Friday, March 16, 2012

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
NY Times | Geithner Says U.S. Economy Showing Signs of Expansion
The nation’s economy shows signs of expansion but still faces tough challenges that call for measures to create jobs to help restore fiscal sustainability, the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, said on Thursday.
CNN Money | Is the bond bubble finally bursting?
Despite this year's solid move in stocks, investors had mostly been staying in Treasuries, considered one of the safest bets during times of economic uncertainty. Until this week, that is.
Market Watch | U.S. industrial output flat in February
The output of the nation's factories, mines and utilities was flat in February, the Federal Reserve said Friday. This was well below Wall Street expectations of a 0.4% gain.
Politico | Oil, gas data fuel new arguments
The latest federal data on oil and gas production offer ammunition to both the White House and its critics on whether the Obama administration is out to squelch American-bred energy.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Regulation and Obama’s numbers game
Statistics, they say, is the art of torturing numbers until they confess. If so, they must have a rack built somewhere in the White House.
WSJ | Greece Is Making Historic Reforms
The Greek government, the leaders of the EU, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed on a landmark economic adjustment program geared toward strengthening Greece's institutional capacity, improving competitiveness, and creating sustainable growth.
Washington Times | Rosy headlines obscure some troubling trends
The data flow picked up this past week, but much like what we saw with the Bureau of Labor Statistics take on February employment, the headline was far rosier than what was found upon sifting through the data in greater detail.
WSJ | What's Behind Rising Gas Prices?
As in the 2008 presidential election—remember the chants of "Drill, baby, drill!"—rising oil and gasoline prices have become an issue in 2012.
Freeman Online | The Parable of the Broken Traffic Lights
When the central bank intervenes, however, it turns all the lights green.  Expansionary monetary policy provides loanable funds to banks, which enables them to lower rates as if there were more saving.  However, that saving is an illusion
Washington Times | More stimulus?
Add Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz to the list of those who somehow think the economy just hasn’t had enough stimulus from Washington.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Economist | The worst of all worlds
America’s economy is a mosaic of puzzles and contradictions that has economists and bloggers scrambling for explanations and scrutinizing the data for quirks and flaws. Lately, I’ve been thinking dark thoughts: what if all it takes is a single explanation that assumes all the data are correct?
Calculated Risk | CoreLogic: 69,000 completed foreclosures in January 2012
CoreLogic® Reports More Than 860,000 Completed Foreclosures Nationally in the Last Twelve Months
Big Picture | Why ECRI’s Recession Call Stands
Many have questioned why, in the face of improving economic data, ECRI has maintained its recession call. The straight answer is that the objective economic indicators we monitor, including those we make public, give us no other choice.

Health Care

News                                                                                                                             
National Journal | CBO Revises Insurance Forecast
Health care reform could mean that between 3 million and 5 million people will lose their employer-provided health insurance starting in 2014, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation predicted on Thursday.
National Journal | MedPAC: Medicare Docs and Hospitals Shouldn't Get Big Pay Bump
Medicare doctors and hospitals shouldn’t get any big pay increases next year despite the bad economy, an independent board of Medicare-financing experts told Congress on Thursday. And they should get paid the same for doing the same tasks.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | CBO and JCT's Estimates of the Effects of the Affordable Care Act on the Number of People Obtaining Employment-Based Health Insurance
CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) continue to expect that the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—the health care legislation enacted in March 2010—will lead to a small reduction in the number of people receiving employment-based health insurance.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Neighborhood Effects | Federal Medicaid Proposal Could Help State Budgets
Representative Todd Rokita (R-IA) has proposed a new bill, the State Health Flexibility Act that could vastly improve incentives in state Medicaid administration. The bill would convert Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into a block grant program under which states would have the freedom to shape the program as they see fit.
The American | CBO: Obamacare could cost $2.1 trillion through 2022
According to a new government report, it turns out that more people than first expected will end up getting healthcare through the subsidized insurance exchanges and Medicaid rather than through their employers

Monetary

News                                                                                                                             
USA Today | Gas price is $4 or more for almost one-third of drivers
Nearly one-third of the nation's drivers now fork out $4 or more for a gallon of gasoline.
National Journal | Despite Rising at 10-Month High, February Inflation Unlikely to Affect Fed
Despite rising at its highest rate in 10 months, the February rise in inflation is unlikely to affect the Federal Reserve's outlook. 
Bloomberg | Dollar Weakens as Inflation Data Back Fed Stance
The dollar weakened against most of its major peers after U.S. inflation data fueled speculation Federal Reserve policy makers will maintain economic stimulus.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Fed's Lacker sees rates rising before late 2014
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker said in a statement early Friday that he believes the Fed will need to raise its fed funds target rate earlier than late 2014.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Daily Capitalist | Caution: Falling Currencies
In 1913, the US Congress authorized the creation of the Federal Reserve. Its mandate was limited, but it grew over time to become the central planner of all things monetary.

Taxes

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The U.S. Is Number One
April 1 is a date that every politician and business executive in America should circle on the calendar. That's when Japan cuts its corporate tax rate to 36.8% from 39.5%

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Data Suggest Job-Market Gains Leveling Off
The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week, but declines in a broader measure of such claims have slowed, suggesting recent improvements in the job market may be losing steam.
Washington Times | Fewer seek unemployment aid, matching 4-year low
Fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week, adding to signs that the job market is strengthening.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Political Calculations | The Natural Rate of Unemployment in the U.S.
Today though, the news media is filled with reports that the jobs market has finally turned positive, so our question then has more to do with finding out what its potential for improvement might be.

Budget

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Spanish Debt Load Hits New High
Spain's central bank said Friday that government debt rose to 68.5% of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter, the highest since at least 1990, as the country's budget deficit surpassed expectations.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Rearview Stress Tests
So the Federal Reserve and Treasury have stress-tested America's 19 biggest banks and deemed that only the relatively small Ally Financial is short of capital. Hallelujah, brother.
Politico | Time for a cut, cap & balance budget
The most important policy imperative in the world today is for the United States to balance its budget. Though the reasons we must do so are economic, the reasons we should are fundamentally moral.