Wednesday, April 4, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | Why Obama shouldn't tap U.S. oil reserves
As U.S. sanctions on Iran tighten and gas prices reach record levels, it is becoming more likely that a release of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is in the works. Yet analysts aren't convinced tapping the SPR is a good idea.
CNBC | US Services Sector Growth Slipped in March
The pace of growth in the U.S. services sector slipped in March after hitting its highest level in a year the previous month, as a gauge of new orders declined, according to an industry report released on Wednesday.
FOX News | Shattered Dreams: Realtors ride out tough housing market
Realtor Beverly Langley, who's been selling homes for nearly three decades, says the business isn't what it used to be. "You can't just wait for the phone to ring," she warns, adding, "It just doesn't work that way anymore."
FOX Business | CFTC Slaps JPMorgan With $20M Fine Over Lehman Collapse
Nearly four years after the disastrous implosion of investment bank Lehman Brothers, regulators punished JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday for actions the financial giant took tied to Lehman’s demise.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | Missing the slow pitch on free trade
The U.S. is more active on trade policy than it has been in years.  President Obama is meeting with Canada and Mexico about new agreements, Congress will hold hearings on changing decades-old trade law, and the federal government will more broadly be bringing several cases before the WTO.
CRS | The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Authorization, Operation, and Drawdown Policy
Congress authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) to help prevent a repetition of the economic disruption caused by the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo. EPCA specifically authorizes the President to draw down the SPR upon a finding that there is a "severe energy supply interruption."
Washington Times | U.S. runs on oil; Obama runs on anti-oil fibs
John Podesta and Geoff Garin are skilled political operatives who will spare no effort to help Democrats win elections. So their messaging memo urging Democrats to demonize the American oil sector to score political points - posted on the Politico website March 24 - should be viewed as political propaganda, rather than sound energy policy.
CNN Money | Obama trashes trickle-down economics
President Obama thoroughly denounced the budget plan favored by House Republicans on Tuesday, calling it "thinly veiled social Darwinism" that will only exacerbate income inequality in America.
Real Clear Markets | Missing the Slow Pitch On Free Trade
The U.S. is more active on trade policy than it has been in years.  President Obama is meeting with Canada and Mexico about new agreements, Congress will hold hearings on changing decades-old trade law, and the federal government will more broadly be bringing several cases before the WTO.
WSJ | How Huge Banks Threaten the Economy
Our nation is at a fork in the road and the destiny of our financial system depends critically on choosing the correct route.
Washington Times | Obama’s ‘green’ policies punish the poor
The environmental movement has flexed its lobbying might through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for decades. But never has it been more muscular than under the current administration.

National Review | Abolish the Ex-IM Bank Already
There is an intense battle going on in Washington right now over the re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank). President Obama recently announced his support for the program (even though he was against it during his 2008 campaign when he said that the Bank had become “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”) But he isn’t alone.
Café Hayek | Eugene White on bank regulation
The latest EconTalk is Eugene White talking about bank regulation and financial reform. He argues for changing incentives rather than regulating and monitoring choices. A very good idea.

Health Care

National Journal | Supreme Court Hearings Didn't Help Obama's Case, Poll Finds
Though a majority of Americans weren't swayed either way by the Supreme Court's hearings on the health care reform law, the hearings did negatively affect public perception of both the law and the Court, according to a new Pew Center survey.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Paul Ryan's Hunger Games
If there's a Laffer Curve for Presidential invective—some point at which dishonest political abuse yields diminishing returns—the White House political team must not think their boss has hit it. Even in this hyperpartisan age, President Obama's speech to the Associated Press yesterday was a parody of the form.
Politico | Being uninsured is a mandate, too
A “health care mandate,” it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.


Market Watch | Fed less interested in bond buys: minutes
There was less interest in another round of bond buys at the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting in March, according to the minutes released on Tuesday.
Bloomberg | ECB Keeps Rate at 1% as Economy Shrinks, Price Risks Grow
The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged as policy makers balance the threat of inflation in Germany against the need to fight the sovereign debt crisis.
WSJ | Fed Holds Fire on Stimulus
The Fed is in no hurry to launch new measures to boost economic growth, minutes from the central bank's most recent meeting showed, disappointing investors eager for more stimulus.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | Does Macro-Pru Leak? Evidence from a UK Policy Experiment
The regulation of bank capital as a means of smoothing the credit cycle is a central element of forthcoming macro-prudential regimes internationally.

Daily Capitalist | Reinhart and Rogoff Fight the Fed
In 2009, Drs. Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff published This Time Is Different:  Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.  This academic work became topical as it was nearing its completion due to the “Great Recession”.  


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | Taxmageddon: Massive Tax Increase Coming in 2013
If President Obama and Congress fail to act this year, an enormous, unprecedented tax increase will fall on American taxpayers starting on January 1, 2013. The Washington Post called the looming tax increase “Taxmageddon,” and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke called it a “massive fiscal cliff.”

CATO | General Services Administration: Let the Taxpayers Eat Cake
The head of the General Services Administration, which is the federal government’s procurement and property manager, has resigned in the wake of a report from the agency’s inspector general that uncovered extravagant spending at a GSA “training conference” in Las Vegas.


CNN Money | Unemployment rate: How low can it go?
The answer is being debated among two camps of prominent economic thinkers. One school of thought says that unemployment will return to around 5% as the economy eventually recovers. But an opposing view states that permanent changes in the labor market mean higher unemployment is here to stay.
Bloomberg | Tax Receipts Buoy State-Local Government Employment Trend
The city of Mesa, Arizona, fired 125 employees in 2009 as tax collections dropped amid a housing slump and a recession. Now, it is filling vacancies, training a class of police recruits for the first time in three years, and Mayor Scott Smith says he’s confident “revenue levels are going to stabilize.”
CNN Money | Yahoo cuts 2,000 jobs as radical reshaping begins
Yahoo said Wednesday that it will eliminate 2,000 employees, around 14% of its workforce, as new CEO Scott Thompson begins radically streamlining the company.
Bloomberg | Company Payrolls in U.S. Grow by Estimated 209,000 Workers
Companies in the U.S. expanded payrolls in March, showing the labor market is strengthening, according to data from a private report based on payrolls.

Economist | Stuck
Mark Thoma draws our attention to a new economic letter published at the San Francisco Fed. Its authors point out that real wage growth has been strong in the American economy since 2008. Why?
Political Calculations | Data Revision: Major Trends in U.S. New Jobless Claims
Today, we're not presenting new analysis so much as we're catching up with the multi-year data revision that the BLS incorporated into its latest report on the number of initial unemployment insurance claims filed across the United States each week


National Journal | House Budget Members Battle It Out On GOP Spending Plan
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, on Tuesday defended the GOP budget proposal drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., calling a balanced budget “a moral imperative” that Democrats have not yet met.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | Obama's auto-bailout fiction
The health care legislation is unpopular, as is the stimulus. The one thing President Obama always seems to mention is the auto bailout. Given that automakers are profitable now, he asserts, his actions, which were purportedly opposed by Republicans, have been proven wise.

The American | Obama slams Ryan’s vision as he hides his own
We’ve gone from hope and change to slash and burn. In a campaign speech to the Associated Press today, President Obama just went on and on and on: “… Trojan horse  … radical vision … thinly veiled Social Darwinism … antithetical to our entire history.” Hardly the language of an American president eager for a “grand bargain” with Republicans on taxes and spending.
Heritage Foundation | So, Where Is the President’s Solution to the Fiscal Crisis?
If President Obama wants to challenge the House Republican budget passed last week, he certainly should. His views would be more enlightening, however, if they actually said something substantial, instead of the shrill hyperbole he repeated today.