Wednesday, February 15, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | Greek economy stuck in a rut
As Greece continues to try to push through tough austerity measures to secure desperately needed bailout funds, the bad news just keeps piling up.
WSJ | Euro-Zone Economy Shrinks
The euro-zone economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2011 for the first time since the second quarter of 2009 as nine of the bloc's 17 member states posted a fall, underscoring forecasts for more of the same in 2012 as fiscal austerity continues to bite.
Market Watch | Euro-zone GDP contracts 0.3% in fourth quarter
Gross domestic product across the 17-nation euro zone contracted by 0.3% in the final three months of 2011 compared to the previous quarter
Bloomberg | European Leaders ‘Confident’ Greece Meeting Bailout Demands
Germany and the European Commission welcomed Greek approval of the austerity steps demanded for a financial lifeline, suggesting euro finance chiefs will pull Greece back from the brink when they meet in two days.
Politico | 'All-in' energy policy: Will coal be buried?
The industry landed a huge victory in 2010 with the demise of climate change legislation. But despite that win, and the Obama administration’s vocal support for an “all in” energy policy that includes a mix of new and traditional energy resources, a variety of forces is pushing coal back to the brink.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Washington's Knack for Picking Losers
Like the mythical monster Hydra—who grew two heads every time Hercules cut one off—President Obama, in both his State of the Union address and his new budget, has defiantly doubled down on his brand of industrial policy
Politico | Small-business owners fear health care costs
Almost half of small-business owners in the U.S. who are not hiring new employees say worries about the potential cost of health care and new government regulations are the reasons they are not hiring, according to a new Gallup Poll released Wednesday.
AEI | Seven steps needed to improve housing finance
This is of course Pharaoh's famous troubling dream, which Joseph correctly interpreted as meaning there would be seven good years followed by seven bad years -a dream highly relevant to 21st century housing finance.
Heritage Foundation | Delayed Recovery Historically Slow
In his State of the Union address on January 24, President Barack Obama argued that the U.S. economy is roaring back. He pointed to 22 consecutive months of private-sector job growth and the fastest net private-sector job creation since 2005.
WSJ | Ready for Another Rotten Highway Bill?
The Congressional Budget Office now estimates that our national debt could nearly double over the next 10 years—to an astounding $29.4 trillion from $15 trillion today—so you might think Washington would be looking to stop the fiscal train wreck. You'd be wrong.
Politico | White House's manufacturing math may not add up
President Barack Obama is promising new factory jobs that he can’t really deliver — even the companies on his own jobs council have shrunk their workforce.
Washington Times | Downgrading Europe
As the smoke cleared from another weekend of riots in Athens, more gloom descended on Europe.
Forbes | Auction the Spectrum, Grow the Economy
It seems like a century, but just 16 years have passed since President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

WSJ | Economists React: Euro Zone GDP ‘Could Have Been Worse’
The euro-zone economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2011 by 0.3%, marking the first decline since the second quarter of 2009, as the euro crisis and deep downturns in peripheral countries weighed on growth.
The American | When economies go bad…
America’s Great Recession was pretty bad. GDP fell by 5.1 percent. The narrowest measure of unemployment more than doubled to 10 percent. Real disposable personal income fell 7.3 percent.
WSJ | Odd Retail Data Aren’t as Worrying as Rising Gas Prices
Data released Tuesday showed shoppers were less responsive to retailers’ come-ons in December and January. Retail sales increased just 0.4% in January, less than the 0.9% forecast.
Daily Capitalist | Is This Recovery? Part I
There is a lot of good news to buoy the markets and give cheer to the public. We hear that new jobless claims are down another 15,000 to 358,000, the ninth week of declines out of the last ten, finally breaking below the 400,000 mark
WSJ | Fed’s Kocherlakota Offers Economic Projections
Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Narayana Kocherlakota said Tuesday he expects the U.S. to grow at an annual rate between 2.5% and 3.0% over the next two years.
Political Calculations | What's Driving U.S. Fuel Efficiency?
We recently tapped the U.S. Department of Transportation's Traffic Volume Trends report to use the data it provides on the total miles accumulated by Americans on the nation's roads as a measure of the health of the U.S. economy

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obamacare grants doctors liberty to withhold care
The Obama administration has launch-ed a full-court press to sell the president’s “signature” achievement, Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, to the American public as well as to the 800,000 American physicians it directly impacts.
National Journal | 2013 Budget Strengthens Health While Cutting Deficit
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will defend President Obama’s budget proposal before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, and there are few surprises in her prepared testimony.
CATO | The Illiberality of ObamaCare
On Friday, President Obama tried to quell the uproar over his ongoing effort to force Catholics (and everyone else) to pay for contraceptives, sterilization, and pharmaceutical abortions.

CATO | Sebelius Admits ObamaCare Exchanges Aren’t Happening, Then Disqualifies Herself from Office
Politico Pro has published a short but remarkable article [$] stemming from an interview with HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It offers a couple of illuminating items, and one very glaring one.
Heritage Foundation | The “Doc Fix” Dilemma Calls for Immediate Medicare Reforms
Once again, Congress is scrambling to stop a scheduled 27 percent payment cut to physicians who serve Medicare patients.


Bloomberg | King Says BOE Stimulus Isn’t at Limit as Euro-Area Debt Crisis Poses Risk
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said policy makers can expand their stimulus program further if needed to ward off the threat to Britain’s “slow and uncertain recovery” posed by the euro region’s debt crisis.


CNN Money | Obama corporate tax reforms out in coming weeks
President Obama's plan to reform the corporate tax system will come out in the next few weeks, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told a Senate panel Tuesday.
WSJ | Geithner Says Business-Tax Plan to Target Breaks
The Treasury Department in the coming weeks will propose new corporate-tax rules that cut rates while eliminating many loopholes, measures meant to simplify the code while increasing the number of companies that contribute to government coffers.
NY Times | Tentative Deal Reached to Preserve Cut in Payroll Tax
Members of a House-Senate committee charged with writing a measure to extend a payroll tax reduction and provide added unemployment benefits reached a tentative agreement Tuesday evening
Politico | Payroll-tax cut, unemployment benefits: Tentative deal reached
Congressional leaders broke an impasse Tuesday that threatened the finances of millions of Americans and an institution that couldn’t drop much lower in public esteem with further damage.
National Journal | Geithner Says Tax Reform Plan Won't Be 'Comprehensive'
The Obama administration will issue only a framework for corporate tax reform within the next few weeks, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Picking Up Obama's Gauntlet on Taxes
Mr. Romney might give his candidacy some life with a straightforward promise: Tax reform will deliver prosperity, and I will deliver tax reform. His campaign would finally have a theme for its pudding.
The American | How Taxing the Rich Harms the Middle Class
President Obama’s budget speech on Monday expanded on the theme of economic “fairness,” like his State of the Union speech in January.
WSJ | Payroll Progress
The political class seems to have decided by acclamation that the GOP is "caving" or "backing down" on the payroll tax holiday, so permit a polite dissent.
Freedom Works | A win-win solution for the GOP on payroll taxes
There's an easy way for the GOP to reclaim the tax issue, amazingly stolen from them this past year by the Democrats with their clever payroll tax cut. It's called the SSPICE Act, and embracing it would do the politically beleaguered Republicans a world of good.

WSJ | Permanent Cut to Payroll Tax Unrealistic, Geithner Says
As Congress wrestles with how to extend a payroll-tax cut through 2012, one Democratic lawmaker raised an issue that is lurking below the surface of the debate: why not permanently reduce the tax?
The American | Obama budget would make U.S. corporate tax code even less competitive
As a new study by the Tax Foundation found, “Corporate income taxes have a highly significant and negative effect on long-term growth.” And an OECD study concluded thusly: “Corporate income taxes appear to have the most negative effect on GDP per capita.”


Marginal Revolution | Labor market fact of the day
Although Latinos make up only a seventh of the population, they have “racked up half the employment gains posted since the economy began adding jobs in early 2010″


WSJ | Late Snags Push Back Greek Deal
Greek bailout talks entered a new round of brinkmanship on Tuesday, as euro-zone finance ministers delayed a meeting to approve a new bailout and debt restructuring for Athens
NY Times | $5 Billion in Grants Offered to Revisit Teacher Policies
The Obama administration will propose a $5 billion competitive grant program to encourage states to overhaul the teaching profession

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Caller | Obama’s class-warfare, tax-the-rich budget
If you shake out the Obama budget in terms of bold headlines, it’s really a class-warfare, tax-the-rich budget.
Washington Times | How Obama will waste your money
President Obama clings to the fantasy that he can tax and spend the country out of malaise and into prosperity.
Bloomberg | Tax Increases, Debt Limit Loom Over Budget Debate
Most people understandably won’t make it to Table 6-2 of the Analytical Perspectives companion volume released with the Obama administration’s budget. This table, though, foreshadows the fight that will come at about this time next year -- and is thus one good way to view the budget as a whole.
Real Clear Markets | Rhode Island: Little State In a Big Mess
Back in December Time magazine published a story detailing Rhode Island's successful effort to reform its state pension system, one of the worst funded relative to its size in the nation.
Washington Times | Obama’s proposed budgetary house of cards
Two things you need to know about President Obama’s nearly $4 trillion budget for fiscal 2013: It will likely add another $1 trillion to a $15.3 trillion debt, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will not act on any full budget plan this year.
CATO | Obama's Busted Budget
In a town where bipartisan budget chicanery has been raised to an art form, President Obama's latest budget proposal should be hailed as the da Vinci of fiscal obfuscation.

The American | A load of economic nonsense from Geithner
Geithner said that higher taxes are a must. “I do not see how you get there if you are unable … to contemplate and to embrace modest increases in revenue through tax reform,” Geithner said. “I just don’t think it’s possible.”
Flowing Data | Slicing Obama’s 2013 budget proposal four ways
With Obama's recent budget for next year proposed, Shan Carter et. al of The New York Times let you explore the plan in their new interactive.
The American | U.S. sugar policy cost American consumers almost $4 billion last year
Using data from the USDA on U.S. and world sugar prices, domestic sugar consumption and production, and sugar imports I estimate that U.S. sugar policies cost American consumers and business almost $4 billion last year from higher sugar prices.