Tuesday, January 31, 2012

General Economics

Market Watch | U.S. house prices slide 1.3% in November
U.S. house prices dropped sharply in November to mark the third straight drop, according to a closely followed index released Tuesday.
National Journal | Senate GOP Introduces Keystone XL Bill
Forty-three GOP senators—along with one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia—introduced legislation on Monday mandating that Congress approve the controversial oil-sands pipeline.
Bloomberg | Foreclosures Draw Private Equity as U.S. Selling 200,000 Homes: Mortgages
Private equity firms are jumping into distressed housing as the U.S. government plans to market 200,000 foreclosed homes as rentals to speed up the economic recovery.
WSJ | Rising Income Is Saved, Not Spent
Incomes ticked up in December but consumers chose to save instead of spend, suggesting a still-cautious outlook that likely has carried into 2012.
Market Watch | Consumer-confidence gauge falls to 61.1 in January
A gauge of U.S. consumer confidence fell to 61.1 in January, partly reversing substantial gains in the prior two months, as views on current business conditions and employment declined, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | The housing recovery that wasn't
The evidence for a recovery is compelling, but optimists should actually be watching rising interest rates.
WSJ | Keystone Can Help the Gulf—and the Northeast
Former House speaker and current Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested at a press briefing this month that the pipeline would have no value to the U.S
Forbes | President Obama's Blueprint For Expanding Government Power
The President’s vision of the path forward for America is to imagine ourselves as members of a military organization with the American people selflessly following the orders of their superior officers no matter the personal cost up through the chain of command to the President as Commander in Chief. 
Washington Times | Obama’s frack attack
Unless the president sticks to his promise of an “all-out, all-of-the-above” energy strategy and keeps the carbon haters at bay, America's energy future will be at risk.
Politico | Making room for new, old economies
The announcements by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) that they would not run for reelection reflects what may be the last gasps of the Great Plains Democrats

Calculated Risk | A few policies I expect soon
Housing, payroll tax extension, a Greek deal and more ...
Atlantic | Federal Worker Pay: How Much is Too Much?
The disparity in benefits is even larger; the CBO estimates it at 48% higher than comparable civilian employment.
The American | Is it unfair to compare the Obama and Reagan economic recoveries? No
Subtract the housing rebound from the Reagan Recovery and GDP still grows twice as fast as during the Obama Recovery.

Health Care

National Journal | US Joins Groups Against Tropical Diseases
The World Health Organization says 1 billion people worldwide — one person in seven — suffer from such tropical diseases, spread by worms, flies, mosquitoes, bacteria and parasites.
National Journal | New Rules on Military Caregiver Leave Move Forward
The U.S. Labor Department issued proposed rules on Monday that would make it easier for military caregivers to take time off.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | CBO makes it official: Federal workers get better benefits
Federal workers enjoy much better benefits — including health insurance, retirement and paid vacation — than private sector workers, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Bernanke Fed Is Killing the Economic Patient
The members of the Federal Reserve Board led by a doctor of different stripes, Ben Bernanke, could learn more from House of God than all the economics books they devour on the way to grandiose visions of fixing what ails us economically.
CNBC | Rates May Need to Rise Sooner: Philly Fed's Plosser
If the U.S. economy keeps improving, interest rates should be raised this year or in the middle of next year at the latest, Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser told CNBC Monday.

CATO | Chinese Currency and the U.S. Financial Crisis
China was eager to buy our debt, both Treasury bonds and Fannie and Freddie’s debt. But it was Congress that ran the deficits, and the Fed that kept interest rates artificially low.
Minyanville | What the Fed Is Doing to Gold
The price action in the S&P 500 Thursday was certainly bearish short term, but a back test of 1,300 or possibly even 1,280 could give rise to a Phoenix.


CNN Money | Obama's tax record
Republicans portray President Obama as the tax-hiker-in-chief. Obama portrays himself as a tax cutter for the masses but not the rich. The truth isn't so cut and dry.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obama’s odd sense of fairness
In his State of Union address, President Obama said millionaires should pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income in taxes. The 30 percent number seems to have come from divine inspiration rather than an exercise in logic.

Greg Mankiw | How much would a Buffett Tax raise?
Obama’s still-vague Buffett Tax would apparently impose a minimum 30 percent tax rate on incomes exceeding $1 million. With economic growth, the 10-year total might optimistically be $600 billion to $700 billion. It would be a tiny help; that’s all.
Atlantic | Differences in Work and Leisure Across Countries
An apparent paradox that frequently puzzles journalists is that Europeans work fewer hours than workers in the United States, while in some countries, hourly productivity appears to be the same, or even higher, than that of American workers.
CATO | Lower Tax Rates Are the Best Way to Reduce Tax Evasion
Simply stated, people respond to incentives. When tax rates are punitive, folks earn and report less taxable income, and vice-versa.


Bloomberg | German Unemployment Fell in January
The number of people out of work fell a seasonally adjusted 34,000 to 2.85 million, the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said today.
National Journal | CBO Sees Unemployment Above 7 Percent Until 2015
In an election year centered on dueling themes of high unemployment and a massive federal deficit, the outlook contains several calculations both Democrats and Republicans will be sure to pounce on.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | CBO makes it official: Federal workers get better benefits
The federal government spent an average of 48 percent more on benefits for its employees than private employers spent between 2005 and 2010.
NBER | Family Proximity, Childcare, and Women's Labor Force Attachment
We show that close geographical proximity to mothers or mothers-in-law has a substantial positive effect on the labor supply of married women with young children.


WSJ | U.S. Gets Tougher on Debt Collecting
The Federal Trade Commission intensified its crackdown on the booming debt-collection industry, announcing a $2.5 million settlement with a company for allegedly coercing borrowers into paying debts they no longer legally owed.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022
Each January, CBO prepares “baseline” budget projections spanning the next 10 years. Those projections are not a forecast of future events; rather, they are intended to provide a benchmark against which potential policy changes can be measured.

The American | The Obama stimulus: How Big Government screwed up the Big Spend
It was the Democrats’ Best and Brightest—but not one with a smidgen of executive experience in either the private or public sector. And into their hands was entrusted an $800 billion stimulus spending plan, a package whose details were fleshed out by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. What could go wrong?