Thursday, August 25, 2011

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
Market Watch | Get ready for a double-dip recession
Economists and strategists are increasingly predicting another recession. But they’re also getting prepared, with strategies that include a balanced approach and European and Asian ETF plays.
CNN: Money | Foreclosure settlement: Spat among the states
A deal to help victims of improper foreclosures has been slow going, in large part because of infighting among state attorneys general over giving banks a free pass from future lawsuits.
Fox News | Financial turmoil intensifies home buyers' anxiety
Part of the problem is that many people can't buy even if they want to. More than 23 percent of homeowners owe more on their homes than they're worth. An additional 25 percent have less than 20 percent equity in their homes, according to Capital Economics.
Washington Times | After earthquake, homeowners find insurance policies lack coverage
The 5.8 magnitude quake - the largest in this region in more than a century - served as a rattling awakening for many homeowners in the Washington area, who assumed they were covered.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Fox Business | Congress: Economic Illiterates
Politicians mess with the economy. They create tens of thousands of pages of burdensome regulations every year. They pass ""stimulus"" bills that they promise will reduce unemployment. They pass a health care law that's more than a thousand pages, and give "waivers" to politically connected unions and corporations.
WSJ | Business Regulation vs. Growth: The View from Middle America
It has become clear that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been a real deterrent to companies that would like to go public.
RCM | Getting Real On Immigration
Congress shows no signs of passing legislation to fix our convoluted immigration laws. Indeed, despite much discussion on Capitol Hill and much public debate, Congress has passed no broad revision of immigration law since the 1990s.
WSJ | Fairness Doctrine, R.I.P.
A good deed from the FCC.
Cato Institute | Squaring the U.S., China, Taiwan Triangle
Washington should help Taipei defend itself. Peace is in the interest of Taiwan, China and the U.S. Washington should maintain a good relationship with China. And continuing arms sales to Taipei may be the best means to preserve stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Atlantic: Megan McArdle | Welfare Reform: The Downside
Since the social service system was manifestly not good at distinguishing those who were capable of working, and those who weren't, before reform changed the incentives, we are stuck with a choice between false positives and false negatives.
Heritage Foundation | Jones Act Oil Waiver Symptom of Regulatory Overload
The Obama Administration’s decision to waive provisions of the Jones Act last month when releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is typical of this Administration’s disregard for the principle of equal protection under the law when it becomes too inconvenient.
Café Hayek | Not a Novel Question, but One Worth Asking Again and Again
If human choices and actions in private settings are so heavily influenced by animal spirits that the economy is often significantly damaged by their musings and muckings around, aren’t human choices and actions in political settings at least equally influenced by these same animal spirits – and, hence, isn’t political activity at least equally distorted by these unpredictable poltergeists?

Reports                                                                                                                         
RCM: Wells Fargo | Are We Headed for Another Global Recession?
Financial markets have encountered significant volatility recently due to a cocktail of negative news that includes Standard and Poor’s downgrade of U.S. government debt, the continuing saga of the European sovereign debt crisis and fears of a double-dip recession in the United States.
CBO | Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from April 2011 Through June 2011
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) contains provisions that are intended to boost economic activity and employment in the United States. Section 1512(e) of the law requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to comment on reports filed by recipients of ARRA funding that detail the number of jobs funded through their activities.

Health Care

News                                                                                                                             
Politico | Bill Frist: Health care law here to stay
President Barack Obama’s health care law isn’t going anywhere even if the individual mandate is struck down by the courts, says heart surgeon and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who sees the law’s provisions as mostly good.
National Journal | Report: Three-Fourths of Unemployed Can't Afford Health Care
The report released on Wednesday also found that 60 percent of working Americans rely on employer-provided health insurance. As 15 million working-age adults lost their jobs – and, possibly, employer health insurance – between 2008 and 2010, 9 million of those people stayed uninsured.
National Journal | New Report Finds Unplanned Pregnancy Rates Are on the Rise
Efforts to slow the rate of accidental pregnancies have stalled in the United States, but new government requirements that insurers pay for all birth control may help, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Fox News | Think the Government Handled the Financial Crisis Badly? Just Wait, Because Health Care Is Next
The names are different but the ideology is the same -- government can run things better than the private sector. The big difference is that the outcome of government run health care will be more than a blow to the pocketbook. This is life and death.

Taxes

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
CNN Money | The critical facts that no one mentioned in the debt debate
Hiking taxes on the rich has a long history of backfiring. Let's learn from history.
RCM | The Payroll Tax Cut Is Class Warfare
To be sure, we are in favor of any tax cut we can get, and there's certainly no harm in letting workers keep a little more of their hard-earned money. But no one should have any illusions that this debate is about anything other than winning votes next November.
Forbes | Buffett And Obama Use The Tax Code For Free Guilt Therapy
That neither of them is handing over his wealth to Treasury indicates that neither is interested in paying more to the government per se; each is enthralled by the idea of doing so if they can be comforted by the knowledge that there are crowds lined up behind them (forced) to do the same.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Kids Prefer Cheese | Corporate [ TAXES ] are [ PAID BY ] People
Corporations can move around; stockholders won't move around, at least not as much.
Heritage Foundation | Illinois Loses Most Jobs in Nation Following Massive Tax Increase
In Illinois, employment numbers increased steadily until January 2011, at which point they took a sharp dip downward—the same time that state’s governor announced plans to increase the personal income tax rate by 67 percent and the corporate rates by 46 percent. And things keep getting worse.

Monetary

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Bernanke Is Unlikely to Promise New Action by the Fed
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is unlikely to use his speech Friday at the Federal Reserve's annual Jackson Hole, Wyo., conclave to unveil new efforts to bolster the U.S. economy—despite financial markets' lingering hopes that he will.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Post | Inflation is not the answer
It’s a sign of desperation that the latest cure being suggested for the ailing economy is higher inflation. In the 1970s and early 1980s, inflation was a national curse. Now, it’s being advanced as an antidote to high unemployment and meager economic growth.
AEI | The Dollar
The US economy may be in bad shape, but not as bad as Japan or Europe.
Financial Times | Bernanke must not push QE3 at Jackson Hole
Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, is in a really tough spot. With other policymakers essentially missing in action, many hope that he will provide a remedy for America’s increasingly deep-rooted economic problems at Jackson Hole on Friday.
Bloomberg | As Fed Meets, Two Lessons from 30 Years at Jackson Hole: Echoes
I attended the first monetary-policy symposium in August 1982, and I plan to be there for the 30th meeting this week. I expect that the Tetons will still be there, but virtually everything else will be different. And there are lessons in those differences.
Bloomberg | Dollar Decline Benefits U.S. Economy as Presaged by Feldstein
“A lower dollar means more exports, and it also means a shift from consuming imported products to consuming goods and services that we produce in the United States,” said Harvard University economics professor Martin Feldstein in a telephone interview.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ: Real Time Economics | CBO: Dollar’s Value to Decline Moderately Over the Next Decade
The Congressional Budget Office said it anticipates that the trade-weighted exchange value of the U.S. dollar will decline “at a moderate pace” over the next 10 years.
Reason Foundation | The Fed's QE Makes Life Difficult
The market and pundits are now begging for another round of quantitative easing, and most likely, Bernanke will once again comply - after all, the only way quantitative easing can support markets is through continuous pumping of money into the system. Politicians will praise his genius, all while 80 percent of their constituents suffer under the Bernanke Fed's actions.

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
MarketWatch | Jobless claims in U.S. rise to 417,000
The number of Americans seeking new jobless benefits rose for the second week in a row as thousands of phone workers at Verizon Communications filed claims, government data showed.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ: Real Time Economics | With Jobs Elusive, Young Workers Quit Looking
Amid high unemployment, jobs were particularly elusive for the 16 to 24-year-old set between April and July. Some 48.8% of young people held jobs in July, the lowest rate for that month based on data going back to 1948, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

Budget

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Forecast Clouds Debt-Cut Outlook
High CBO Jobless Forecast Complicates Task for Congressional Debt Committee.
National Journal | Revised CBO Report Could Need More Revisions
Though the new CBO data released on Wednesday paints a more optimistic picture than previous agency reports, this version is predicated on some highly fickle assumptions: from the prowess of the super committee to find consensus this fall, to increased revenue through the expiration of tax cuts, to decreased spending on programs such as federal unemployment benefits.
WSJ | Irene on Path to Test Coffers of State-Run Insurers
Of the 14 U.S. states in Irene's projected path as of late Wednesday, at least 10 of them run insurance pools for homes in vulnerable areas. Those insurers, which have ballooned in size in recent years, now have about 677,000 policyholders and overall exposure of $196.2 billion, according to the states.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Politico | Triggers to cut deficit don't work
Yet Gramm-Rudman-Hollings’ flaws were evident from the start. By exempting tax increases and entitlement spending, the bill ignored two major components of the deficit. With these sacred cows off the table, sequestration was limited to relatively minor parts of the budget.
WSJ | What Austerity?
Federal spending will hit a new record this year.
Daily Caller | Job #1 for the budget super-committee: cut the new health care entitlement’s cost
Health care cost growth is a primary driver of the federal government’s financial problems.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Cato@Liberty | The Dumbest Budget ‘Plan’ Yet
I don’t take issue with George’s guesstimate that 25 percent of all government spending is waste. But the notion that federal spending can be cut by 25 percent every year by implementing particular quality control procedures in government is crackpot.
Cato@Liberty | New CBO Numbers Confirm – Once Again – that Modest Spending Restraint Can Balance the Budget
This certainly doesn’t reflect well on the Obama White House, which claimed that flushing $800 billion down the Washington rathole would prevent the joblessness rate from ever climbing above 8 percent.

Reports                                                                                                                         
NBER | Over-optimism in Forecasts by Official Budget Agencies and Its Implications
The paper studies forecasts of real growth rates and budget balances made by official government agencies among 33 countries.