Thursday, April 5, 2012

General Economics

Bloomberg | Service Industries in U.S. Kept Expanding in March
Service industries in the U.S. grew in March, capping the strongest quarter in a year and indicating the world’s largest economy will keep generating jobs.
NY Times | Census Data Offers Look at Effects of Recession
The Census Bureau offered the first detailed picture of population shift in the United States since the end of the recession, releasing data that showed that population growth in outer suburbs — the fastest growing areas in the last decade
Bloomberg | Credit-Default Swaps in U.S. Jump Most in Almost Four Months
A benchmark gauge of U.S. company credit risk jumped by the most in almost four months as Spanish bond yields rose amid investor concern that the country may need international aid.
Market Watch | Treasury yields fall to lowest in a week
Treasury prices rose on Thursday, pushing yields down to their lowest levels in a week, as growing worries about Spain’s debt problems and Europe’s economic outlook revived interest in the relative safety of U.S. government debt.
National Journal | IG Report: Solyndra Loan Review Was ‘Rushed’
The Energy Department’s approval of a $535 million loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt Solyndra was “rushed,” according to a Treasury Department inspector general report released this week.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Library of Economics | How Property Rights Solve Problems
Should restaurants allow smoking or not? Should schools teach evolution or intelligent design or both? Should insurance companies cover contraception? Should I be able to take off my shoes in your living room?
Washington Times | Mr. Obama, you’re no Ronald Reagan
Well, there they go again. While criticizing the new Republican budget plan on Tuesday, President Obama invoked the Gipper. “Ronald Reagan,” he said, “who, as I recall, was not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control - that for him to make a deal - he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases.”
WSJ | Killing Coal
For three years the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed a de facto ban on new coal-fired power while doing everything it can to harm existing coal plants. But for once there's something good to say about the latest EPA carbon rule: At least the agency was less devious when it formalized the coal ban last week.
NBER | Does Federal Student Aid Raise Tuition? New Evidence on For-Profit Colleges
We use administrative data from five states to provide the first comprehensive estimates of the size of the for-profit higher education sector in the U.S. Our estimates include schools that are not currently eligible to participate in federal student aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act and are therefore missed in official counts.

Heritage Foundation | Freeze Red Tape to Warm the Economy
The House Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 15–13, recently approved a proposed moratorium on new regulations in order to spur job creation.
The American | Just how fast can the U.S. economy grow?
What’s a reasonable expectation for future U.S. economic growth? It’s an important question. Higher growth is critical to avoiding a debt crisis, not to mention improving the American standard of living.
Café Hayek | Living Standards and Ideology
Contrary to a narrative often heard in popular discussion, the U.S. economy circa the late 1970s through 2008 was – as Spencer recognizes – mixed.  It was not close to being laissez faire.  There was some deregulation (such as, for example, in air and surface transportation); there was some additional regulation (such as, for example, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act).  

Health Care

National Journal | Insurance Companies Would Have Owed $2 Billion Under Health Care Law
Consumers would have gotten $2 billion back from their health insurance companies if rebate rules in the health care law had gone into effect in 2010, according to a report from the liberal Commonwealth Fund.
USA Today | Prescription drug spending was flat in 2011
Spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. was nearly flat in 2011 at $320 billion, held down by senior citizens and others reducing use of medicines and greater use of cheaper generic pills.
Politico | Hikes in cost of veterans' health care draw fire
The Obama administration’s budget proposal to cut defense spending, in part, by increasing the cost of health care for retired service members has riled veterans groups and members of Congress.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | The Role of Partisanship in the Health Care Reform Challenge
The large interest shown by the public in the three days of oral arguments devoted to the constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be heartening to any fan of the US Constitution.
Real Clear Markets | Medicare Is a Future Budget Buster
The riveting oral arguments before the Supreme Court about the Affordable Care Act have diverted attention from another facet of the health-care problem that is likely also to emerge as a 2012 campaign issue: how to revise Medicare so that its future cost will be less than the astronomic amount expected under present law.

Heritage Foundation | Critics Are Wrong: Conservatives Have a Plan for Health Reform
The Heritage Foundation, for example, has outlined a detailed and comprehensive approach to reforming health care in Saving the American Dream. There are four core elements of this conservative alternative.


Bloomberg | Draghi Scotches ECB Exit Talk as Spain Keeps Crisis Alive
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi quashed talk of an early exit from emergency stimulus measures as Spain struggled to borrow in financial markets, a reminder of the risk that the region’s debt crisis could flare again.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Project Syndicate | Fed Policy and Inflation Risk
During the past four years, the United States Federal Reserve has added enormous liquidity to the US commercial banking system, and thus to the American economy. Many observers worry that this liquidity will lead in the future to a rapid increase in the volume of bank credit, causing a brisk rise in the money supply – and of the subsequent rate of inflation.
Bloomberg | Fed Exploring Selling Maiden Lane III Assets From AIG Rescue
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is considering selling assets in its Maiden Lane III LLC portfolio, which were assumed in the government bailout of American International Group Inc., the district bank said today.

Reason Foundation | The Federal Reserve Signals No Further Easing…Until the Next Easing
Minutes for the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting were released yesterday afternoon sending the stock market down and Treasury yields up largely due to the hawkish tone of the release.
WSJ | Big Banks See Fed Raising Rates in Third Quarter 2014
Wall Street’s biggest banks slightly pushed out their expectations for when the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates, according to a survey the New York Fed conducted ahead of the central bank’s March meeting.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
National Journal | Potholes on the Path to Cutting Loopholes
Tax reform is the new black -- especially in Congress, where going after tax “loopholes” has become a popular refrain across the political spectrum. See the seven budgets that came to the House floor last week: Each included some version of simplifying the tax code by ridding it of special breaks. And, along with “fairness,” one of the most-cited reasons for evening out the tax code is the economic benefits such reform would bring.

Tax Foundation | Tax Complexity: Ice Cream Cake Edition
Former Tax Foundation economist Josh Barro has a great column up on Forbes this week about just how ridiculous the minutiae of a state's tax code can get. It seems that Wisconsin recently changed its sales tax exemption for food, leaving some question as to exactly which foods are exempt and which are not.


Market Watch | U.S. jobless claims fall slightly to 357,000
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell slightly last week and remained at a four-year low, the Labor Department said Thursday.
USA Today | Older workers capture more new jobs
Older workers are snaring an outsized share of job gains in the economic recovery as they put off retirement amid shrinking nest eggs, changes in Social Security benefits and improved health.
Market Watch | Planned job cuts down 27% in March
Planned job cuts fell in March to the lowest level in 10 months, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Announced layoffs fell 27% on a monthly basis to 37,880 and were down 9% year-on-year.

WSJ | Moody’s Analytics Sees More Rapid Unemployment Decline This Year
The U.S. economy is on track to grow at about 2.5% through the middle of next year before accelerating to 4% growth by mid-2014, according to a report from Moody’s Analytics.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Europe Needs the Bond Vigilantes
Spain's disappointing government-bond auction this week is a sign of things to come: If Europe's debt-bound governments won't get their fiscal houses in order, the bond vigilantes will descend, pressuring them to do so.