Monday, August 15, 2011

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | Will free trade create or kill U.S. jobs?
On one side is big business, that believes opening up trade with other countries will boost sales for U.S. firms, allowing them to hire more workers. But unions argue the deals will mean more low-wage competition for U.S. workers, and more factories being moved overseas.
Bloomberg | Japanese Economy Contracts Less Than Estimated on Post-Tsunami Investment
Gross domestic product shrank at an annualized 1.3 percent rate in the three months ended June 30, marking three consecutive quarters of declines, the Cabinet office said today in Tokyo.
National Journal | Buffett: 'Stop Coddling the Super-Rich'
Buffett’s own income and payroll taxes last year amounted to nearly $7 million dollars. “That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income—and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office,” he said. Their tax burdens, he wrote, averaged 36 percent.
NYT | Looking Ahead to Economic Reports This Week
Data this week will include housing starts, import prices and industrial production and capacity utilization for July (Tuesday); the Producer Price Index for July (Wednesday); and weekly jobless claims, the consumer price index, existing home sales and leading economic indicators for July, and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index for August (Thursday).
National Journal | Gas Still Isn't Cheap, but It Is Cheaper
Gasoline still isn't as cheap as most consumers would like, but it is now cheaper in most states than it was at the beginning of the summer driving season.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | OWENS: Ignoring energy gauge while economy tanks
Obama won’t let Americans tap their own continent’s resources.
WSJ | This Time, Maybe the U.S. Is Japan
It is a comparison that underlines the current plight of the U.S. economy: as bond investors grapple with their new reality—a downgraded U.S. credit rating and two more years of zero-interest rates—they are increasingly looking to Japan for guidance.
Washington Times | ANDREWS: The buck stops with … the Tea Party
Conscientious citizens step up while political class wallows in denial.
Washington Times | EDITORIAL: Kick junkies off welfare
Taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize drug addicts.
Washington Times | Washington Times SANDERS: What Obama could do
Ironically, the world crisis has proved one thing: a continuing, overwhelming faith in America’s importance, whether economically or culturally. Proof is “the flight to quality” by investors worldwide into the American republic’s indebtedness, as can be seen by the all-time record low interest rates offered in U.S. Treasury bond auctions.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Consumers Are Miserable, but Still Shopping For Now
Consumers in early August say their view of the U.S. economy is the worst since 1980 — a time covering the only back-to-back recessions in modern history. But consumers shopped at a solid pace in July and into early August.
Calculated Risk | Calculated Risk Unofficial Problem Bank list at 988 Institutions
The total number of institutions on the Unofficial Problem Bank Lists remains unchanged from last week at 988. However, there were two removals and two additions. Aggregate assets declined slightly by $391 million to $411.3 billion.
Café Hayek | Lagniappe
“The fact that the U.S. content of Chinese goods is much higher than for imports as a whole is mainly due to higher retail and wholesale margins on consumer electronics and clothing than on most other goods and services.”

Reports                                                                                                                         
RCM: Wells Fargo | RCM: Wells Fargo Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary
In what was one of the most volatile weeks on Wall Street since traders and speculators first gathered under the old buttonwood tree, economic data actually showed improvements in the economy that diminish the odds of recession.

Health Care

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
AEI | Medicare End-of-Life Counseling: A Matter of Choice
Medicare spends a considerable amount of money on beneficiaries in their last year of life. This is often thought to be an issue of cost versus the intensity of care that end-of-life patients should receive.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Cato @ Liberty | In Obamacare Case, Constitution Is Victor
By striking down the individual mandate, the Eleventh Circuit has reaffirmed that the Constitution places limits on the federal government’s power. Congress can do a great many things under modern constitutional jurisprudence, but, as the court concludes, “what Congress cannot do under the Commerce Clause is mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die.”

Monetary

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | The Nixon Shock Heard 'Round the World
By severing the dollar's convertibility to gold in 1971, the president ushered in a decade of inflation and economic stagnation.
DesMoines Register | Guest columnist: Road to downgrade began 40 years ago with ditching of gold standard
Those who try to chart the course of our credit downgrade will blame Barack Obama’s profligacy or Republicans’ brinksmanship, or maybe even Standard & Poor’s callousness. But these can be no more than ancillary factors.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Minyanville | Gold Vs. the Dollar, Bernanke's Liquidity Trap, and Our $700 Trillion Derivatives Monster
Some key opinions from investor Brian Rogers of Fator Securities.

Taxes

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NY Times | Stop Coddling the Super-Rich
Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here.
Washington Times | SENSENBRENNER: European tax on American travel
Climate-change levy is cover for EU money-grubbing.
The Economist | We have a winner
It helped that the law introducing the levy required its proceeds to be recycled back to individuals and companies as cuts in income taxes.

Reports                                                                                                                         
Mercatus Center | Tax Rates and Migration
The term “millionaire tax” does not necessarily mean a tax imposed only on individuals earning more than a million dollars per year.

Budget

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Political Calculations | The National Debt Death Spiral
To be able to keep spending at President Obama's desired levels, the U.S. government must borrow even more to make up for the resulting shortfall in tax collections, which then makes the underlying problem, the risk the U.S. government might default, even worse as CDS spreads get pushed up, refueling the cycle.

Employment

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Recession Widened Education Gap in Job Market
But while Labor Department figures show that workers with four-year college degrees face the toughest job market on record, for workers with less education, it’s been far tougher.
Marginal Revolution | How are nominal wages sticky for the *unemployed*?
In terms of the financial crisis, Keynesian theory explains the initial lay-offs fairly well, but it — at least the sticky nominal wage version — has a tougher time explaining unemployment persistence at such a high level.