Wednesday, March 14, 2012

General Economics

Market Watch | Current account deficit widens in fourth quarter
The U.S. current account deficit, which is the combined balances on trade in goods and services, income, and donations, widened to $124.1 billion in the fourth quarter, or 3.2% of gross domestic product, from a downwardly revised $107.6 billion in the third quarter.
Bloomberg | Jobs Recovery Revives U.S. Furniture Sales as Home Market Heals
More Americans are stretching out on new sofas as they settle into recently purchased homes, amid an improving outlook for employment.
Market Watch | Investment opportunities as housing improves
The housing market the U.S. is showing some signs of recovery and if the trend continues, investors will be looking for opportunities.
CNN Money | Sabine Pass natural gas plant, the next 'Keystone'
At the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas-Louisiana border, Cheniere Energy could be just weeks away from breaking ground on the first natural gas exporting facility ever built in the lower 48 states.
WSJ | Despite U.S. Pressure, China Stands Firm on Trade
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao suggested that China sees little room to accommodate Washington's trade demands, despite coming under additional pressure as U.S. election-year rhetoric heats up.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | GAO: DOE needs consolidated loan guarantee tracking system
The Energy Department needs to establish a one-stop shop for tracking its loan guarantee applications and awardees, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Monday.
WSJ | The Bill for ObamaLoans
Speaking of March Madness, the annual college basketball tourney has nothing on college financing. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has the disturbing details for taxpayers.
Investors | California: The Sick Man Of America
"You can check out any time you like," the Eagles said of California, "but you can never leave." Somebody forgot to tell businesses. They keep leaving the Golden State in growing numbers.
NBER | International Capital Flows and House Prices: Theory and Evidence
The last fifteen years have been marked by a dramatic boom-bust cycle in real estate prices, accompanied by economically large fluctuations in international capital flows.

Heritage Foundation | Red Tape Ties Up Industrial Base
Goure argues that, in its effort to promote competition, the Pentagon has actually convoluted its system and potentially weakened the defense industrial base. Frequent changes to regulations make it difficult for companies to take advantage of economies of scale, as they must continually adapt to new requirements.
CATO | Trade Policy Lessons in WTO Challenge of China’s Rare Earth Restrictions
This morning the Obama administration lodged an official complaint with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body over China’s ongoing restrictions of exports of “Rare Earth” minerals.
Library of Economics | Property Rights ARE Human Rights
One of the left's most effective canards has been its alleged distinction between property rights and human rights. The fact is that property rights are human rights. My right to my computer--my property--is not my computer's right to itself. It's my right, and I'm human.
CATO | CBO Perpetuates Small Business Administration Myth
A new brief from the Congressional Budget Office discusses the role of small businesses in the economy and how they’re affected by federal policy. The CBO cites the Small Business Administration as one example of how federal policy favors small businesses over larger businesses
Marginal Revolution | What is up with the gdp-less recovery?
Robert Gordon, a Northwestern University professor who tracks productivity closely, says he sees “clear signs everywhere” that a productivity slowdown is happening. Last year, productivity—measured as the output of workers for every hour they work—grew just 0.4% and has grown at a 0.9% annual rate over the past seven quarters.

Health Care

CNN Money | Health reform coverage cost falls slightly
The cost and promised savings of health reform tied lawmakers in knots two years ago. The issues are no less complicated or uncertain today.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | ObamaCare's Bogus Cost Savings
As we approach the second anniversary of ObamaCare, it's worth re-examining some of the claims its proponents made about the impact of the law on health-care costs. Three of the law's most-touted cost-control measures have already been shown to be unlikely to succeed.

Atlantic | Why We Should Worry About Massively Extending Medicaid
Michael Kinsley once famously described a gaffe as when a "politician tells the truth." In the think-tank world, a gaffe could be described as when a scholar tells the truth, in ways that the think-tank's friends and allies won't like.
The American | Obama healthcare reform raising costs, forcing workers out of existing plans
The Willis Report of Employers is out and it has some major implications for Obamacare


Bloomberg | Stress Tests Show How Fed Pushed on Balance Sheets
The resilience of the largest U.S. financial firms when tested against a recession more severe than the last one shows regulators have succeeded in pushing banks to build fortress-like balance sheets.
Bloomberg | Bernanke Keeps Easing Option While Signaling Economy Improving
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is keeping additional easing on the policy-making table even after upgrading his view on the U.S. expansion.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Arse Backwards: The Federal Reserve's Approach to the Housing Market
In reaffirming its near 0% interest rate policy for another three years the Federal Reserve averred that this was ­necessary to revive the housing market, which, in turn, was necessary for the economy to revive.
Atlantic | The $110 Effect: What Higher Gas Prices Could Really Do to the Economy
Rising oil and gasoline prices are once again threatening the U.S. economic recovery. It is no surprise that the root cause is geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East - this time related to Iran's nuclear ambitions and potential disruptions in oil supply

Minyanville | Taylor Rule Suggests Target Federal Funds Rate Should Be Higher
If I have not made it clear by now, I am not a big fan of price-fixing in any form, especially from a body such as the Federal Open Market Committee involved in pretending monetary policy has deterministic outcomes.
Seeking Alpha | The Limits Of Monetary Policy In A Liquidity Trap
One question advocates of expansionary fiscal policy in situations like the global economy's current configuration must face is Mankiw and Weinzerl's [1] question: why not just use monetary policy instead?
WSJ | Parsing the Fed: How the Statement Changed
The Fed’s statement following the March meeting was largely unchanged from January. Officials kept policy steady, noted improvements in labor markets and said inflation pressures are expected to be temporary


CNN Money | Tax breaks for the unemployed
For unemployed Americans who have watched their savings diminish as they look for work, tax season may finally bring some relief.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Caller | What policymakers can learn from Canada’s corporate tax cuts
President Obama and most members of Congress agree that the U.S. corporate tax rate should be cut. Thankfully, it is finally sinking in that having a 40 percent corporate tax rate when the world average is just 23 percent is suicide in a globalized economy.
WSJ | Big Oil, Bigger Taxes
President Obama says he wants to end subsidies for what he calls "the fuel of the past," but lucky for him oil and gas will be the fuels of the future too. His budget-deficit blowout would be so much worse without Big Oil, because the truth is that this industry is subsidizing the government.

Tax Foundation | Indiana Legislature Approves Plan to Eliminate Inheritance Tax
The Indiana legislature has approved a bill that would eliminate the state's inheritance tax. If Gov. Daniels signs the bill (SB 293), the tax will be gradually phased-down and finally eliminated in 2021.
Atlantic | IRS to Mom and Pop: Drop Dead
Doing your taxes sucks. Paying someone else to do your taxes sucks, too. But you know what sucks most of all? Having the person who does your taxes go out of business (or dramatically raise prices) thanks to an IRS power grab.
The American | Are falling tax revenues confirming a growth slowdown?
The big banks lately have been cutting their 1Q GDP forecasts to under 2%, the wisdom of which is seemingly being confirmed by the slowdown in tax revenue flowing to Washington


WSJ | Jobless Rates Decline in Key States
Joblessness remains high but has fallen in a handful of states expected to be closely contested in November, a turnaround from a year ago that has shifted the political debate in the presidential election.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | State, local governments apt to lose more jobs
Layoffs by state and local governments are poised to take off again, threatening the picture of growth that President Barack Obama has been touting in the past few months of monthly jobs reports.
Washington Times | Reid stalls, unemployed wait
Sen. Harry Reid puts politics before jobs for 13 million out-of-work Americans. Look no further than his decision this week to put off a vote that would help small businesses grow and create jobs.

Library of Economics | New Commanding Heights Watch
I think that the evidence for structural change as a factor in this recession is there for those who are willing to see it.
Calculated Risk | BLS: Job Openings unchanged in January
The number of job openings in January was 3.5 million, unchanged from December.
WSJ | Jobless Rates Fall in Most States
Unemployment rates dropped in 45 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. in January from a month earlier, the Labor Department reported.


WSJ | Eurogroup Approves Second Greek Bailout
The euro-zone countries Wednesday finally signed-off on Greece's second bailout program, ending a protracted and dramatic negotiating process that started last July.
National Journal | CBO Projects $1.2 Trillion Deficit in 2012, as Payroll Deal Deepens Fiscal Gap
At $1.2 trillion, the federal deficit will be $93 billion larger than previously expected in fiscal year 2012, due almost entirely to the cost of a payroll tax cut , the Congressional Budget Office projected Tuesday in its March baseline update.
WSJ | Tougher Budget Policing Hits Hungary, Spain
European finance ministers agreed to suspend European Union funds destined for Hungary because of its failure to hit budget targets while, under pressure from other euro-zone governments, Spain agreed to deeper budget cuts than it had planned for this year.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | Updated Budget Projections: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022
In conjunction with its analysis of the President’s budget, which will be issued in a few days, CBO has updated the baseline budget projections that it released in January.
Real Clear Markets | Are Pensions Busting Local Government Budgets?
As Stockton, California inches toward the largest municipal bankruptcy since the Great Depression, many accusing fingers are pointing at public employee pensions.
Bloomberg | Stimulus Helped Grow Debt, Not Economy
Last week’s release of the February employment report set off the predictable partisan squabbling, with Democrats emphasizing the positive (227,000 new jobs) and Republicans the negative (the still-shrunken labor force and still-high unemployment rate).