Wednesday, March 28, 2012

General Economics

WSJ | New Rules Limit Coal Plants
The Obama administration on Tuesday announced long-awaited rules to limit carbon-dioxide emissions from new power plants that will effectively block the construction of new coal-burning plants and make natural gas even more attractive as a fuel for generating electricity.
CNN Money | Home prices fall to 2002 levels
The housing market started the new year with a thud. Home prices dropped for the fifth consecutive month in January, reaching their lowest point since the end of 2002.
Bloomberg | Europeans See Crisis Near End, Bernanke Warns on Recovery
European leaders signaled rising confidence that their region’s crisis is near an end, while Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned that a U.S. recovery isn’t assured.
CNN Money | Small biz bill goes to Obama after House OK
The House on Tuesday passed a bill making it easier for more companies to become publicly traded by bypassing audits and disclosures now required for investors.
National Journal | Analysts Fear Impact of Volcker Rule on Oil and Gas Development, Prices
The Volcker rule, a financial regulation set to be implemented as part the 2010 Wall Street reform law, could have the inadvertent effects of reducing U.S. oil and gas production, raising electricity rates and gasoline prices, and contributing to a future of volatile energy price spikes

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Investors | Success In America A Matter Of Hard Work, Not Luck
The fact is that, except for those very few whose wealth is overwhelmingly or entirely inherited, the more affluent have usually worked harder than the less affluent.
Politico | Streamline the federal government
We are living and competing in a 21st-century economy, while struggling with a 20th-century bureaucracy. Over many years and several administrations, the federal government has added new programs, offices and agencies. Rarely have we seen departments or agencies downsized, much less eliminated.
NBER | Does Shareholder Proxy Access Improve Firm Value? Evidence from the Business Roundtable Challenge
We use the Business Roundtable’s challenge to the SEC’s 2010 proxy access rule as a natural experiment to measure the value of shareholder proxy access.

Think Markets | Too Big to Fail – Again
The issue of banks viewed as too big to fail has been taken up several times on this site. In its Annual Report, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has weighed in on the topic
WSJ | Bernanke Tells ABC Economic Recovery Has ‘Long Way To Go’
“It’s far too early to declare victory,” Bernanke said in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, according to a transcript of the interview to be aired Tuesday night on “World News.”
CATO | Obama’s Energy Repackaging: Not the Problem but Not the Solution Either
A too little-noted aspect of Obama rhetoric is the incessant repetition of outlandish claims. Energy is a major example. He repeats so often that reiteration of the defects is desirable.

Health Care

NY Times | In Massachusetts, Insurance Mandate Stirs Some Dissent
Wayde Lodor is part of the 2 percent: the roughly 120,000 residents of Massachusetts who lack health insurance despite the state’s landmark 2006 law requiring almost every adult in the state to have it. He is likely to face a penalty this year, having made enough money under the state’s guidelines to afford a health plan.
Politico | 5 takeaways on health law arguments
This much is clear after Tuesday’s Supreme Court arguments: The centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law stands in real danger of being struck down.
National Journal | The Health Care Argument That Could Make Brand-New Law
Don’t be distracted by the individual mandate: The part of the health care case with the most potential to shape constitutional law will come up on Wednesday afternoon after much of the mandate hoopla has faded.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obamacare: Costs double in two years
Two years ago, President Obama signed into law his massive 2,700-page takeover of our health care system. Those thousands of pages are full of mandates controlling exactly how patients, doctors and employers must handle health care decisions.
WSJ | A Constitutional Awakening
Tuesday's two hours of Supreme Court oral arguments on ObamaCare's individual mandate were rough-going for the government and its assertions of unlimited federal power. Several Justices are clearly taking seriously the Constitution's structural checks and balances that are intended to protect individual liberty.
Washington Times | Obamacare not an enumerated power
As the unaffordable costs of Obamacare become undeniable and government control over every aspect of American life becomes unbearable, it’s hard to find anyone willing to celebrate the law as it enters the terrible twos. Even President Obama is passing on the opportunity to use his soaring rhetoric to extoll the virtues of the law.
Washington Times | Obamacare carries too high a price in liberty
In October 2009, a reporter asked then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “Where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?” She responded, “Are you serious?”
CATO | Obamacare's Second Day at the Court Features Brilliant Advocacy, Cautious Optimism
Tuesday’s Supreme Court oral arguments, which focused on the individual health insurance mandate, began with pomp and ended with circumstantial evidence that the individual mandate is in constitutional jeopardy.

Tax Foundation | Thoughts on the Health Care Case Thus Far
I've just read through the transcript of the first two days of oral argument in the health care case. Below are my impressions of each justice's questions, followed by all references to the tax power argument so far.
The American | Scalia quickly punctures the entire premise of Obamacare
Whatever the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate, today’s Supreme Court arguments immediately highlighted the policy problem with the landmark healthcare reform law.


WSJ | Fresh Warnings on Money Policies
Three global central-bank leaders warned that decision makers needed to be on alert for an array of risks associated with their easy-money policies.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Bernanke: Fed was 'helpless' in Lehman failure
The bailouts of Bear Stearns and AIG were "distasteful" but still necessary, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told students at George Washington University on Tuesday.

Minyanville | Stop Blaming the Gold Standard for the Financial Crisis!
Some conventional and well-known economists have expressed the idea that a gold standard is a bad idea and that the gold standard was a major (and possibly the major) catalyst for the Great Depression. One well-known fellow surmises that an equivalent of the gold standard is the reason why today’s European financial crisis is going on.


WSJ | U.S. Airlines Seek Action on EU Carbon Tax
The trade group representing the largest U.S. airlines has called on the Obama administration to take action against the European Union in a bid to end the bloc's carbon-trading market.
CNN Money | U.S. corporate tax rate: No. 1 in the world
Japan, which currently has the highest rate in the world -- a 39.8% rate on business income between national and local taxes -- cuts its rate to 36.8% as of April 1. The U.S. rate stands at 39.2% when both federal and state rates are included.

The American | Obama’s 2nd-term agenda? House Dems propose raising taxes by 40%, including on middle class
Just what would President Barack Obama do in a second term if had maximum “flexibility”?


USA Today | Job growth expected from cheap natural gas
The nation's fast-growing supply of cheap natural gas is setting off a manufacturing revival that's expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs as companies build or expand plants to take advantage of the low prices.


WSJ | Group Backs Simpson-Bowles Plan
A small bipartisan group of House lawmakers, bucking their Democratic and Republican leaders, is advancing a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $4 trillion over 10 years through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
National Journal | Republican Study Committee Budget Pushes More Cuts Than Ryan Plan
The conservative Republican Study Committee on Tuesday proposed a budget that would cap spending at $931 billion, lower than the House Republicans' plan, underscoring fissures within the GOP over spending.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Roll Call | Ryan’s Budget Matters, Even If It Goes Nowhere
Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget is a big story in Congress, even though it barely made it through the House Budget Committee, will take a battle to pass on the House floor and has zero chance of being embraced as is, or in any facsimile, in the Senate.
WSJ | Demand for U.S. Debt Is Not Limitless
The conventional wisdom that nearly infinite demand exists for U.S. Treasury debt is flawed and especially dangerous at a time of record U.S. sovereign debt issuance.

Neighborhood Effects | Red ink flows in state-run prepaid tuition programs
In three years the Prepaid Alabama Tuition Program (PACT) will run dry. The State Treasurer reports PACT which pays $100 million in tuition a year, has $347 million in investments remaining.
Heritage Foundation | The RSC Budget: A Preliminary Look
It launches decisive entitlement reforms, cuts spending sharply and quickly, avoids tax hikes, includes pro-growth tax reform, provides for a strong national defense, and moves aggressively—within five years—to a balanced budget.