Wednesday, October 19, 2011

General Economics

WSJ | Hong Kong Chief Sees 'High Likelihood' of Global Recession
"I'm afraid all the ingredients for another slowdown in the global economy are coming," Mr. Tsang said in an interview. "The lack of investor confidence and the slowdown of consumption both in Europe and America are not good signs."
Market Watch | Home-builder confidence gauge climbs in October
Home-builder confidence in October rose by the largest amount since the home-buyer tax credit program ended, though the gauge remains mired at historically weak levels, according to an index released Tuesday.
WSJ | Steel Makers Struggle
In yet another sign of the weakness in the world economy, steelmakers have begun to slow production amid expectations of lower prices and a poor fourth quarter.
Politico | Retail sales help steer economy in right direction
The September retail numbers have alleviated concerns of a worst-case meltdown, but the forecast is still dreary when you dig deeper into the numbers.
Bloomberg | Housing Starts in U.S. Rise 15%, Beat Forecast
Builders began work on more U.S. homes than forecast in September on rising demand for apartments and condominiums as more Americans become renters.
WSJ | Traders Warn of Market Cracks
Amid the wild swings of the past few weeks, cracks are appearing deep in the workings of the stock market that some professional investors say are making the market treacherous to trade.
CNN: Money | Social Security payments to see first increase since 2009
Social Security recipients should get a cost of living adjustment of about 3.5% to 3.7% starting in January. The exact amount should be released Wednesday, when the government unveils the inflation index upon which the COLA is based.
WSJ | New Mortgage Plan Floated
Underwater Borrowers Current on Payments Would Get Help.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | LEBLANC: Obama’s obligation to free up Gulf oil
More oil-drilling permits would bolster economy and decrease deficit.
Forbes | The Fundamental Fallacies Of Macroeconomics
Do you sometimes wonder why economists are accorded such respect and influence given the fact that they claim knowledge over the unknowable, promote theories that are untestable, and make forecasts for which they are never held accountable?
Politico | Energy regulations hurt job creation
More than 43 major regulations were proposed last year, and an additional 219 are in the pipeline — each estimated to cost more than $100 million.
WSJ | Your Cash for Their Clunkers
Another White House energy favorite hits financial trouble.
Bloomberg | Global Recession Likely If Euro Crisis Stays, Nobel Winner Mortensen Says
“If the Europeans can’t solve the problem within a year, we are likely to have another worldwide recession,” Mortensen said at a press briefing in Taipei today. “So it’s very important for all of us to resolve that problem in the short term.”
WSJ | Too Big to Fail' Is Simply Too Big
There is no evidence huge banks add sufficient value to offset the systemic risk they pose.
RCM | Busting the 1% vs. 99% Inequality Myth
President Obama's class-envy strategy is built on a false premise - that the rich get richer at the expense of the poor.

Café Hayek | More on ideology
When political events occur, our first impulse is to try to fit it in a box. We hear that something has happened, and we efficiently make up our mind about what it means and whether or not we agree.
Econlog | For the Myth of the Macroeconomy File
The standard view in economics is that wants are unlimited, so that in the long run as old jobs are destroyed new jobs are created. But will reality conform to this theory?
Heritage Foundation | Tales of the Red Tape #22: A Real Waste of Regulatory Energy
If you’re concerned that the Solyndra scandal is hampering other energy initiatives, worry not. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is moving right along with its review of urinal efficiency.
Marginal Revolution | Will China soon have a trade deficit?
“China’s export-reliant enterprises are facing their toughest time in years. The possibility of a full-year trade deficit cannot be ruled out next year,” Wei, secretary-general of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a government think tank, told China Daily.
Calculated Risk | Calculated Risk MBA: Mortgage Purchase Application Index at Lowest Level Since 1996
The Refinance Index decreased 16.6 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 8.8 percent from one week earlier and is at the lowest level in the survey since December 1996.

Health Care

National Journal | U.S. Health Care System Losing Ground, Group Reports
The U.S. health care system still scores a not-quite-good-enough, failing to save lives that could easily have been saved and racking up enormous bills with little to show for it, according to a report released on Tuesday.
NY Times | U.S. Moves to Cut Back Regulations on Hospitals
The Obama administration moved Tuesday to roll back numerous rules that apply to hospitals and other health care providers after concluding that the standards were obsolete or overly burdensome to the industry.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Fox Business | White House Still Wants Long Term Care Insurance Program
The White House wanted a new long term care insurance program in health reform, to cover individuals if they get disabled or the elderly. But the Administration wanted to sell it at such dirt-cheap premiums that it would have made just another insolvent entitlement program that taxpayers would be on the hook for.
Cato Institute | Despite Flaws, U.S. Health Care the Best
We aren't perfect, but if you're sick, the United States is still the place you want to be.

NRO: The Corner | What Do the Stimulus and Obamacare Have in Common?
The stimulus bill of February 2009 and the health-care bill of March 2010 have something in common: Their adoption rested on seriously faulty budget scores and economic predictions, which their advocates (often the same people in both cases) were willing to believe would materialize.

Monetary Policy

Bloomberg | Bernanke Says Federal Reserve Seeks to Increase Clarity About Policy Goals
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank is likely to rely more on public communications as a policy tool as it seeks to provide clarity about the likely future path of interest rates.
Bloomberg | Consumer Prices in U.S. Rise at Slower Pace
The cost of living in the U.S. rose in September at the slowest pace in three months, signaling inflation may moderate as Federal Reserve officials have predicted.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Market Watch | Fed might use rate hikes to pop bubbles: Bernanke
The comment by Bernanke, restrained as it was, goes against past proclamations. Before the 2008 financial crisis, Fed officials — notably Alan Greenspan, the former chairman — argued that monetary policy was too blunt a tool to combat possible bubbles.

Daily Capitalist | Inflation AND Recession?
The PPI for September made a dramatic 0.8% MoM increase. On an annual basis prices rose 7.0%. If you strip out food and energy, the so-called Core price inflation, the Index rose 0.2% MoM and 2.5% YoY.


National Journal | Geithner: Short-Term Reforms Key to Growth
The Treasury secretary said the current tax system has too many special preferences and too much year-to-year uncertainty.
NY Times | Take Advantage of Tax Breaks Now, Experts Say
In Washington’s war of words over economic and tax policy, Republicans and Democrats are aiming increasingly hostile barbs at each other that are leaving investors and business owners uncertain, even confused, about what tax and business strategies to pursue, according to financial advisers.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | LAURSON & PIELER: Food taxes more about milking consumers than helping them
Government uses fat taxes to fill coffers, not save lives.

Heritage Foundation | Tax Cuts and Supply-Side Effects
Lawmakers have recently paid lip service to cutting the corporate tax rate to help boost economic growth. Doing so would be good policy, but it’s important to know why.

CBO | Options for Changing the Tax Treatment of Charitable Giving
Under current law, taxpayers who itemize deductions may deduct the amount they donate to charities from their adjusted gross income (AGI) when determining how much they owe in federal income taxes.


Market Watch | Judging impact of ‘piece-by-piece’ jobs plan
As President Barack Obama this week began a campaign to get a jobs bill passed in “bite-sized pieces,” economists have likewise taken a knife to their estimates of the benefits from slimmed-down legislation.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | The Immigration Solution for Job Growth
Immigrants and their children founded almost half of Fortune 500 firms like Google and Intel.
AEI | The US Shouldn't Wait to Fix Immigration for Skilled Workers quarter of American Nobel Prize winners since 1901 (the first year the prizes were awarded) have been immigrants. As recently as 2009, five of the eight American winners were immigrants.

Political Calculations | Average Unemployment Insurance Tax Rates by State, 2005-2011
...a look at the average tax rates paid by employers to support the unemployment insurance benefits mandated by the states in which they operate!


WSJ | Deadline Sets Stage for Crucial Euro Week
Top European officials this weekend vowed to unveil a sweeping euro-zone rescue plan by Oct. 23—setting the stage for one of the most critical weeks of the bloc's nearly two-year-old debt crisis.
NY Times | Deficit Panel May Need Push, Lawmakers Say
The 12-member committee is just over halfway through the 76-day interval from its first meeting to the date its final report is due on Nov. 23, but has not gained much traction.
Politico | Spending bill hits wall with moderates
President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders believed that bringing forward a popular spending package for hiring teachers and firefighters would prove to be a far easier sell than the White House’s more ambitious $447 billion American Jobs Act.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Amtrak's Banner Year
Here's what Amtrak didn't trumpet: It lost a near-record amount of money in fiscal 2011, with some $560 million from the feds required to cover its operating deficit.