Tuesday, August 23, 2011

General Economics

CNBC | Consumer Confidence Hits New Low, May Be Weaker
U.S. consumer confidence has fallen further after weeks of intensified economic concerns and broad stock market declines, and Conference Board data due later this month could be even weaker than current projections suggest, Consumer Edge Research said on Monday.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area Services, Manufacturing Grow at Slowest Pace in Almost Two Years
European services and manufacturing growth held steady in August at the slowest pace in almost two years, adding to signs the euro-region recovery is losing momentum as the sovereign debt crisis persists.
Fox News | AP survey: No recession but weakness will endure
Worries that another recession is nearing and that the European crisis will spread have led to a roughly 15 percent drop in stock prices in the past month. Economists say the Great Recession ended in June 2009.
WSJ | China Manufacturing Activity Declines
While the number was above the July reading and higher than some analysts had expected, it was still below the key level of 50, which separates growth in the industry from contraction.
Politico | Report: Disability fund losing cash
The Social Security disability fund is fast running out of money and may not be able to make payments starting in 2017, thanks in part to the bad economy driving claims up over the past decade, The Associated Press reported.
WSJ | White House to Scale Back Regulations on Businesses
The Obama administration will release final plans Tuesday for ending or cutting back hundreds of regulations, an effort to reduce the burden on business and counter criticism that the White House is tone-deaf to business concerns.
Washington Times | Welfare reform law faces revision at 15
Safety net again under scrutiny on Hill.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | BARRASSO: Regulatory overreach smothering economy
Last year, President Obama promised Americans a recovery summer. This year, he’s given us a regulatory summer. He’s thrown a giant wet blanket on economic recovery and has given Americans a summer of more burdens, more costs and more rules.
Politico | White House: Red-tape cutting to save billions
Months of work aimed at slashing red tape imposed by agencies across the federal government are culminating Tuesday as the Obama administration releases its final regulatory reform plans that officials say will save businesses $10 billion over five years.
Washington Times | RAHN: Empower the regulated
It is widely recognized that excessive regulation is unnecessarily killing jobs. The question has been what to do about it.
Politico | Setting welfare on the right path
Aug. 22 is a special day. Fifteen years ago today, after much work by Republicans and Democrats alike, President Bill Clinton signed historic welfare reforms into law.
WSJ | Washington Is Eliminating Red Tape
New reforms will save Americans billions without sacrificing public health or safety.
Politico | Blame regulations for joblessness
Unemployment now stands at a staggering 9.1 percent. For the past 30 months, unemployment has been at 8 percent or higher. Recent indicators point to jobless numbers even higher than 9.1 percent in coming months.
RCM | Economic Desperation Is On the Rise
This year, 3.3 million people are expected to apply to Social Security for disability benefits. That's 700,000 more than in 2008, and a million more than a decade ago. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office expects the program to run out of money in six short years.

Heritage Foundation | Social Security’s Disability Program Faces an Empty Trust Fund
SSDI benefits are somewhat more generous than retirement benefits and turn into retirement benefits once the recipient reaches full retirement age. In addition, SSDI benefits allow the recipient to qualify for Medicare after two years, regardless of what age the individual has reached at that time.
Source | What works and what doesn’t
Our biggest challenge as a nation is our political system. We have overpromised and a democracy that ignores its Constitution isn’t very adept at taking away goodies from the masses. I am very worried about how that is going to turn out. We need to share the pain very widely and that too is not the strong suit of democracy.
Cato Institute | Top 3 Common Myths of Capitalism
Senior fellow Jeffrey Miron discusses some common myths about capitalism in this video by the Institute for Humane tudies’ Learn Liberty project.
Heritage Foundation | Welfare Reform Turns 15
Even as the living standards of the poor continue to improve such that families in “poverty” live in comfortable housing and possess many of the amenities of middle-class families—microwaves, DVD players, video game systems, and cell phones—the federal government continues to pour more money into welfare.
Reason | Fed Help for Underwater Homeowners Won't Help Economy
Right now, the housing market is struggling with a housing finance conundrum, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that solving this part of the problem will bring the housing sector back.
Calculated Risk | Calculated Risk Mortgage Delinquencies by Loan Type
Both the number of prime and subprime loans have declined over the last four years; the number of subprime loans is down by about one-third. Meanwhile the number of FHA loans has increased sharply.

Health Care

National Journal | Drop Health Care Law to Cut Deficit, Issa Argues
The 2010 health care law will encourage Americans to look for government subsidies for health insurance and repealing it could help fight the budget deficit.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NYT | Cut Medicare, Help Patients
Medicare is going to be cut. That is inevitable. There is no way to solve the nation’s long-term debt problem without reducing the growth rate of federal health care spending. The only question is whether the cuts will be smart ones.

Econlog | Price Controls Cause Doctor Shortage in Canada
So I used the Health Care Options Directory on the same government website.This allows you to plug in your postal code and find all family doctors listed within a certain radius. It is a particularly soul-destroying experience.
Econlog | Health Insurance, Fairness Norms, and Unemployment
Nominal wages rarely fall - even when there's high unemployment. Part of the reason is regulation, of course. But even under laissez-faire, employers have to cope with human psychology. Almost all workers think that nominal wages cuts are unfair.

CRS | Characteristics of Children With and Without Health Insurance, 2009
Uninsured children are, on average, less likely than insured children to have the recommended number of well-baby and well-child medical visits and less likely to receive standard immunizations. Children without health insurance also rely more on hospital emergency rooms for basic care and therefore receive such care in the least cost-efficient manner.


Market Watch | Bernanke’s successors may want to think twice about job
After watching how Texas Governor Rick Perry talked about Bernanke on the campaign trail last week, many of future candidates to succeed the Fed chairman may think twice, said Professor Mark Gertler, a colleague of Bernanke’s who has co-written academic papers with him.
CNBC | Fed's Bullard Says FOMC to Act If Economy Sags
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said he would support action if that occurred. "If the economy weakens substantially, and especially if the inflation picture starts to deteriorate so that deflation becomes a risk again, then I think the committee would definitely take action," Bullard told the Nikkei.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Financial Times | A bigger, bolder fund can stop the next crash
Unusual problems require unconventional solutions. The world’s financial system is threatened by a new crisis that could be even worse than that of 2008. To counter this, the International Monetary Fund should establish a new “debt facility” to help indebted countries work out their finances.
CNN: Money | Let's be realistic about what the Fed can do for the economy
Keeping interest rates near zero doesn't help much if people are too spooked to spend. A more radical solution may be in order.


Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Cato Institute | Tax Hikes Will Only Make Us All Poorer
The 2010 Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans had assets totaling $1.37 trillion. Even if all of this wealth were expropriated, it wouldn't be enough to cover Obama's deficits for a single year…
Forbes | Taxpayers Should Be Leery Of Warren Buffett's Faux Noblesse Oblige
No matter how you look at it, when Buffett – or anyone else pays more taxes to the government – there is an offsetting reduction in the amount of money and employment in the private sector. Although the rich may not notice the difference, the middle-class and poor pay the price.


CNN Money | Verizon strike to hit monthly jobs reading
About 45,000 strikers at Verizon Communications will return to work this week, but not before taking a bite out of upcoming August jobs report.
CNN Money | UBS to cut 3,500 jobs
Swiss bank UBS said Tuesday that it is reducing its staff by 3,500 jobs, including some reductions in the United States, through a mixture of layoffs and "natural attrition."

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NY Times | How Democrats Hurt Jobs
...a fair-minded person would have to acknowledge that the N.L.R.B.’s action is exactly the kind of overreach that should embarrass Democrats who claim to care about job creation.

Heritage Foundation | Are Green Jobs ‘Gone with the Wind’?
If Congress’ “super-committee” wants to cut wasteful spending, the green jobs agenda is a great place to start.


Fox News | Balanced budget amendment to get votes in Congress
As a "supercommittee" tries to find $1.5 trillion in new deficit cuts this fall, Republicans will be pressing a far more ambitious goal: passing an amendment to the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Reason Foundation | The Persistence of Fiscal Fantasy
An August Economist/YouGov poll found that 56 percent of Americans said we can bring spending under control without reductions in Social Security and Medicare. Only 24 percent admit what every fiscal expert knows.

Heritage Foundation | A Fifth Keynesian ‘Stimulus’?
Still others are calling for additional hundreds of billions in stimulus spending as part of any deficit reduction deal coming out of the ‘supercommittee.’ If either of these ideas takes hold, it would be the fifth major Keynesian experiment since 2000.