomas Saving on Medicare's Efficiency
Excess cost growth was lower, on average, during that period than during the longer 1975-2008 period. That slowing probably stems, at least in part, from two important shifts: Private health insurance moved away from indemnity policies--which generally reimburse enrollees for their incurred medical costs, and which predominated before the 1990s--and toward greater management of care; and Medicare shifted from cost-based payment methods to fee schedules that seem less conducive to spending growth because price increases are constrained.

Cato @ Liberty | Medicare Fraud: Et Tu, Reverend?
ObamaCare will bring even more fraud. And efforts to combat Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare fraud will always be inadequate until Congress reforms or scraps these entitlement programs.

Heritage Foundation | A Recipe for Reform: Success of Consumer-Driven Principles in Medicare Programs
Already generating tens of billions of dollars annually in deficits, its financial challenges threaten taxpayers and enrollees alike. Moving to a premium-support model would reverse the program’s deterioration by using the dynamics of the free market to contain costs and improve consumer satisfaction.


Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | SENSENBRENNER: European tax on American travel
Climate-change levy is cover for EU money-grubbing.
WSJ | Tax Reform Is the Swiftest Path to Growth
In our search for growth, investment and jobs, tax reform is the best answer. The Treasury Department is set to offer thoughts for tax reform in the coming months. And the imminent expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts guarantees a big tax discussion.
Fox Business | A Quick Tax History: How Did We get Here?
It’s important to have a baseline from which to measure progress and understand comparatively where things stand, whether it is of a financial, physical or mental nature. And so is the case with our five million-plus word tax code. I’m inclined to call it: How the heck did we get here?

Mercatus Center | Kansas Governor Rejects $13 Million in Future Taxes
Newer research by West Virginia University’s Russell Sobel and Charles Crowley takes this idea one step further. They find that even after the federal money goes away, state and local governments tend to increase their own taxes in order to maintain the same level of services.


WSJ | ECB to Reassess Inflation Threat
It is a "close call" whether the European Central Bank will pull back on its warning against inflation, a top official said in an interview, suggesting sharply weaker economic growth and falling oil prices are spurring the bank to rethink its view of the greatest risks to the economy.
Bloomberg | Surging Yuan May Signal Boost for Recovery
The currency climbed 0.8 percent this week, more than any weekly increase since December 2007, breaking through 6.4 per dollar for the first time in 17 years. Today’s closing price in Shanghai was 6.3895. Yuan forwards had the biggest weekly gain since February 2009.
RCM | The Aura Of the Fed Is Gone, Good Riddance
In the wider financial discussion of where we are and where we are going, I think it is safe to say that we are at the end of an era. Not just in one specific aspect, but across a broad spectrum of how we see the world and how we attempt to operate within it.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Financial Times | First of all do no harm, then start thinking
It goes without saying that central banks in western countries should not raise short-term interest rates any further and if possible quietly rein them back towards near-zero. But the US Federal Reserve’s semi-undertaking to hold rates until the middle of 2013 seems a pretty cack-handed way of doing this.
Fiscal Times | Word on the Street: QE3 Is Coming!
The buzz on Wall Street suggests that the Fed is about to embark on another round.
Cato Institute | The Fed Surprises
Instead, the Fed issued a press release in the aftermath of the meeting that caught even its closest watchers off-guard, and is indicative of the state of turmoil in the U.S. economy and financial markets.


National Journal | 11 Ways to Jump-Start Economic Growth: Not Increasing the Deficit Edition
Experts across the ideological spectrum weighed in on how to boost growth through policy changes, use of existing resources, and unconventional ideas. Here is the second wave of suggestions, laying out ideas that wouldn’t cost a penny.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Post | Britain tackles the welfare state
Osborne says America’s welfare reform of 1996 “helped change the debate over here.” Perhaps, but almost 30 percent of public spending here is still for a welfare system under which an unemployed single mother with two children has more disposable income than a postal worker.
WSJ | Happy Cost of Government Day! You Worked for It
From Jan. 1 until today, every penny Americans earned paid for federal, state and local spending and regulations.
CBO | Response to Questions About the Effects of Government Spending on Economic Growth
Changes in government spending can affect the economy in two different ways: in the short term, by changing demand for goods and services and over the long run, by changing the potential supply of goods and services.


CNN: Money | Postal Service asks Congress to allow 120,000 layoffs, overhaul benefits
According to documents obtained by CNNMoney, the United States Postal Service is appealing to Congress to remove collective bargaining restrictions in order to lay off 120,000 workers. It also wants congressional approval to replace existing government health care and retirement plans.
CNN: Money | Americans' bleak outlook on jobs
Americans are feeling pretty grim about jobs these days. Only 29% of respondents to a poll released Friday believe more jobs will be available in their communities a year from now.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Post | Clueless in Washington
It’s sobering that three-fourths of Americans, according to a new Washington Post poll, have little or no confidence in our elected leaders to solve the nation’s economic problems. At this point, though, it’s hardly surprising.

Heritage Foundation | Pennsylvania Considers Changes to Profligate Prevailing Wage Laws
State governments across the nation are looking for ways to tighten their belts in the face of declining tax revenues and growing budget shortfalls. In Pennsylvania, legislators have offered a measure that would, they claim, dramatically reduce the state’s construction costs on public works projects by bringing contractors’ wages in line with the prevailing market rates.