Tuesday, February 28, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | FHA to hike premiums on mortgages
In an effort to bolster its capital reserves, the Federal Housing Administration is planning to hike the insurance premiums it charges borrowers.
Market Watch | Orders for big-ticket items fall 4% in January
Orders for long-lasting U.S. goods fell a bigger-than-expected 4.0% in January, as demand for a broad array of products declined, the government reported Tuesday.
USA Today | 3 doomsaying experts who foresee economic devastation ahead
Behind the mainstream Wall Street happy talk about more stable financial markets and an improving economy are grim warnings of tough times ahead from a small cadre of doomsayers who warn that the worst of the financial crisis is still to come.
CNN Money | Water bills expected to triple in some parts of U.S.
Many consumers could see their water bills double or even triple, as the country attempts to overhaul its aging water system over the next 25 years.
NY Times | TransCanada Renewing Request to Build Keystone Pipeline
TransCanada said Monday that it would reapply for a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Canadian oil sands formations in Alberta to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, assuring that the fiercely contested project will remain a source of political heat throughout the presidential campaign.
CNN Money | Strategic oil reserve tap offers only a little relief
When gas prices are climbing, as they are now, there's an equivalent surge in talk of tapping the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve
Bloomberg | European Economic Confidence Beats Estimates
Economic confidence in the euro area improved more than forecast in February, adding to signs the economy is stabilizing after a fourth-quarter contraction.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Caller | Government cannot be run like a business
Despite his big-government record as a governor, Mitt Romney has run for president as a conservative who would allow the free market to work. To bolster his credibility, he points to his success as CEO of Bain Capital. Romney led that company to become one of the largest and most successful private equity investment firms in the nation.
Politico | JOBS Act just what Obama ordered
America has always offered immense opportunity because innovators have had the ability to take risks, work hard and be rewarded for it. Innovators, entrepreneurs and small-business people built the framework for American success, creating legacies lasting generations.

Café Hayek | Gifts Do Not Cause Wages to Rise
So here’s why – referring to my earlier post – success by the University of Virginia’s hunger-striking students to pressure that institution to arbitrarily raise the wages that it pays to its janitors would not put upward pressure on wage rates for non-UVA-employed janitors and other low-wage workers: any such increase in wages would do nothing to increase the demand for janitors and other low-skilled workers
Heritage Foundation | Subsidies and Costs in the Solar Industry
According to Germany’s environment minister, Norbert Roettgen, “Solar is a success story made in Germany.” “Success” appears to mean having the world’s largest amount of ridiculously overpriced electricity. (The German subsidy for solar energy is up to five times the actual wholesale cost in the U.S.)

Health Care

National Journal | Sebelius on Benefits: State Offerings Don't Vary Much
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleeen Sebelius defended her decision to let states decide what essential health benefits to offer as part of health insurance plans on Tuesday, saying that the plans varied little.

Heritage Foundation | Obamacare’s Top 5 Broken Promises
Talking about his health care law, President Obama has said, “If you misrepresent what’s in this plan, we will call you out.” In keeping with that spirit, below is a list of Obamacare’s top five biggest broken promises


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Fixing the Federal Reserve
There is a growing consensus that the Federal Reserve is broken - because it is. The Fed was established to provide price stability and prevent periodic banking crises. It has accomplished neither.
Forbes | How to Stop the Spike In the Price of Gasoline
Once again we are faced with the pain of higher oil and gasoline prices, and the spectacle of politicians and pundits blaming all the usual suspects: trouble in the Middle East, greedy oil companies, OPEC, China, gas guzzling cars, and America’s penchant to consume too much energy.

Economist | Crunch time at the Fed
On Friday, Brad DeLong blogged a slide from a Christina and David Romer lecture on practical monetary policy at the zero lower bound.


Politico | Corporate tax next battle for White House
President Barack Obama’s top financial wizards face an uphill climb on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks when they pitch the administration’s vision for revamping the corporate Tax Code — particularly on a provision that would tax all foreign earnings.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Rick Scott’s zero-percent tax
Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined fellow state executives for dinner at the White House Sunday night. Before the rib-eye steak or Maryland crab mac & cheese hit the plates, the first-term Republican served President Obama with a letter about corporate taxes.

Heritage Foundation | New Poll Shows Most Voters Want Lower Taxes, Even on the Rich
To hear liberals tell the tale, you might think that most Americans want to tax the pants off  businesses and wealthy Americans, making them pay their “fair share,” as President Obama would have you believe. But according to a new poll, that simply isn’t the case. In fact, the vast majority of likely voters want individuals and businesses to pay lower rates.


Market Watch | U.S. job quality is in trouble
Millions of voters are grappling with unemployment, underemployment and deteriorating jobs.

Daily Capitalist | Employment: The Three-Eighths Solution
Professor Bob Higgs at the Independent Institute makes an interesting observation about employment: despite all the good news we are only three-eighths recovered from the pre-Crash high watermark. He cautions on how the data can be misleading.


National Journal | Hoyer Calls for 'Bold' Action on Deficit but Offers No Details
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Monday called for lawmakers to come together behind a “big, bold, balanced solution” to the country’s fiscal problems but failed to offer any specific ideas on how to get there.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Krugman Says Greece Running Out of Alternatives to Quitting Euro Currrency
Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman said Greece is “close” to having to leave the 17- member currency region as austerity measures imposed on the nation hamper its economic recovery.

The American | Larry Summers spills the beans on the real reason why Obama rejected Bowles-Simpson
President Obama created a debt commission—and then rejected its recommendations. As I just wrote in a previous post, the rejection was complete and overwhelming.
Daily Capitalist | S&P: Greece Now Rated “SD” Selective Default
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that it has lowered its ‘CC’ long-term and ‘C’ short-term sovereign credit ratings on the Hellenic Republic (Greece) to ‘SD’ (selective default).
WSJ | Consumer Debt Falls on Less Mortgage Borrowing
Total consumer debt levels fell 1.1% to $11.53 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to the prior quarter, largely due to developments in the housing market, a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Monday.