Thursday, September 15, 2011

General Economics

Bloomberg | Manufacturing in New York Region Contracted at a Faster Pace in September
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index dropped to minus 8.8, the weakest reading since November, from minus 7.7 in August.
WSJ | Obama Plan Won't Include Changes to Social Security
President Barack Obama's new deficit-reduction proposal will leave out changes to Social Security, and may exclude any increase in the Medicare eligibility age, people familiar with the discussions said Wednesday.
Bloomberg | EU Lowers Euro-Area Growth Forecasts on Worsening Outlook From Debt Crisis
The European Union cut its growth forecasts for the second half to reflect a worsening outlook on the sovereign-debt crisis and warned the euro-area economy may come “close to standstill at year-end.”
Market Watch | Data says it all about economy: flat, flat, flat
So it’s official: In August there was no jobs growth, no sales growth and no price growth.
WSJ | SAT Reading, Writing Scores Hit Low
The results from the college-entrance exam, taken by about 1.6 million students, also revealed that only 43% of students posted a score high enough to indicate they were ready to succeed in college, according to the College Board, the nonprofit that administers the exam.
Market Watch | Foreclosure filings jump 7% in August from July
The number of default notices mailed to homeowners who were late on their mortgages soared in August to a nine-month high — the largest month-to-month increase in four years — and that helped push the rate of overall foreclosure filings higher last month, according to data released by RealtyTrac Inc.
CNN: Money | When will home prices spring back?
In a few of the hardest-hit areas, such as Detroit, homes have become so cheap that it no longer makes sense to rent.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | My Plan to Revive Economic Growth
It is inherently American to work, to risk and to dream. Our government's policies should encourage that.
Washington Times | EDITORIAL: Obama’s poverty problem
Reckless fiscal policies swell the ranks of the poor.
WSJ | Obama's Two Economies
For Barack Obama, the private economy is an intellectual abstraction.
Washington Post | How China can help Europe get out of debt
The time has come for China to adopt a broader concept of its interests and become a “responsible stakeholder” in the global system.
RCM | Rick Perry: Right Idea, Wrong Social Security Message
The Texas governor questions the constitutionality of Social Security. He's right to do so considering our founding document nowhere enumerated to the federal government power over how we as individuals plan for our retirement. | Best Way To Aid Economy Now? Just Do Nothing
Some people are hoping that President Obama's plan will get the economy out of the doldrums and start providing jobs for the unemployed. Others are hoping that the Republicans' plan will do the trick.
AEI | Deficit Panel Could Change Economic World
The bottom line for the United States: A European banking crisis means a truly serious blow to our already weak economy.

Heritage Foundation | Tale of the Red Tape #19: A More Perfect Union Advantage
Let’s take a closer look at how the Obama Administration demonstrates “efficiency” and “economy” in actual practice. Fair warning: It ain’t pretty.
EconLog | Universal Social Programs vs. Cost-Benefit Analysis
If cost-effective means-tested programs are politically unsustainable, isn't it possible that the least bad solution is no programs at all?
Heritage Foundation | Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?
Although Social Security does bear a resemblance to a Ponzi scheme in that it has promised much more in benefits to younger Americans than it can possibly pay, these shortcomings can be fairly easily fixed if political leaders are willing to face up to the challenge. Ponzi schemes cannot be fixed, since they are criminal enterprises designed to fleece participants.

RCM: Wells Fargo | Retail Sales Stall in August
Not only were retail sales unchanged in August, the 0.5 percent gain initially reported for July was revised to a smaller gain of only 0.3 percent. Core sales slowed as well. Consumer spending growth is slowing further.

Health Care

National Journal | Medicaid Gets Fraud-Fighting Program
The Obama administration unveiled a program on Wednesday that aims to collect improper Medicaid payments, timing the announcement to coincide with a government-wide push to reduce the fraudulent collection of federal dollars.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Mediscare Flops
In this volatile political climate, traditional rules may not apply.
RCM | Slow Employment Growth? Look to Obamacare
The Affordable Care Act would put many franchise businesses at a disadvantage relative to local, non-franchise competitors by driving up their operating costs. The multi-unit franchisees will have a particularly difficult time operating in this uneven business environment.


WSJ | Federal Reserve Considers Whether to Twist Again
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has demonstrated a straightforward approach to his job: If the Fed forecasts unemployment will be far above normal and inflation is heading below the Fed's target, then the central bank should do something—even if no tool seems potent enough to fix the economy.
Market Watch | U.S. consumer prices jump 0.4% in August
Americans paid more money for a broad range of goods and services last month, including gas, food, clothing and shelter, and the higher costs ate into their inflation-adjusted income.


Politico | Boehner to urge reform of tax code
Speaker John Boehner plans Thursday to urge the supercommittee charged with cutting the nation’s deficit to overhaul the tax code, his most direct remarks about the path the panel should undertake.
Politico | Obama jobs plan: Raise taxes on health care
Nearly imperceptible to all but the most trained tax policy eyes, President Barack Obama’s blueprint to boost employment hinges partly on a provision that makes health plans taxable for individuals who make more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Cato Institute | Cut Defense before Raising Taxes
A leaked memo from supercommittee documents includes proposals for a 5.4 percent surtax on families earning $1 million or more, an increase in the estate tax, and the usual hodgepodge of taxes on oil companies, hedge-fund managers, corporate-jet owners, and others who have drawn the Democrats' ire.

CRS | The Impact of Refundable Tax Credits on Poverty Rates
Specifically, on its own the EITC lifts 22% of its eligible recipients out of poverty. The other tax credits have smaller effects on reducing poverty rates among eligible recipients. The child tax credit reduces poverty among eligible recipients by 13.9%, whereas the MWP credit reduces poverty among MWP recipients by 5.4%. However, taken as a whole, these credits reduce poverty among those who are eligible for all three by nearly 47%.


WSJ | OECD Calls for Action on Unemployment
In its annual employment outlook, the Paris-based think tank said that in July, 44.5 million workers were without jobs across its 34 developed-country members, 13.4 million more than immediately before the onset of the financial crisis.
Market Watch | U.S. jobless claims jump to highest since June
The number of applications for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level in nearly two months, government data showed Thursday, providing more evidence of the difficulty jobless Americans face in finding work.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | KLECKNER: Obama deliberately kills jobs
What else can you say about a president who leaves 60,000 Americans jobless?
Politico | NLRB costing South Carolina jobs
The federal government’s attempt to shutter a new Boeing manufacturing plant in South Carolina will have a profoundly negative impact on thousands of hardworking Americans — and the state’s entire economy. Right now, South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 10.9 percent.
Washington Times | PYLE: Obama’s employment policy alter egos
President pushes doomed green jobs while blocking work in oil industry.

Political Calculations | Gas Prices, the Unemployment Rate and Desperation
Going by the elevated motor gasoline prices that have come to characterize Barack Obama's years as U.S. President, it appears that the U.S. unemployment rate will skyrocket up to 11% early in 2013 if the correlation between gasoline prices and the unemployment rate two years later continues to hold.
WSJ | Billions in Unemployment Benefits Paid in Error
Nearly $19 billion in state unemployment benefits were paid in error during the three years that ended in June, new Labor Department data show.


WSJ | American Officials Press Europe to Solve Debt Woes
Policy makers and finance executives sought to calm investors rattled by Europe's debt woes, while officials around the world pressed for swift action to keep the turmoil from spreading.
Fiscal Times | Super Panel May Go for a Grand Fiscal Bargain
For example, if it seeks a “grand bargain,” the Super Committee could specify to House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over tax and entitlement policy the deficit reduction targets to be achieved and the nature of the structural program changes to be made, the task force said.
CNN Money | White House: We're fighting wasteful spending
The main effort that could deliver big dollar savings is going on at Health and Human Services, which plans to use a special audit program to root out waste and fraud in Medicaid. Agency auditors say they expect to recover $2.1 billion over five years.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | A Blue-State Bailout in Disguise
Our new study shows that under the Obama jobs bill, debt-ridden states will get another big handout.
AEI | Bailouts or Bankruptcy?
In early 2011, the states' financial travails were the stuff of headline news. Deficits for the current budget cycle were estimated at $175 billion

NRO: The Corner | What Should the Supercommittee’s Priority Be?
No matter how one looks at it, it’s hard to imagine how such savings can be achieved without touching health-care benefits — in particular without reining in the new health-care law.