Friday, January 6, 2012

General Economics

Market Watch | Consumer board begins oversight of payday lenders
CFPB chief also to scrutinize student and local mortgage lenders.
Bloomberg | Confidence in Euro Region at Two-Year Low as German Orders Slide: Economy
European confidence in the economic outlook fell to the lowest in more than two years and German factory orders plunged as the euro area’s leaders struggled to contain a worsening fiscal crisis and global demand weakened.
National Journal | Five Breaks the U.S. Economy Needs (And Why We Might Get Them)
Hoping for a brighter 2012, economically, in America? You’ll need several big things to break your way. Great news – and, yes, we’re playing optimist here – it’s quite possible they all could. Here are the five breaks the U.S. economy needs this year.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
AEI | Gov. Walker: Controversial reforms have protected the middle class
Collective bargaining in the public sector is not a right; it's an expensive entitlement.
Washington Times | EDITORIAL: Moving America toward Europe’s excess
Transportation policies are increasing government dependency.
Fox Business | Data Suggests Mild Recession in the Eurozone
The euro zone's economy deepened its downturn at the end of 2011 as retail sales fell and sentiment soured, but the first improvement in the business climate in 10 months offered hope that an expected recession may be mild.
Washington Times | MILLOY: EPA’s statistics not science, but nonsense
Next to China’s, agency’s air quality numbers don’t add up.
NY Times | Manufacturing Is Surprising Bright Spot in U.S. Economy
For the first time in many years, manufacturing stands out as an area of strength in the American economy.
AEI | Don’t downplay likely fallout after Greek exit from euro
One has to reckon that Greece’s exit from the euro would lead to real contagion for the rest of the European periphery and that could precipitate a European banking crisis.

Econlog | Francis Fukuyama on Public Administration
So a key element in improving public administration is getting public officials to understand the difference between making a pronouncement (or passing a law or writing a regulation) and achieving results.
Café Hayek | The art of economics
It has become acceptable, in casual conversation, to say that markets don’t work. The demise of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent swoon of the global economy are often cited as evidence.

Health Care

National Journal | Report: Health Insurance Profits Rise Despite Health Care Reform
Health insurance companies made ever-widening profit margins in 2011, a result that defies the companies’ predictions that health care reform would put private insurers out of business, a Bloomberg Government analysis has found.
National Journal | HHS: Electronic Payments Will Save Billions
A new payment system for doctors and health insurers will save billions in administrative costs, according to the Health and Human Services Department.


Bloomberg | Fed Nears Adoption of Inflation Target
Federal Reserve officials are nearing agreement on adopting an inflation goal as Chairman Ben S. Bernanke extends his push for improving transparency and communications with the public.
CNBC | Fed Will Be Forced to Ease Again Soon: Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley is predicting that the economy will slow dramatically in early 2012, which it thinks will prompt another round of Fed asset purchases.

Econlog | Worth Reading
It seems as though we were better off before the Fed, the FDIC, and the IMF.
Atlantic: Megan McArdle | What Happened to the ECB's Heroic Intervention?
Central banks have a pretty dim record defending their currencies from devaluation pressures. Now we have a new question: can they defend the sovereign debt that's issued in that currency?
Coordination Problem | Central Banking and Knowledge Problems
Whether we “blame” central bankers or not is really a secondary consideration to our attempts to understand what happened and why. By assigning blame we suggest that the Fed should have done better.


Market Watch | Cutting 1 trillion yuan in China taxes
China must commit to broad range of structural reforms this year.
NY Times | Californians Are Asked for $6.9 Billion in New Taxes
Gov. Jerry Brown called on California voters Thursday to approve $6.9 billion in temporary new taxes, including a surcharge on big earners, as part of yet another bad-news budget proposal, this one for 2012.

Café Hayek | Paper and Plastic
Montgomery County, Maryland, has instituted a new policy requiring retailers to charge customers a nickel for plastic and paper bags. This is allegedly an environmental measure because plastic bags are bad for the Chesapeake Bay.


Bloomberg | U.S. Unemployment Falls to 8.5% as Jobs Gain
U.S. employers added more workers to payrolls than forecast in December and the jobless rate declined to an almost three-year low, showing that the labor market gained momentum heading into 2012.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Daily Caller | Guns create jobs
In New Hampshire, the gun issue isn’t just about the Second Amendment and freedom. More than 2,000 state residents are employed by firearms and defense-related manufacturers.

Heritage Foundation | What the New Obama Labor Board Means for Workers and Employers
Unions have now turned to the NLRB to boost their ranks—even though the NLRB is supposed to serve as a neutral arbitrator between unions and employers.
Calculated Risk | Employment Summary, Part Time Workers, and Unemployed over 26 Weeks
There were 200,000 payroll jobs added in December. This included 212,000 private sector jobs added, and 12,000 government jobs lost. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5% from a revised 8.7% in November.


CNN: Money | Europe's debt crisis: 'No clear end in sight'
Last year was supposed to be the make or break year for Europe's debt crisis. Neither happened. That means the chronic uncertainty that investors grappled with for most of 2011 is likely to continue, if not intensify, in the first half of this year.

Fox Business | Dangerous Debt
The latest budget tables from the White House's Office of Management and Budget reveal that The federal government actually spent $362 billion more in 2011 than in 2010.
ZeroHedge | US Closes 2011 With Record $15.22 Trillion In Debt, Officially At 100.3% Debt/GDP, $14 Billion From Breaching Debt Ceiling
While not news to Zero Hedge readers who knew about the final debt settlement of US debt about 10 days ahead of schedule, it is now official: according to the US Treasury, America has closed the books on 2011 with debt at an all time record $15,222,940,045,451.09.
Calculated Risk | Report: Greek Debt Deal Near
The Greek government expects to wrap up talks seeking a 50% writedown on its debt owed to creditor banks by the end of this month.