Thursday, January 5, 2012

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Services in U.S. May Show Economy Picking Up
Service industries in the U.S. probably grew in December at the fastest pace in three months, showing the economy picked up as 2011 drew to a close, economists said before a report today.
USA Today | Obama bypasses Senate, installs new consumer chief
A defiant President Obama, tired of Senate Republicans stalling his nominee to lead a new consumer protection agency, put him in charge Wednesday over their opposition.
Bloomberg | Fed Report Says Greater Fannie, Freddie Losses May Help Housing Recovery
The study, delivered today to leaders of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees, noted “tension” between aiding the economy and minimizing losses of the failed government-sponsored enterprises, which depend on taxpayer aid for survival.
Investors.com | 2011 Auto Industry Sales Boon To U.S. Manufacturing
Car sales are strongly up with automakers reporting U.S. data for all of 2011 Wednesday, as domestic brands overall, led by Chrysler, gained market share.
NY Times | Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs
The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | Solyndra on Rails
California's high-speed rail project 'is not financially feasible.'
WSJ | Beijing in the Driver's Seat
China still needs foreign auto makers, but investors would be wise to plan for the day it won't.
Fox News | America's Future Is Oil
Don’t be fooled claims that fossil fuels are doomed. Alternative fuels won’t be coming on line anytime soon, certainly not enough to replace the essential role that oil, natural gas, and coal play in our economy from sources of energy to modern plastics and petrochemicals.
WSJ | Contempt for Congress
Obama makes recess appointments when there's no recess.
WSJ | Where to Put Your Money in 2012
U.S. stocks should produce returns of about 7% going forward, five points higher than the yield on safe bonds.
WSJ | Badly Written Bad Rules
New studies show the quality of federal regulation is plummeting.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Econlog | Some Questions About Government
As corporations become large, they become more powerful in some ways, but they also become clumsy. As government gets large, I see the clumsiness. What I do not see is any tendency for the clumsiness of government to be corrected by competitive forces.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Charting Moves Across State Lines
More and more Americans are moving across state lines, according to moving company Atlas Van Lines.
AEI: The American | January Surprise: Is Obama preparing a trillion-dollar, mass refinancing of mortgages?
This could be just the beginning. If President Barack Obama’s legally dodgy appointment of Richard Cordray to head the consumer finance agency should stick, it may open the door to more such actions.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Senate Republicans Could Delay Fed Confirmations Over Recess Appointment Fight
President Barack Obama‘s contentious decision to use a recess appointment to install the first director of a new consumer financial agency could result in delays to Senate confirmations of two recently announced appointees to the Federal Reserve Board, two Senate Republican leadership aides said.

Health Care

News                                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | Doctors going broke
Doctors in America are harboring an embarrassing secret: Many of them are going broke. This quiet reality, which is spreading nationwide, is claiming a wide range of casualties, including family physicians, cardiologists and oncologists.
Market Watch | Hospitals continue downfall on funding woes
Share of hospital companies that could be vulnerable to government funding cuts continued to drop precipitously Wednesday.
National Journal | Cancer Rates Slope Down in U.S.
Death rates from cancer continue a slow but steady march downward in the United States, with a few exceptions, the American Cancer Society reported on Wednesday. The group estimates that the reduction translates to a million lives saved since 1990.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Econlog | The Long Run Is Nigh: Drum, Krugman, Disemployment and Obamacare
Back in 2009, before Obamacare became the law of the land, I pointed out its disemployment effects, and criticized Krugman for failing to consider them during a serious recession.
Heritage Foundation | DOJ Could Find ‘Discriminatory’ ID Requirements in Medicaid
Contrary to the Justice Department’s claims, the law is neither discriminatory nor a burden for voters, who can obtain a free ID if they don’t already have one.

Reports                                                                                                                         
CRS | Medicare Advantage Risk Adjustment and Risk Adjustment Data Validation Audits
This report describes how CMS pays providers under Medicare Advantage and how these payments are risk adjusted. In addition, it describes how risk scores for individual Medicare Advantage enrollees are initially generated and change over time, and it discusses how CMS audits risk-adjusted MA payments. It concludes with a short discussion of several concerns raised with risk adjustment and the audit process.

Monetary

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Slowing Inflation Gives Europe More Options
First Decline Since Summer Gives ECB More Flexibility on Moves to Tackle Debt Crisis.
Market Watch | China central-bank chief on yuan, 2012 forecasts
The Central Economic Work Conference clearly articulated macro-economic policy, taking into account two considerations: Efforts to prevent an economic downturn, and efforts to restrain inflation.
Fox News | US declines to cite China as currency manipulator
The Obama administration on Tuesday declined to label China a currency manipulator after seeing recent increases in the value of the yuan compared to the dollar.

Taxes

News                                                                                                                             
National Journal | Payroll-Tax Confereees Face Heavy Lift
The House Dems on the panel meet this week, the first of many confabs on both sides.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | EDITORIAL: Tax-haven wars
Congress is scheming to export IRS meddling overseas.
Washington Times | TUSZYNSKI: Reform our corporate tax code
How about a resolution to get America competitive again.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Political Calculations | Meet the Rich of 2012
Two days before Christmas 2011, the U.S. Congress acted to pass a temporary extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut that had originally been passed a year earlier, and which had been set to expire at the end of 2011.

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Initial Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall to 372,000
Applications for jobless benefits (INJCJC) decreased 15,000 in the week ended Dec. 31 to 372,000, Labor Department figures showed today.
Bloomberg | U.S. Companies Added 325,000 Jobs: ADP
Companies added more workers than forecast in December, a sign that the U.S. labor market was gaining momentum heading into 2012, according to a private report based on payrolls.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Washington Times | LEHRER: Unemployment numbers work
Complexity of workforce count defies accurate measure.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Calculated Risk | Question #6 for 2012: Unemployment Rate
6) Unemployment Rate: What will the unemployment rate be in December 2012?
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Jobless Rates Drop in Most Cities
Unemployment rates in most cities were below year-earlier levels in November, the Labor Department reported, but 133 of 372 metropolitan areas posted flat or declining employment from a November 2010.

Budget

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
RCM | 3 Lies They Tell Us About Budget Deficits
Thanks to an explosion of Keynesian deficit spending around the world, an explosion that has predictably correlated with weak economic output, major ink is being spilled about the economic crack-up unfolding before our eyes. To state the obvious, wasteful, capital destroying governments can only spend what they first extract from the private sector.