Tuesday, January 24, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | State of the Union: 4 things to look for
Economic terms, including "tax," "spend" and "jobs" are among the most frequently used words in recent State of the Union speeches. In 2009, Obama used the word "economy" a total of 23 times in his unofficial address. In 2010, that number dropped to 15, before falling to 7 mentions last year.
Market Watch | Japan’s central bank cuts economic forecast
The Bank of Japan Tuesday cut its economic growth forecasts through fiscal 2012, while keeping its interest-rate target unchanged.
CNN Money | Has Obama's housing policy failed?
President Obama is expected to once again offer ways to help the beleaguered housing market in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. But don't look for Obama to announce any major new initiatives.
Market Watch | Investors eagerly eye U.S. foreclosure rental plan
Matt Martin, CEO of Matt Martin Real Estate Management, is eagerly awaiting the introduction of a program that the Obama administration hopes will transform foreclosed properties into rehabilitated rental units and kick-start the economy.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | FHA Watch, January 2012
The FHA continues to expand and crowd out the private sector. It is guaranteeing more high-risk loans than low-risk ones, has close to one million mortgages in its foreclosure pipeline, and is permitted to project its financial health using accounting rules based on rosy projections extending decades into the future, all the while ignoring that it is already insolvent and needs a bailout to the tune of tens of billions of dollars by any reasonable accounting standard.
Washington Times | State of the Union 2012: Losing the future
In 2011, President Obama pledged to help the United States win the future. Now that the future has arrived, Mr. Obama will have a hard time explaining why we are losing it.
WSJ | A Hazard of Fortunes
The Federal Reserve policy of holding interest rates low to minimize the cost of federal profligacy is giving managers of pension funds a multi-billion-dollar headache. The return-on-investment targets of 7% to 8% that are structured into pension plans are beyond reach in today's artificial environment.
Atlantic | Making It in America
In the past decade, the flow of goods emerging from U.S. factories has risen by about a third. Factory employment has fallen by roughly the same fraction. The story of Standard Motor Products, a 92-year-old, family-run manufacturer based in Queens, sheds light on both phenomena.
American | Snapshot of a Creative Destruction
Eastman Kodak, one of the iconic American companies for most of the 20th century, likewise rose to greatness on the basis of a new technology. Now, apparently, it will die because of another.
NY Post | Corporations and citizens have become addicted to handouts — turning America into a nation of moochers
Woe, in other words, to the United States in 2012, an orgy of corporate welfare, cronyism, subsidies, handouts and bailouts. Economists call those who game the system for income they haven’t earned “rent seekers.”
Forbes | China Is 175.6% Dependent on the U.S.
Commerce Department figures show that, through the first 11 months of last year, China’s trade surplus against the United States was $272.3 billion.  That’s up from $252.4 billion for the same period in 2010, a 7.9% increase.

Heritage Foundation | Obama’s New “Fairness Doctrine” and the American Ideal
“Economic fairness” is expected to be the topic of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, during which he will likely sound the same populist notes of progressivism that America heard last month in his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas.
Marginal Revolution | A good paper and model of (part of) the financial crisis
Short-term collateralized debt, private money, is efficient if agents are willing to lend without producing costly information about the collateral backing the debt.
National Review | SOTU: Are You Ready for More Fake Promises and Wishful Thinking?
What can we expect tomorrow night? The answer is: More of the same. Here is a list of things that the president will promise to do and their true meaning.

Health Care

Politico | States waiting on SCOTUS could hamper exchanges
Uncertainty over the fate of health reform, centered on the Supreme Court case and the presidential election, has led some states to adopt a wait-and-see approach that may make it impossible for them to meet Health and Human Service’s timeline for building their own insurance exchanges.
National Journal | White House Memos Reveal Health Care Quandaries -- Report
Here are the health care highlights from hundreds of pages of White House memos, analyzed by The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | Should Everyone Be Required to Have Health Insurance?
When Washington begins penalizing people for not purchasing health insurance in 2014, it will mark the first time in history the federal government has required nearly all Americans to buy a private product as a condition of lawful residence in the U.S.


CNN Money | Meet the new Federal Reserve members
The Federal Open Market Committee's new roster includes presidents Jeffrey Lacker of Richmond, Sandra Pianalto of Cleveland, Dennis Lockhart of Atlanta and John Williams of San Francisco.
Market Watch | Fed plans makeover meant to soothe hawks and doves
For the first time, Fed officials will release forecasts for their best guess of the path of short-term rates for coming years. They will also provide the likely time of the first rate hike and will also disclose qualitative assessments of the role of the balance sheet ahead.


National Journal | Congress Back to Work on Payroll-Tax Holiday
The 20 lawmakers assigned to negotiate a long-term extension of the payroll-tax holiday will launch another battle against a ticking clock on Tuesday, after early optimism that they could reach a deal quickly began to erode as soon as Congress returned to Capitol Hill on Monday.

WSJ | OECD Urges Tax Changes to Boost Growth, Reduce Inequality
Governments should eliminate tax relief on mortgage interest payments and pension contributions, and tax capital gains from the sale of residential property in order to boost growth and reduce inequality, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Monday.


USA Today | More workers moving for out-of-state jobs
A modestly growing number of Americans are moving out of state to get a job, a development that could cut unemployment and better match workers with positions, staffing officials and reports say.
Bloomberg | Obama Speech to Embrace Manufacturing for Job Creation
President Barack Obama tonight will lay out what he calls a “blueprint” for revitalizing the economy, emphasizing a rebirth for U.S. manufacturing, bolstering domestic energy production and training workers.
USA Today | Job bias claims in U.S. at record level
Job discrimination complaints in the United States rose to an all-time high last year, led by an increase in bias charges based on religion and national origin.
USA Today | Seniors decide retirement doesn't suit them, keep working
The percentage of people who work and people who want to work has increased markedly in both the 65-and-older and 75-and-older groups, says Sara Rix, senior adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Big Labor's Wisconsin Vendetta
Since last summer, unions have fired every weapon in their arsenal at Mr. Walker and state senators who voted for his collective-bargaining reforms for government workers.
Heritage Foundation | Government’s Proper Role in Creating Jobs: Top Five Actions to Take
As government revenue dropped in a contracting economy, Congress drove America further into debt with government spending in the name of economic “stimulus,” most egregiously with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).


National Journal | President Obama's Budget Delayed Until Feb. 13
The White House will release its budget a week late, on Monday, Feb. 13, according to an administration official.
CNN Money | Greek debt deal hinges on interest rate impasse
Disagreements remain over the interest rate private investors will be paid on new bonds they receive in exchange for existing Greek government debt, said Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the Eurogroup of finance ministers from the 17 nations that use the euro.
Bloomberg | Japan’s Fiscal Pressure Intensifies as Tax-Boost Plan Insufficent: Economy
Japan’s government said it will probably miss its goal of balancing the budget by 2020 even with its proposed doubling of the sales tax, underscoring the scale of the nation’s fiscal challenges.
WSJ | U.K. Net Debt Hits Record High
U.K. public sector borrowing remained on target in December but net debt hit a record £1 trillion ($1.557 trillion), a reminder of the huge task the government faces to get the country's public finances on a more sustainable footing, official figures showed Tuesday.

Marginal Revolution | What would a sovereign debt crisis look like in the United States?
We’re talking a long-term gap of ~4% of GDP, something that’s hard, not impossible to close. Congress needs to add to 4: Find some combination of credible long-term tax hikes and spending cuts that add to 4% of GDP. Then the markets stop worrying.
WSJ | What’s Going on With Debt in U.S.?
As we reported recently a new McKinsey Global Institute report says the U.S. economy is further along the deleveraging curve than a lot of other big, rich economies