Thursday, January 12, 2012

General Economics

CNN: Money | Foreign firms invest big in U.S. energy boom
Foreign firms, hungry to cash in on the American energy boom, have invested nearly $6 billion in U.S. gas and oil drilling in the last few weeks.
Market Watch | U.S. retail sales rise scant 0.1% in December
Sales at U.S. retailers increased 0.1% in December, the government said Thursday, in a report that bucked expectations of stronger sales during the holiday period.
NY Times | Survey Finds Rising Perception of Class Tension
Conflict between rich and poor now eclipses racial strain and friction between immigrants and the native-born as the greatest source of tension in American society, according to a survey released Wednesday.
Market Watch | Foreclosure activity lowest since 2007
Foreclosure activity hit a 49-month low in December, with foreclosure filings at their lowest monthly level since November 2007, according to RealtyTrac’s monthly report.
CNN: Money | Can anyone save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
Both agencies, which play key roles in helping to secure financing for homeowners, have continued to rack up sizeable financial losses over the past few years. It is estimated that their bailout will eventually cost taxpayers as much as $124 billion through 2014.
NY Times | Online Map Shows Biggest Greenhouse Gas Emitters
The Environmental Protection Agency for the first time is making available detailed information on sources of greenhouse gas emissions, from the Mount Sinai Hospital heating plant in Manhattan to the nation’s largest coal-burning power plant in Georgia.

Econ Comments and Analysis                                                                                          
RCM | How Fannie, Freddie and Politicians Caused the Crisis
Investors in GSE securities were led to believe that the vast majority of the loans backing these securities were low risk. Thanks to the SEC's investigation, the GSEs have, for the first time, acknowledged the magnitude of their efforts to mislead investors with regard the true nature of their exposure to subprime and Alt-A loans.
Forbes | Forget Systemic Risk, Let's Look For System Saving Events
With most of the risk management world squinting and scanning the horizon looking for systemic risk events, I’d like to take at least one contrarian moment to scan the horizon for system saving events (SSE).
AEI | Uncertainty is more dangerous than risk; error is more dangerous than fraud
Europe's banks and entire monetary system are in crisis from the sovereign debt of financially weak governments.But the capital requirement for banks to hold such Euro denominated debt was zero.
CRS | Housing Issues in the 112th Congress
This report provides a brief summary of major housing issues that are active in, or may be considered by, the 112th Congress. It does not provide comprehensive coverage of the issues or closely track active legislation, but it includes references to related CRS products that offer more detailed information and analysis.
WSJ | A Step Backward for Economic Freedom in 2012
Countries in North America and Europe led the global decline thanks to excessive government regulation and stimulus spending.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Economists in WSJ Survey Forecast Short Euro Zone Recession
The euro zone will most likely experience a short recession, but the common currency will be under pressure for years to come, according to economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal.
Daily Capitalist | California Looking Greece-ier
Perhaps in keeping with its good government traditions, the brokest state in the Union the governors of which do not routinely go to jail issues monthly statements recording its fiscal ineptitude.
Mercatus Center | Genuine Economic Progress is about Higher Incomes AND Lower Prices
From the perspective of a worker, the point of a job is not simply to have a paycheck; it is to have a paycheck that permits one to buy useful goods and services.
Daily Capitalist | The Mobility Gap: What Does It Mean?
This subject merits attention because we should aspire to live in a society in which someone born in (relative) poverty can work his or her way up to better material circumstances, even if lower-income people are richer than their earlier counterparts.

Health Care

National Journal | QUICK TAKE: Top 1 Percent of Health Care Spenders Account for a Fifth of Total Bill
The top 1 percent of health care spenders were responsible for more than 20 percent of all health care spending, according to a new analysis from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent were responsible for only 2.9 percent of the nation's health care bill.

Heritage Foundation | Health Spending Down—Because People Are Avoiding Care
Including the highest unemployment rate in twenty-seven years, a substantial loss of private health insurance coverage, employers’ increased caution about hiring and investing during the recovery, and the lowest median inflation adjusted household income since 1996.
NRO | Haste Made Waste: Obamacare’s Rushed Regulations
The Obama administration’s “early interim final” health-care regulations score about the same as the Bush administration’s regulations for homeland security — on the Mercatus Center’s Regulatory Report Card, both would receive an average grade of F.


Bloomberg | China’s Inflation Cools for Fifth Month, May Presage More Easing: Economy
China’s inflation cooled to a 15- month low and producer-price gains were the smallest in 2 years in December, leaving the government more room to support growth as a global slowdown hurts exports.
Market Watch | European Central Bank holds rates steady
Bank of England keeps rates, quantitative-easing program unchanged.

Econ Comments and Analysis                                                                                          
Bloomberg | Fed Officials Split on Easing
Federal Reserve officials disagreed on the need for more easing amid signs of improvement in the economy that may shape the interest-rate forecasts they will reveal for the first time this month.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Plosser: Fed May Have to Raise Rates Before Mid-2013
The Federal Reserve may have to tighten monetary policy before many now expect, a central bank official said in a speech that also said the U.S. economy will do better in 2012 amid improved labor markets.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Kocherlakota Shines Light on Mechanics of Fed Meetings
When Ben Bernanke took command of the Federal Reserve, the former academic was widely reported to have brought a more free-wheeling, open debate to monetary policy meetings, in a break from Alan Greenspan‘s tightly controlled discussions.
Calculated Risk | Fed's Beige Book: Economic activity increased at "modest to moderate" pace
Contact reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that national economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace during the reporting period of late November through the end of December.


NY Times | Obama Calls for Tax Breaks to Return Jobs From Abroad
President Obama said on Wednesday that he would propose tax incentives for companies to bring home manufacturing jobs they had moved overseas, and curtail tax breaks for those that keep relocating jobs abroad.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | European Financial-Transaction Tax: ‘Loch Ness Monster’ Likely Disappearing Again
Introduction of a European tax on purchases of stocks and bonds is looking less likely the more European leaders talk about it.


WSJ | The Factory Floor Has a Ceiling on Job Creation
Recent news from the nation's factories has been good. In the past two years, manufacturing employment has grown by 334,000, a welcome upturn in a nation short of jobs.
CNN Money | Obama to business: Bring jobs home
President Obama is meeting with executives from 14 companies Wednesday to encourage them to bring jobs back to the United States.
WSJ | ADM to Cut 1,000 Jobs
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. said Wednesday that it will cut 1,000 jobs, or 3% of its total work force, highlighting the challenges faced by the agribusiness sector as market volatility cuts into trading profits.
Bloomberg | U.S. Jobless Claims Rise More Than Forecast
More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, raising the possibility that a greater-than-usual increase in temporary holiday hiring boosted December payrolls.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | EDITORIAL: Employment advice for Obama
Tax hikes don’t put people to work.
RCM | NLRB: Obama Bludgeons the Constitution
Unfortunately, far less has been heard about the president's three "recess" appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, a small independent agency that oversees some 6 million workplaces in which unions represent employees.

American: Enterprise Blog | Why do entrepreneurs start businesses? Well, it ain’t to create jobs
The pursuit of profits—by creating real value—benefits the rest of society through better products and services … and  jobs and higher incomes
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Vital Signs: Still More Than 4 Job Seekers Per Opening
U.S. job seekers gained a slight edge in November. The number of unemployed people per job opening fell to 4.21 from 4.27 in the previous month.
American: Enterprise Blog | Bringing jobs back to America
The American president has a request of Corporate America…
EconLog | What is a Structurally Impaired Job?
I am skeptical that aggregate industry data can be used to distinguish unsustainable jobs from sustainable ones.


CNN Money | Germany and Italy sound upbeat on debt crisis
The leaders of Germany and Italy sought to present a united front Wednesday in the fight to resolve the eurozone debt crisis and revive the ailing European economy.
NY Times | Budget Cuts Hamper the I.R.S. in Efforts to Collect Billions in Taxes, Report Says
An expanding workload and cuts in funds have left the Internal Revenue Service unable to adequately perform either of its primary duties — collecting taxes and providing the public with reasonable service, according to a report released Wednesday by the I.R.S.’s internal monitor.
WSJ | A New Generation Tackles the Euro Crisis
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will convene the ECB's first meeting of 2012 on Thursday, and lead a debate on monetary policy and the euro zone's debt crisis with a group of colleagues young enough to be his sons.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | Sovereign Debt Crisis Threatens Europe's Economic Freedom
Iceland, Great Britain gain; Greece falls most in world.