Wednesday, February 22, 2012

General Economics

Market Watch | Sales of existing homes up 4.3% in January
Sales of U.S. existing homes rose 4.3% in January and inventories fell to nearly seven-year lows, as lower prices, unusually warm weather and an improving economy all lifted demand.
Politico | Transportation bills to get tune-up during recess
It may be recess, but House and Senate leaders are working overtime this week to make the massive transportation bills more attractive to skeptical lawmakers.
CNN Money | Economy in recovery? Not so fast
Employers are hiring, manufacturing is revving up and stocks are rallying. It looks like the recovery could finally be taking hold.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area Manufacturing, Services Unexpectedly Contract Amid Budget Cuts
European services and manufacturing output unexpectedly shrank in February as the euro-area economy struggles to rebound from a contraction in the fourth quarter.
Market Watch | U.S. economy is getting stronger, but . . .
Main Street and Wall Street have been buoyed by data that shows the U.S. economy is getting stronger, but nobody’s declaring happy days.
CNN Money | Consumer bureau targets overdraft fees
The new consumer bureau said Wednesday that it plans to target a kind of bank fee that makes customers see red: Overdraft protection penalty fees on checking accounts.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | The "Robo-Signing" Settlement: Seeds of Recovery, Or Chaos?
After over a year of wrangling, last week the Obama Administration and 49 state attorneys general announced that they had reached a comprehensive settlement with five large mortgage servicers over claims related to their infamous “robo-signing” foreclosure practices.
Investors | If Economy's Improving, Why Is Dependency Growing?
The government is at full throttle to present the economy as improving especially in light of the upcoming election. At the same time, there has been a stunning rise in dependency as most recently presented by the Heritage Foundation.
Market Watch | Is the European crisis over or just beginning?
The stock market is never wrong and prices are the ultimate arbiter of variant financial views.
New Republic | The Memo that Larry Summers Didn’t Want Obama to See
For the past three years, Washington journalists and politicos have obsessed over a 57-page memo that Barack Obama’s incoming economic team prepared for him in late 2008.
Economist | Over-regulated America
The problem is not the rules that are self-evidently absurd. It is the ones that sound reasonable on their own but impose a huge burden collectively. America is meant to be the home of laissez-faire.

Daily Capitalist | The Great Repression
Financial markets don’t really do the long term anymore, but if they did, they might spend less time drooling at the prospect of more monetary crack, and more time wondering who will be funding all the government debt that now towers above everyone further than the eye can see.
Daily Capitalist | OECD GDP Down “Sharply” Q4 2011
Provisional estimates show that quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the OECD area decelerated sharply to 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2011, against 0.6% in the third quarter.

Health Care

National Journal | Doctors Slow To Adopt Electronic Health Records
A new study from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions shows that while doctors are optimistic that they will be able to adopt new information technology systems, they still have a ways to go before the technology becomes mainstream.
National Journal | Paying Up Front for Emergency Care
Next time you go to an emergency room, be prepared for this: If your problem isn't urgent, you may have to pay up front.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CRS | Federalism Challenge to Medicaid Expansion Under the Affordable Care Act: Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services
In March 2010, the 111th Congress passed P.L. 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by P.L. 111-152, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Jointly referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the ACA, among other things, expands Medicaid eligibility.

Heritage Foundation | Despotism, Thy Name Is Obamacare
Two years ago, everything about Obamacare was in the future. Recall the revealing comment at the time by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) that Congress had to pass the legislation to see what was in it. Now that the disputed law is in its implementation stage, Americans are beginning to see what is in it and what it means for them. Welcome to the future.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Why We Can't Believe the Fed
The Federal Reserve's interest rate-setting Open Market Committee recently broke new ground in Chairman Ben Bernanke's transparency campaign by proffering predictions of its own behavior over the next three years.

WSJ | ‘Why This Time Could Be Different’ With High Gasoline Prices
Soaring oil prices in the spring of 2008 sent gasoline prices surging and accelerated the recession. Now, rising gas prices are threatening the recovery. But lower natural gas and utility costs this time around might limit some of the damage, says Deutsche Bank chief U.S. economist Joseph LaVorgna.
WSJ | Boston Fed Sought Lower Discount Rate, While Kansas City Fed Wanted Increase
Federal Reserve officials expected “only moderate growth” in the coming quarters, despite improvement in some recent economic data, according to minutes of discount-rate meetings held last month and released Tuesday.
Minyanville | The Long-Term Fundamental Case for Gold
A quick glance at most of the headlines over the weekend and one notices that the primary focus seemed to be either calling a near-term top in domestic equity indices or concentrating on the Greek debt situation. Why is anyone even paying attention to what is going on over there?


Bloomberg | Obama Readies Plan to Cut Corporate Tax Rate
The Obama administration will propose today reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent along with removing tax breaks for companies to help offset lost revenue, an administration official said.
CNN Money | More Americans plan to save, not spend, their tax refund
Americans are going to be a lot more tightfisted with their tax refunds this year, with more people planning to save the cash they get back from Uncle Sam instead of spending it.
NY Times | Obama Offers to Cut Corporate Tax Rate to 28%
President Obama will ask Congress to scrub the corporate tax code of dozens of loopholes and subsidies to reduce the top rate to 28 percent, down from 35 percent, while giving preferences to manufacturers that would set their maximum effective rate at 25 percent, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Obama's Dividend Assault
President Obama's 2013 budget is the gift that keeps on giving—to government. One buried surprise is his proposal to triple the tax rate on corporate dividends, which believe it or not is higher than in his previous budgets.
Washington Times | Defusing Obama tax bomb
An election-minded Congress defused the Social Security payroll-tax cut issue last week, but a much more politically lethal time bomb is set to go off at the end of the year.
Washington Times | Cantor’s small-business drive
Small business has taken a beating in this brutal economy. Combine the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate with the constant stream of new regulation flowing from the Obama administration, and it’s no wonder the economy is stalled.

The American | Why Obama’s corporate tax plan is a total bust
The current U.S. economic recovery is arguably the worst in modern American history. Incomes are flat, housing is moribund, and the past three years have seen the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. 


NY Times | Tax-Cut Bill Includes Updates to Jobless Benefits System
Tucked into a $140 billion bill extending emergency jobless benefits and a temporary cut to payroll taxes are several provisions intended to modernize the country’s outdated unemployment insurance system.
Bloomberg | Construction Jobs Rebound as U.S. Homeowners Increase Remodeling Projects
Construction hiring is picking up as Americans invest in renovating their homes amid signs that the worst of the housing-market declines may be over.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | Adjusting to Really Big Changes: The Labor Market in China, 1989-2009
China’s emerging labor market was buffeted by changes in demand and supply and institutional changes in the last two decades. Using the Chinese Urban Household Survey data from 1989 to 2009, our study shows that the market responded with substantial changes in the structure of wages and in employment and types of jobs that workers obtained that mirrors the adjustments found in labor markets in advanced economies.


Fortune | 5 budget assumptions that won't happen
From Medicare savings to tax revenues, the latest budget from President Obama includes scenarios that almost certainly will never play out.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Cutting Through the Spin: What Obama's Budget Reveals
The federal budget is a dense document totaling hundreds of pages of numbers. Yet, for all of the digital precision, the use of various “base line” budgets, numbers that span 11-year time frames and other arcana known only to Washington insiders and budget mavens obscure more than they reveal about what the federal government is up to.
WSJ | A Better Grecian Bailout
With Tuesday's vote, the finance ministers of the European Union have agreed to a second giant Greek bailout, just two years after the May 2010 bailout that was supposed to be all that was needed.
CATO | We're Already Europe
With seemingly every day bringing more bad news from Europe, many are beginning to ask how much longer the United States has before our welfare state follows the European model into bankruptcy. The bad news is: It may already have.

National Review | Another Greek Bailout but Still Little Chance of Recovery
An agreement was reached on a $170 billion Greek bailout last night. The deal — the second one — is meant to buy some time for Greece to fix its financial crisis and hopefully signals to the world that a Greek default — and its possibly disastrous consequences — will be forestalled, at least for now.