Monday, April 2, 2012

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
Bloomberg | Manufacturing in U.S. Expanded at a Faster Pace in March
Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at a faster pace than forecast in March, a sign the industry is weathering slower global growth.
CNN Money | 1.5 million card numbers at risk from hack
A data breach at a payments processing firm has potentially compromised up to 1.5 million credit and debit card numbers from all of the major card brands.
National Journal | New Data Suggest Growing Economic Optimism
Consumer confidence reached a yearly high in March, while new data showed individuals are spending more, suggesting growing economic optimism.
WSJ | Grim Data Cast Cloud Over Euro Zone
Dire figures on unemployment and manufacturing activity in the euro zone's weakest members on Monday highlighted the scale of the currency bloc's economic problems, just days after finance ministers boosted their bailout fund in a bid to fend off the debt crisis.
Bloomberg | Euro-Region Unemployment Surges to 14-Year High, Nears Record
Euro-region unemployment rose to the highest in more than 14 years and manufacturing contracted for an eighth month, adding to signs the economy probably slipped into a recession in the first quarter.
Bloomberg | Construction Spending in U.S. Unexpectedly Declined in February
Construction spending in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in February, reflecting broad-based declines that indicate the building industry will take time to stabilize.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | 'Obamacare' for the financial industry
The best way to understand the Dodd-Frank Act is to think of it as Obamacare for the financial industry. Like its health care counterpart, it leaves the members of the massive financial services industry as privately owned firms, but blankets them with so much regulation that they are no longer really independent operators.
Washington Times | The housing market’s nonrecovery
Freddie Mac issued a report Wednesday claiming the housing market may be emerging from a long slump. The government-backed mortgage giant happily cited the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo confidence index, which is up for the fifth month in a row.
The Daily | The president’s green energy policies don’t add up
Speaking recently at America’s largest solar energy plant — in Boulder City, Nev. — President Obama insisted that green energy is so important, “You’d think that everybody would be supportive of solar power. And yet, if some politicians have their way, there won’t be any more public investment in solar energy.”
Forbes | The 'Long Run' Is Here: Let's Bury John Maynard Keynes
In an oft-repeated quote, John Maynard Keynes famously remarked that, “In the long run, we are all dead.” The only complication to this statement of course is recognizing when exactly death has occurred.
Reason | Forget About Income Inequality
What’s more, America remains a highly income-mobile society where poverty is a stage of life, not a way of life. There is no permanent underclass here.
Washington Post | Energy ‘independence,’ after all?
Amid election-year furor over high gasoline prices, something significant has happened to America’s energy outlook. We are steadily reducing our dependence on imported oil — a long-ago Nixon goal.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Heritage Foundation | Income Inequality: Left Distorts the Facts, Again
Earlier this month, University of California economist Emmanuel Saez released his latest installment on income inequality. Predictably, the media is trumpeting its message without considering crucial facts.
Economist | China will overtake America within a decade. Want to bet?
For those of you who don’t know him, Mr Pettis is a finance professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management and a frequent blogger. He would like to bet that China’s dollar GDP (calculated at market exchange rates) will NOT surpass America’s in 2018.
Calculated Risk | Personal Saving Rate and Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments
By request, a couple more graphs based on the February Personal Income and Outlays report.
John B. Taylor | Policy Failure and the Great Recession
The debate about the causes of the financial crisis and the great recession will continue for many years, and the facts and analysis that Robert Hetzel put forth in his new book The Great Recession: Market Failure or Policy Failure? should now be part of that debate.
Calculated Risk | Schedule for Week of April 1st
The key report for this week will be the March employment report to be released on Friday, Apr 6th. Other key reports include the ISM manufacturing index on Monday, vehicle sales on Tuesday, and the ISM non-manufacturing (service) index on Wednesday. The FOMC minutes for the March meeting will be released on Tuesday.
Calculated Risk | Unofficial Problem Bank list declines to 948 Institutions
Here is the unofficial problem bank list for March 30, 2012.

Health Care

News                                                                                                                             
Politico | The health reform ruling: Four likely scenarios
One day in June, the Supreme Court will declare whether President Barack Obama’s health care reform law is constitutional.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | In Opposing Obamacare, We Were Serious the Whole Time
“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” With those words, Justice Anthony Kennedy sent the legal establishment reeling.
Politico | The next health care frontier
Two years after the passage of “Obamacare,” the future of the health care system in the United States remains a central issue animating political debate.
NBER | Moral Hazard in Health Insurance: How Important Is Forward Looking Behavior?
Our empirical strategy exploits the fact that employees who join an employer-provided health insurance plan later in the calendar year face the same initial ("spot") price of medical care but a higher expected end-of-year ("future") price than employees who join the same plan earlier in the year.

Monetary

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Interest Rates Still Tame, but Worries Remain
Rising interest rates aren't threatening the U.S. economic recovery. But a sudden spike or sustained jump this year could eventually pose a problem.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Reason Foundation | Sound Money: Tide Laundry Soap Becoming Gold Standard in the Drug Trade
It is fitting that this story would surface around the same time that Bernanke has been harping about the gold standard.

Taxes

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | Sugar Taxes Are Unfair And Unhealthy
If the regulatory discussion about sugar is going to be based on science, rather than science fiction, it needs to move beyond kicking the soda can.
AEI | Who's the April Fool? US combined tax rates highest in developed world
April 1 may be a day for jokes, but on Sunday Japan ceded to the United States a distinction that is no laughing matter: the highest combined statutory corporate tax rate (state, local, and federal) in the developed world.
WSJ | To Live and Die in Tennessee
More good news from the states. After our Saturday editorial on states eliminating the death tax, Tennessee Govenor Bill Haslam called to say he has seen the light and favors doing the same in the Volunteer State.
Daily Caller | The truth about Paul Ryan’s tax plan
Personally, I favor cutting taxes on the rich and everyone else, but that’s not the goal of the Ryan plan. The goal is to simplify the tax code and spur economic growth, and you can do that without changing the total revenue raised or who it is raised from.
Washington Times | America’s high tax leadership
The United States is now, officially, the worst place to do business in the developed world. On Sunday, Japan lowered its corporate tax rate in the hopes of luring business to its shores, handing the title of highest tax rate to the Land of the Free.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Tax Foundation | What is Japan’s New Tax Rate?
As everyone knows by now, Japan's corporate tax rate is scheduled to be cut on April 1st, but there is considerable confusion on what that new rate is. A lot of this confusion stems from the different ways in which Japan's combined national and subnational rate is calculated.

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
Market Watch | U.S. job growth seen tapering off slightly
Picture this: Job creation is on the upswing, consumers are spending freely and executives are more confident about their business. Things are looking up.
CNN Money | Jobless rates fall in 29 states
Unemployment fell in 29 states in February and rose in only eight, the government reported Friday, in another sign of broad improvement in the U.S. labor market.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Reason | Job Killers
Politicians say they “create jobs.” In fact, only the private sector generates the information needed to create real, productive jobs.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Library of Economics | Ed Glaeser on Job Creation
In 2009, the latest year for which we have data, new businesses created 2.33 million jobs, while older businesses destroyed, on net, more than 7 million jobs.

Budget

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Spain Wields $36 Billion Budget Ax
Spain unveiled its most severe budget cuts in decades on Friday as it finds itself once again cast as a central battleground in the fight to contain the euro-zone crisis.
CNN Money | 'Hidden spending' makes government bigger
The issue of so-called tax expenditures is of great importance today, as politicians and presidential candidates debate how to control government spending, which is a measure of how big government is.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Endless Spending Spree
From George Washington to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the national debt tended to grow in wartime and shrink in peacetime. Because the dollar was generally convertible into gold or silver at a fixed and statutory rate, the central bank, when there was a central bank, couldn't just materialize money as the Federal Reserve does today.
WSJ | Federal Lending Is as Rotten as Federal Borrowing
The big bump in federalized lending came in August 2008 when the government took over failing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. With the addition of these two giants, the federal government now has a $5 trillion mortgage portfolio, much of it of dubious value.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Daily Capitalist | Germans Channel Austrians As They Prepare To Do What the U.S. Should Have Done Last Decade
The Germans, who along with the French took the lead last decade in violating the Maastricht Treaty’s limitations on fiscal deficits for eurozone member states, are uniting to reject pleas from advocates of loose monetary and fiscal policy in Europe