Monday, December 19, 2011

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
Market Watch | No holiday gifts likely for U.S. economy
Housing market, European crisis remain drags as 2012 approaches.
Bloomberg | European Ministers Seek $261B in IMF Crisis Funds
European finance ministers sought to meet a self-imposed deadline for drawing additional aid to the debt crisis and to form new budget rules as investor confidence that a comprehensive solution is achievable wanes.
CNBC | Housing Recovery Held Back by Web of Program Roadblocks
Three years after the foreclosure crisis began, the process to apply for a loan modification remains a bureaucratic nightmare that is complicating the housing recovery and could dull the impact of any Obama administration initiatives in the works.
Politico | How long can Obama delay Keystone XL pipeline call?
If Republicans get their way, President Barack Obama, right around Valentine’s Day, could have to weigh in for the second time in about three months on permitting the Keystone XL pipeline that divides his environmental and labor bases.
CNN: Money | Students face squeeze in Pell Grants
Thousands of college students may soon feel a financial pinch and another 100,000 may not be able to complete degrees after Congress pushed ahead with changes to federal student aid, education experts said.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Capitalism and the Right to Rise
In freedom lies the risk of failure. But in statism lies the certainty of stagnation.
CNN: Money | It's time for economic theory to evolve
We need an economic theory that is more relevant to a modern capitalist economy, one that embraces uncertainty and disequilibrium.
WSJ | The EPA's Fracking Scare
Breaking down the facts in that Wyoming drinking water study.
NY Times | Will China Break?
I’ve been reluctant to weigh in on the Chinese situation, in part because it’s so hard to know what’s really happening. All economic statistics are best seen as a peculiarly boring form of science fiction, but China’s numbers are more fictional than most.
AEI | The flaws of the WTO
While the addition of Russia to the ranks of the WTO is a step forward, the finalization of the Russian bid for membership underscores yet again the fundamental flaws in the globalized, multilateral approach to free trade currently institutionalized in the WTO.
Barron's | Why Has the Recovery Been So Slow?
The pace of post-recession recovery is the slowest the U.S. has seen in more than 40 years, and the housing crisis alone doesn't explain why.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Calculated Risk | NAHB Builder Confidence index increases in December
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports the housing market index (HMI) increased in December to 21 from 19 in November. Any number under 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good.
Calculated Risk | Ten Economic Questions for 2012
These are still important questions for 2012, so once again I'll try to add some thoughts on these questions - and a few predictions - before the end of year.
Source | An Institutional Check on Financial Regulators?
I think that independent auditors may be the best modern hope for reconstituting the concept of checks and balances.
Heritage Foundation | ‘You’re On Your Own Economics’ Is an Ironic Straw Man
Contrary to the President’s straw-man characterizations, the free market advocated by most conservatives isn’t a free-for-all. It requires the rule of law, the enforcement of contracts, and protection against fraud, corruption, and criminal activity. In other words, the free market relies on adherence to an agreed set of rules—the very thing Obama accuses it of subverting.
Business Insider | Why The European Debt Crisis Might Actually Be Over…
Did the ECB pull off a backdoor bailout of the various governments by making it super-cheap for banks to borrow money, with which they can then turn around and buy sovereign debt at juicy yields?
Heritage Foundation | Keynesians Should Listen to Keynes
If one accepts Keynes’s notion of “animal spirits”—the confidence that inspires businesses to increase investment—as most commentators seem to, how could one then deny Keynes’s notion that too much governmental tinkering weakens that confidence?

Reports                                                                                                                         
CBO | Troubled Asset Relief Program
In October 2008, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Division A of Public Law 110-343) established the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to enable the Department of the Treasury to promote stability in financial markets through the purchase and guarantee of "troubled assets." Section 202 of that legislation requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to submit semiannual reports on the costs of the Treasury’s purchases and guarantees of troubled assets.
RCM | How Europe Will Impact the Global Markets - Part I
The European debt crisis is the single most important driver of the global capital markets and will continue to be so well into next year. While observers have their favorite proposals how the crisis can be addressed and closure finally brought to the crisis, which is extending into its third year, most do not seem politically realistic.
RCm: Wells Fargo | RCm: Wells Fargo Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary
The busy week of economic releases continued to show an economy improving but at a moderate pace. Retail sales posted a disappointing increase of 0.2 percent in November following gains of 0.6 percent in October and 1.3 percent in September. However, spending rose across most categories typically associated with the holiday season. Electronics rose 2.1 percent in November likely reflecting sales of tablet computers and smart phones.

Health Care

News                                                                                                                             
National Journal | HHS Says States Can Decide Which Health Benefits Are 'Essential'
The Department of Health and Human Services has decided to let the states determine what package of health benefits should be considered "essential" for insurers to provide on state exchanges established under health reform.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Why Mandated Health Insurance Is Unfair
There's an easier way to solve the 'free-rider' problem.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Heritage Foundation | Ryan-Wyden: The Basic Ingredients of Structural Medicare Reform
Congressman Paul Ryan (R–WI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) have proposed a new bipartisan framework for structural Medicare reform. It continues the conversation with the American people on a solution to save the popular but financially troubled entitlement program.

Monetary

News                                                                                                                             
CNBC | ECB's Draghi Rules Out Money Printing
We are now more than four years into the financial crisis. What lessons would you draw so far? What has gone right and what has gone wrong?

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Minyanville | Central Bank Easing: The ECB's Stealth QE
How the ECB juiced the markets without anyone knowing.

Taxes

News                                                                                                                             
CNBC | Cost of Tax Cut: Another $17 a Month on Most Mortgages
Who is paying for the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut working its way through Congress? The cost is being dropped in the laps of most people who buy homes or refinance beginning next year.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
RollCall | GOP Leaders Reject Payroll Tax Deal
A year-end deal to extend a popular tax cut and unemployment benefits collapsed in the span of 48 hours this weekend as the House GOP rejected en masse an agreement that had the blessing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and most Senate Republicans.
Cato Institute | Soaking the Rich Won't Grow the Economy
We tried soaking the rich in the past, but the resulting revenue loss was more than we possibly could afford today.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Atlantic: Megan McArdle | When It Comes to Taxes on the Poor, the Supply Siders Are Right
The question is what is the policy solution here. Means-tested transfers have to be phased out at some point, so there is no easy answer.
Minyanville | What New Tax and Regulatory Changes May Mean for You
All the squabbling in Washington may look like a political game, but the decisions -- or lack thereof -- made by Congress this year may have a significant impact on your bottom line in 2012.
Heritage Foundation | Millionaire Tax Would Punish the Biggest Job Creators
According to the new Treasury report, 50 percent of the income earned by businesses that pay their taxes through the individual income tax code and employ workers would be subject to the millionaire tax that Senator Reid demands to “pay for” an extension of the payroll tax holiday.
Minyanville | Examining the Economic Implications of the Payroll Tax Cut Extension
A temporary payroll tax cut now means a corresponding pay hike later, meaning the economy is scheduled to take a growth hit in the coming months.

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | Europe's crisis could hurt U.S. jobs
The European crisis is a potential job-killer for the United States and could hit pensions and 401(k)s, Federal Reserve officials told Congress on Friday.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | ROOT: Why Obama’s ‘new math’ is a jobs killer
President touts jobs created but forgets about many more lost.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Calculated Risk | Inland Empire: Unemployment Rate now declining
I've been tracking the employment situation in California's Inland Empire since 2005. Now the employment situation is finally starting to improve a little.

Budget

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Heritage Foundation | Appropriations Tracker FY 2012 Shows Spending up, Not Down
The House budget, passed in April—a bold plan to put the government on a path to fiscal sanity—provided for $1.019 trillion in discretionary spending. It was the only real budget to pass either chamber of Congress and hence the only budget with any claim to legitimacy.
Calculated Risk | State Budget Cuts: Nearing the End?
There are more budget cuts coming in California, but the cuts may be nearing the end. The ongoing state and local budget cuts have been a significant drag on economic and employment growth for the last several years.