Thursday, February 9, 2012

General Economics

Politico | D.C. area Dems blast GOP pension-cut plan
Washington-area Democratic lawmakers say House Republicans are picking on federal workers by targeting pension plans to pay for mass transit programs.
Washington Times | Student debt often leads to bankruptcy, lawyers find
Four out of five bankruptcy lawyers reported a “significant” increase in clients seeking help with college loan debt, and 40 percent said such cases have increased by at least 25 percent in just the past three years, the report says.
Politico | Congress rating drops to new low
Gallup said in new poll Wednesday that a mere 10 percent of 1,029 participants approve of Congress’s performance – a record low for the respected polling outfit.
National Journal | House Overwhelmingly Passes STOCK Act
The House on Thursday in a 417 to 2 vote passed the STOCK Act to bar lawmakers from trading stocks based on nonpublic information.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | A nation of moochers
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned Tuesday against both raising taxes and cutting spending. In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, Mr. Bernanke said we must protect the fragile economic recovery
WSJ | U.S., Banks Agree on Foreclosure Pact
Government officials have finalized an agreement worth as much as $26 billion with five major banks, capping a yearlong push to settle federal and state probes of alleged foreclosure abuses by lenders.
Washington Times | Dodd-Frank won’t prevent next bank bailout
There always have been bank failures and always will be. The trick is to allow sufficient risk to promote economic growth but not so much that it leads to widespread failures and financial panic.
AEI | Wanted: a user's manual for capitalism
Only by knowing who owned and owed what, could a rational system of buying, selling, insuring, and producing take hold.

Heritage Foundation | Even Krugman Agrees–Economy in a Dead-Cat-Bounce Recovery
Despite a recent spate of good economic data, including last week’s jobs report, the U.S. economy remains deeply depressed. Don’t take my word for it. That’s how Paul Krugman, leftist econo-pundit extraordinaire, describes the economy.
WSJ | Falling U.S. Share of Trade Not Due to Competitiveness Problems
New research published by the New York Fed Tuesday argues the U.S. isn’t suffering as badly on the trade front as many now believe.
Neighborhood Effects | What Happens When The Regulators Are Biased?
Behavioral economics (BE) examines the implications for decision-making when actors suffer from biases documented in the psychological literature. This article considers how such biases affect regulatory decisions.

Health Care

National journal | Hill Republicans Pounce on Birth Control Debate
Republicans pounced on what they see as a golden opportunity to score political points on Wednesday, leaping into an ongoing controversy about contraception by saying the Obama administration is undercutting religious freedom.
CRS | Health Insurance Coverage of Children, 2010
In 2010, 90% of children had health insurance coverage in the United States, and 10% of children were uninsured.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | An evolutionary and natural choice for Medicare reform
Unless you’ve been isolated on Gilligan’s Island, you probably know Medicare spending is soaring. So are Medicare’s unfunded promises, now in the tens of trillions of dollars.

Heritage Foundation | Side Effects: Medicare Advantage Gains Won’t Last
Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that average premiums in Medicare Advantage (MA) for 2012 have fallen by 7 percent, and enrollment has increased by about 10 percent.
CATO | ObamaCare’s Coercive Essence
The GOP will win the current contraceptive-abortifacient battle going away, because the average American understands the essence of religious freedom
Atlantic | Battle Over California Medicaid Reimbursement Is a Preview of Our Future
With a dramatic Medicaid expansion on its way, and more and more of the rest of the health care system under the control of the government, the fights are going to get uglier.
CATO | The Wise Crowds Say Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional, a project of the Constitution-educating Harlan Institute, has been tracking its 12,000+ members’ predictions in the Obamacare case before the Supreme Court. 


Market Watch | ECB mum on Greek bonds, eases collateral
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi announced Thursday that Greek politicians struck a long-sought agreement on additional austerity measures, but wouldn’t reveal whether the institution would forgo profits on its own holdings of Greek government bonds in order to cut the country’s debt load.
Bloomberg | Credit-Default Swaps in U.S. Reverse Rise as Greece Strikes Austerity Deal
A benchmark gauge of U.S. company credit risk reversed an earlier rise as Greek political leaders struck a deal on austerity measures needed for a rescue package, curbing concern Europe’s fiscal crisis may escalate.
CNN Money | Chinese inflation rate picks up
Consumer prices rose 4.5% over a year ago, China's National Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday, marking a pick-up from a 4.1% inflation rate the month before.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | The Limits Of Monetary Policy Call For Moral, Sound Money
The American public does not like the fact that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has vastly expanded the size and scope of the nation’s central bank and bailed out Wall Street while Main Street suffered. 
Real Clear Markets | Having Wrecked the Banks, the Feds Target Money Funds
Though the interim years make the late ‘90s increasingly hazy, back then cash management via money market funds was a fairly simple concept.


Bloomberg | Payroll-Tax Cut Talks Move Behind Closed Doors to Avoid Lapse
U.S. House and Senate lawmakers negotiating an extension of a payroll tax cut will begin moving their talks behind closed doors as they seek to resolve differences with less than three weeks before the tax break expires.
Bloomberg | Corporate Coalition Says Obama Investment Taxes Near World High
A coalition of business groups and companies including Altria Group Inc. and Xcel Energy Inc. is warning Congress that failing to extend tax breaks on investment income would make U.S. tax rates on capital gains and dividends among the highest in the industrialized world.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fiscal Times | Taxing the Shrinking Class of Millionaires
President Obama's proposed "Buffett Rule" reminded me of a blog I wrote a few months ago on the impact of the recession on millionaire incomes and the taxes they pay.
The American | The Forgotten Man of the Tax Debate
Obama, Romney, and Buffett, listen up. In all the bickering over incentives and tax fairness, there has been little mention of the thing that matters most of all: cash.
AEI | A plausible first step toward tax reform
Tax reform perpetually tops policymakers' lists for ways to grow the economy, but a generation has passed since the last successful effort, the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

National Review | On the Progressivity of the U.S. Federal Tax System
While I would rather not see taxes go up and would like to see a fundamental reform of the overall tax system, I am absolutely against the current state of affairs where we keep pushing the bill for our current spending onto future generations.
Tax Foundation | Oklahoma Governor Proposes “Most Significant Tax Cut in State History”
During her February 6th State of the State address, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) proposed a plan to reform the state's income tax that she called "the most significant tax cut in state history."


Washington Times | Job openings jump to near a 3-year high
The number of available jobs in the United States jumped in December to near a three-year high, supporting other data that show a brighter outlook for hiring.
USA Today | PepsiCo announces 8,700 job cuts as net income rises
The jobs cuts represent 3% of its work force. The company says it expects to save $1.5 billion by 2014.
CNN Money | Fewer young adults hold jobs than ever before
The share of young adults with jobs has hit its lowest level since the government started keeping records just after World War II.
NY Times | Obama Advisers Offer Rosier Jobs Outlook
Drawing on a string of improved economic data, advisers to President Obama have updated their forecasts in recent days and now project that the economy will create two million jobs this year if stimulus measures are extended, which could reduce the unemployment rate to about 8 percent by year’s end.
Market Watch | U.S. jobless claims fall 15,000 to 358,000
U.S. jobless claims fell by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 358,000 in the week ended Feb. 4, the Labor Department said Thursday.

WSJ | Study Finds Lack of Mobility Not Holding Back Employment
Negative housing values haven’t prevented enough homeowners from moving to get a new job to have a big impact on overall unemployment in the U.S., a paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said.
WSJ | Bernanke Says Jobless Benefits Provide Support, May Lengthen Unemployment
Federal jobless benefits can help support families of the unemployed and stabilize the economy, but may also lead to slightly longer spells of unemployment, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers Tuesday.


CNN Money | Greece reaches deal on austerity
Greek leaders finally agreed to a series of austerity measures, the first step toward securing a €130 billion bailout that Greece so desperately needs.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Investors | The Burden Of Federal Rules: Our Other Trillion-Dollar Debt
During the State of the Union address, President Barack Obama ridiculed regulations like one designating spilled milk an "oil," and exclaimed, "In fact, I've approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his."
WSJ | No Budget, No Problem
The Senate last passed a budget 1,106 days ago—that would be almost three years—and now the White House is telling Democrats not to bother this year either. Harry Reid will be pleased, because last week the Majority Leader said he had no plans to do so.
Heritage Foundation | FY 2012 Spending Blows Through Cap, CBO Shows
As House appropriators begin hearings on fiscal year (FY) 2013 spending,[1] a second look at last week’s Congressional Budget Office report shows they already have exceeded their official Budget Control Act limits for the current year by a stunning $156 billion.