Thursday, December 22, 2011

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Decline in U.S. Home Values to Be Smallest in Four Years, Zillow Reports
The total value of the country’s housing probably fell by more than $681 billion, about 35 percent less than the $1.1 trillion lost in 2010.
Market Watch | A year of aggressive antitrust oversight
The Obama administration’s defeat of AT&T Corp.’s $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA caps what has been the administration’s most determined year yet in beating back Corporate America’s blockbuster deal-making.
Bloomberg | Oil Rises for Fourth Day as U.S. Supplies Drop Most in a Decade
Futures rose as much as 0.7 percent after gaining 1.5 percent yesterday as Energy Department data showed stockpiles fell 10.6 million barrels, the largest decrease since February 2001.
Market Watch | Third-quarter GDP growth cut to 1.8% from 2.0%
U.S. economic growth in the third quarter was a little bit weaker than previously forecast, mainly because consumers spent less money on health care, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
Bloomberg | Leading U.S. Indicators Rise More Than Forecast in Sign of Further Growth
The index of U.S. leading indicators climbed more than forecast in November, a sign that the world’s largest economy will keep growing in early 2012.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
LA Times | Through charitable giving, Americans spread the wealth
Despite the tough economy, or perhaps because of it, Americans are giving more to charity and volunteering more than ever — and more than the rest of the world.
WSJ | What Fannie and Freddie Knew
The SEC shows how the toxic twins turbocharged the housing bubble.
CNBC | Signs Point to Economy’s Rise, but Experts See a False Dawn
Many forecasters say the recent uptick probably does not represent the long-awaited start to a strong, sustainable recovery.
AEI | A resolution for the New Year: Restart the trade agenda
In 2011, the United States’s sleepy free trade agenda finally got a shot of caffeine, but if the U.S. wants to seriously bolster its economy in 2012, policymakers ought to anchor their boats to the quay of an aggressive free trade agenda.
WSJ | How Immigrant Entrepreneurs Turbocharge U.S. Trade
While skilled immigrants make America smarter, richer and more influential, the process for obtaining a work visa is dismayingly slow, capricious and humiliating.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Think Markets | Menace to Savings and Small Businesses
Regulators are still in the process of determining how to implement the Volcker rule but the potential impact is already discernible. Likely victims include millions of Americans who save for their retirement and smaller companies that need to borrow money.
Café Hayek | Klein on the invisible hand
Instead of trying to put a dollar value on the gains and losses and adding them up for some net measure of efficiency, it’s more honest to say here are the winners, here are the losers, here is what happens to them and here are the larger effects on liberty or security or innovation or other things we might also value.
Mercatus Center: Neighborhood Effects | NYC Taxi Reform Doesn’t Go Far Enough
The new rule will allow passengers to hail some livery cars in outer boroughs and add 2,000 additional medallions for yellow cabs with wheelchair access.
Heritage Foundation | Census Bureau Says Half of Americans Are Poor? Think Again
Of course, that all depends how you define “poverty” or “near poverty.” And by the definition of this new measure, quietly ushered in by the Obama Administration, “low-income” in some areas of the country can now mean up to nearly $90,000 for a family of four.
Ecolong | Today on the Eurozone Crisis
At this point, it looks to me as though the European banks are about as private as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. And in Europe, the non-bank financial sector is much smaller than in the U.S.
Calculated Risk | Final December Consumer Sentiment at 69.9
The final December Reuters / University of Michigan consumer sentiment index increased to 69.9, up from the preliminary reading of 67.7, and up from the November reading of 64.1.

Reports                                                                                                                         
NBER | Shaped by Booms and Busts: How the Economy Impacts CEO Careers and Management Style
This paper examines how early career experiences affect the career path and promotion of managers as well as the managerial style that they develop when becoming CEOs. We identify the impact of an exogenous shock to managers’ careers, in particular the business cycle at the career starting date.

Health Care

News                                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | Medicare doctors fed up with Washington
The American Academy of Family Physicians, which represents 100,300 family doctors, issued a statement Tuesday expressing "outrage that Congress failed to prevent the 27.4% Medicare physician pay cut mandated by current law."

Monetary

News                                                                                                                             
NY Times | European Bank in Strong Move to Loosen Credit
European central bankers on Wednesday pumped nearly $640 billion into the Continent’s banking system. The move raised hopes that the money could alleviate the region’s credit squeeze.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ: Real Time Economics | IMF Chief Economist’s Four Lessons From 2011
We have known for a long time about self-fulfilling bank runs; this is why deposit insurance was created. Self-fulfilling attacks against pegged exchange rates are the stuff of textbooks. And we learned early on in the crisis that wholesale funding could have the same effects, and that runs could affect banks and non-banks alike. This is what led central banks to provide liquidity to a much larger set of financial institutions.

Taxes

News                                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Payroll Executives Complain About Lawmakers' Penchant for Brief Fixes
The battle over extending a payroll-tax holiday is creating headaches for businesses, and highlights Washington's growing penchant for short-term fixes in tax policy.
Fox News | Understanding Congress' payroll tax cut fight
If President Barack Obama, the House and the Senate all want to extend a Social Security payroll tax cut and jobless benefits through next year, why are they fighting so bitterly over doing it?

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Forbes | Don't Extend The Ill-Conceived, Evil Payroll Tax Cut
That this temporary cut in the Social Security payroll tax enjoyed bipartisan support a year ago shows the extent to which the Keynesian Superstition pervades both of our political parties. Members on both sides of the aisle bought into the fantasy that “putting money into people’s pockets” would increase demand. It didn’t. Economic growth slowed markedly at the exact moment that the payroll tax cut was enacted.

Budget

News                                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Payroll Tax Tiff Times 25 Awaits Congress
The brinksmanship in Congress over a payroll tax-cut extension may end up looking like a quaint disagreement by next December, when lawmakers must grapple with a fiscal policy debate at least 25 times more costly.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Politico | Fitch issues warning about U.S. debt
Fitch warned Wednesday that the United States’ rising debt was not “consistent” with the country’s AAA credit, but the ratings agency said it wouldn’t act until at least 2013.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Cato @Liberty | Truth in Budget Reporting
Newspaper articles on government budgets virtually never tell the reader the two most important facts: What was the budget last year, and what is it this year?

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | Unemployment benefits extension: What's at stake
In 11 days, a provision will expire that could cause jobless Americans to lose a critical lifeline next year. The White House estimates that by Jan. 14, some 697,000 unemployed Americans could lose benefits. By March 3, the number of Americans poised to lose benefits will top 2.6 million.
Market Watch | Initial jobless claims lowest since April 2008
First-time filings for claims fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 364,000 in the week ended Dec. 17. The four-week average of initial claims — a smoother gauge than the weekly data — fell 8,000 to 380,250, the fewest since June 2008.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Vital Signs: Slowing U.S. Population Growth
U.S. population growth has slowed. America’s population grew by 2.2 million between July 2010 and July 2011 to reach a total of 311.6 million, according to Census estimates.