Tuesday, March 20, 2012

General Economics

Market Watch | Builder sentiment stays at nearly 5-year high
A measure of sentiment for builders of new single-family homes in March stayed at the highest level in close to five years after a downward revision to the preceding month, according to data released Monday.
Bloomberg | Housing Starts in U.S. Fell in February from Three-Year High
Housing starts in the U.S. fell in February from a three-year high, showing the recovery in the residential real estate market will take time to develop.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Fund but verify Export-Import Bank
Ordinarily, a question of whether to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) and increase its loan limit would be about as uncontroversial a proposition as one could find on Capitol Hill.
Market Watch | Oil could spark next crisis: IMF's Lagarde
High oil prices, caused either by supply concerns or geopolitical tensions, could be the next threat to global growth, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday.
CATO | What to Do about Inequality? Free Market Education
David Grusky assumes that income inequality is necessarily a bad thing, and lays it at the feet of “market failure.” I’ll not address the overall contention because it is not my area of expertise, but in education, while Grusky is correct in perceiving many problems, they cannot be ascribed to markets. They are government failures.

Heritage Foundation | Tales of the Red Tape #29: Drowning in New Regulations
Some 120 regulations taking effect in the past year require enhanced accommodations for disabled individuals at 65 different types of public and private facilities- all of which will cost more than $1 billion annually for each of the next 15 years, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ)
CATO | Should the Small Business Administration Be Abolished?
That’s the question being debated at the Wall Street Journal’s website. Representing the pro-abolition position is Cato adjunct scholar Veronique de Rugy.
Reason Foundation | Securities Regulation Continues to Frustrate
Ask any trader their opinion about regulators at the SEC or CFTC and they’ll respond with variants of one of the following two responses
National Review | Abolish the SBA
Today, in the pages of the Wall Street Journal I debate Barbara Kasoff, the president and chief executive of Women Impacting Public Policy, about whether or not we should abolish the Small Business Administration. I say, yes, abolish SBA; she disagrees.
WSJ | Secondary Sources: Food Stamps, Generation Gap, Gas Prices
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.
Library of Economics | The Speculator of Last Resort
If you can buy bonds in a crisis and sell them later at a profit, then you might argue that you were acting as a speculator of last resort during a liquidity crisis. However, I think of a liquidity crisis as something temporary

Health Care

Politico | Health-care reform: What to watch for
The law turns two years old on Friday, and its third year will see other milestones that will determine how it works — if it survives. States have to do their part to implement it, and some will do little or nothing.
National Journal | A Crash Course in Health Care Reform
Washington is getting a crash course in health care reform this week, with both supporters and opponents pulling out the stops to make their cases ahead of Friday's second anniversary of the day President Obama signed the law.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | ObamaCare's Flawed Economic Foundations
ObamaCare will be argued next week in the Supreme Court. While the justices will consider the intricacies of constitutional law, at their heart the arguments in favor of the legislation have to do with the economics of health care.
CATO | Obamacare Premise Is Just Wrong
Next week, the Supreme Court takes up the Obamacare litigation, the heart of which is the issue of whether the federal government can constitutionally force people to buy health insurance.

Heritage Foundation | Medical Malpractice Reform: States vs. the Federal Government
Medical malpractice reform is needed in many different states, but an effort currently underway on this issue in Congress is misguided.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | The Rising Price Of the Falling Dollar
Yet, the basic reason for higher energy prices is being overlooked, even though it is right before our eyes: Oil prices are up because the value of the dollar is down.

Economist | Show us that you mean it
Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee reiterated its view that exceptionally low interest rates were likely to be warranted in America through at least late 2014. As the Fed maintains this language while the economy strengthens, several things occur.


CNN Money | The health care tax credit few are taking
The health care tax credit is supposed to help small companies, but it's so confusing that many owners are forgoing the extra cash.
Politico | Democrats file bill to repeal oil tax incentives
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced a bill Monday eliminating incentives for the big companies and using revenue to help renewable energy sources — a senior Senate GOP aide told POLITICO. A Menendez spokeswoman confirmed he is the lead sponsor, but said more details would not be available until Tuesday.
Politico | Apple cash staying overseas because of taxes, company says
Apple is planning to spend an estimated $45 billion of its cash reserves in the next three years, as part of a program the company announced Monday that includes the first dividend for shareholders since 1995.
CNN Money | Just the facts about taxes
Many people pay no federal income taxes. But the vast majority do owe payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, which in turn are two of the biggest items in the federal budget.

The American | Boehner’s $800 billion ‘tax hike’ was anything but
Back in July, House Speaker John Boehner thought he had reached a big budget deal with President Obama: $1.2 trillion in agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, $250 billion in Medicare savings partly achieved by raising the eligibility age. Oh, and $800 billion in new taxes.


FOX Business | Goldman Initiates New Round of Layoffs
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS: 124.84, +0.54, +0.43%) has begun a new round of staff cuts in its trading and investment banking divisions, three sources familiar with the matter said, a sign of a continued penny-pinching on Wall Street.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | The Employee Rights Act Empowers Workers
Unions want more dues-paying members—whether they improve working conditions or not. Unions also want contracts that protect their institutional powers. These objectives often conflict with the desires of workers.


CNN Money | House GOP budget chief aims at tax code
In a year when political stalemate is expected to block any real progress on fiscal reforms, House Republicans will take a swing at tax reform in their fiscal year 2013 budget proposal due out on Tuesday morning.
Bloomberg | Greece’s Third Bailout Seen in Debt With Junk Grade: Euro Credit
Greece’s bonds and credit ratings are factoring in a third bailout for the nation that analysts and investors say will require greater concessions from its international creditors.
Politico | House GOP set to move on debt package
Trying to get their mojo back, House Republicans hope to move quickly this spring with a $261 billion deficit-reduction package to forestall automatic spending cuts next January that would fall heavily on defense.
CNN Money | Taxpayers make $25 billion on mortgage sale
Treasury just scored a big win -- it got rid of one of its financial-crisis era portfolios of mortgage-backed securities and made a $25 billion profit, the department announced Monday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The GOP Budget and America's Future
And so Tuesday, House Republicans are introducing a new Path to Prosperity budget that builds on what we've achieved.
CRS | Fact Sheet: The FY2013 State and Foreign Operations Budget Request
On February 13, 2012, the Obama Administration submitted its FY2013 budget request, including $54.7 billion for State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Appropriations.

Keith Hennessey | President Obama’s proposed medium-term deficits
The business of Washington, DC is changing policy.  Almost everyone in Washington is trying either to change some element of policy or to prevent someone else’s changes.