Friday, April 13, 2012

General Economics

Bloomberg | U.S. Michigan Consumer Sentiment Decreased to 75.7 in Apr
Confidence among U.S. consumers cooled in April from a one-year high, a sign the moderation in job growth may limit the biggest part of the economy.
WSJ | Euro-Zone's Recession Fears Grow
Industrial production in the euro zone slumped in February by the largest amount in more than two years, Eurostat reported Thursday, adding to evidence that the common-currency bloc is in an economic recession.
Washington Times | IMF calls for ‘rebalancing’ of global economy
The International Monetary Fund chief called for a “rebalancing” of the global economy that will involve a worldwide safety net similar to the reserve fund that European institutions have created to bail out debt-ridden members.
Bloomberg | Frugality Fatigue Spurs Americans to Trade Up
Americans are buying more expensive makeup and sandwiches again as Estee Lauder Cos. (EL) and Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (DNKN) get a boost from mid- to high-income customers.
Market Watch | Credit union battle with banks heats up
A more than decade-old effort by credit unions to expand into more small-business lending is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, driving worried bankers to step up their congressional lobbying to protect their turf.
CNN Money | Consumer bureau to ease caps on some credit card fees
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reversing a rule that would have capped credit card fees associated with opening a new credit card account, in response to a federal court ruling last year.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | How the U.S. Can Support Free Trade in the Philippines
The Save Our Industries (SAVE) Act, introduced by Representative Jim McDermott (D–WA) and supported by 20 cosponsors in the House and by Senator Daniel Inouye (D–HI) and three cosponsors in the Senate, would grant duty-free treatment to apparel assembled in the Philippines from American-made fabrics.
Real Clear Markets | The Financial Age of Free Trade
Free trade throughout the 1990's and 2000's was the embodiment of the proverbial free lunch. Except there is no free lunch, not even when you control the printing press and the keys to unfettered fractional credit production.
Fiscal Times | The Surprising Reason Why Colleges Raise Tuition
In the recent op-ed Why Does Tuition Go Up? Because Taxpayer Support Goes Down in The Chronicle of Higher Education, author Gary Fethke's argues that "rising tuition is the obvious consequence of declining state appropriations..." and that "Students are required to pay more because taxpayers are paying less--it's that simple."
WSJ | Patent Trolls vs. Progress
Microsoft announced this week that it's paying America Online $1.1 billion in cash for 800 of its patents. This comes just nine months after Apple, Microsoft and others beat out Google and Intel for control of Nortel Networks' 6,000 patents, paying a then astounding $4.5 billion in cash.

Heritage Foundation | More Government Welfare Doesn’t Equal Poverty Relief
A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, more commonly known as food stamps) helps “alleviate” poverty.
Library of Economics | The Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom
A few times I've referred to "The Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom" that I teach at the start of every economics course I give. I've usually linked to someone's restatement of them from my book, The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey.
Calculated Risk | Trade Deficit declined in February to $46 Billion
Total February exports of $181.2 billion and imports of $227.2 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $46.0 billion, down from $52.5 billion in January, revised.
The American | Why pretty much everything Obama is saying about income stagnation and inequality is wrong
Now, I think we all need to pay attention to the 2000s. It had its troubles even before the Great Recession. Crony capitalism finally took its toll on the pro-growth policies begun in the 1980s. Government got too big, and too much of our nation’s human and financial capital was steered into housing and finance.
Poitical Calculations | The Age Demographics of Minimum Wage Earners
In the charts, we see that even though the number of minimum wage earners has more than doubled from 2006's level, from 1,692,000 in that year to 2011's 3,829,000, the relative share of each age group's representation among those earning the U.S. federal minimum wage or less is largely stable from year to year.
Calculated Risk | Freddie Mac: 15-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Hits New All-Time Record
The 30-year fixed averaged just above its record low while the 15-year fixed averaged a new all-time record low of 3.11 percent breaking its previous low of 3.13 percent on March 8, 2012.

Health Care

Politico | Kathleen Sebelius: We don't have a health care backup plan
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that it would “probably” be a good idea for the department to have a backup plan in case the Supreme Court strikes down the health reform law, but the department isn’t working on one.
National Journal | Health Reform Drives Costs in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has demonstrated that health reform will continue to drive up medical costs unless states and the federal government do more to contain them, two experts argue in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | 17 trillion more reasons to repeal Obamacare
Just this week, several brand-new reasons have emerged for repealing Obamacare. Like proper, government-designed straitjackets, they come in three sizes: hefty, huge and humongous. The hefty reason to repeal Obamacare arrived just in time for the April 17 tax-filing deadline.
CATO | No Obamacare Exchanges
Obamacare had a bad couple of days before the Supreme Court — so bad that President Obama made some ill-considered comments about the Court from which he still hasn't totally backpedaled.


WSJ | Economists Don't See Fed Action This Year
More economists are convinced the Federal Reserve won't take further action to spur growth this year as the economy appears to be on firmer footing, according to The Wall Street Journal's monthly economic-forecasting survey.
Bloomberg | ECB Seen Favoring Bond Buying Over Bank Loans
The European Central Bank will restart its controversial government bond purchases rather than offer banks another round of unlimited three-year loans as the sovereign debt crisis worsens, a survey of economists shows.
Market Watch | Post-Fedspeak deluge, QE3 is in play — but not yet
The 12 different Federal Reserve speakers who hit the lecture trail this week were all willing to, in theory at least, indulge positions at odds with their reputation.
Market Watch | U.S. cost of living climbs 0.3% in March
The cost of living rose again in March even as the price of gasoline leveled off, the U.S. government reported Friday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Keynesian "Easy Money" Is Nothing But Currency Devaluation
Virtually all mainstream academic economists today are Keynesians/neo-Mercantilists by this measure, although they probably would not label themselves such. Part of the career strategy of most any academic today is to apply a veneer of novelty or innovation to what are in fact ancient ideas.
FOX Business | Plosser: Fed Should Offer More Clarity on Potential Policy Moves
In a speech to economists in Washington, D.C., Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said Thursday that the central bank should give consumers, investors and businesses more information about economic forecasts officials may plug into their policymaking and more guidance on how and when the might react to them if they prove accurate--which also would provide signals to how they might react if their projections don't come to pass.


USA Today | Tax refunds being used to pay for bankruptcy filings
Some Americans spend their tax refunds on high-tech gadgets and long-awaited vacations. Others use the cash to file for bankruptcy.
Bloomberg | Top Earners Can Find Ways Around Buffett Rule
The highest-earning U.S. households have ways to escape President Barack Obama’s Buffett rule with tax-planning techniques that would limit their liability and undermine the proposal’s purpose.
National Journal | Obama Releases Taxes, Does Not Qualify for Buffett Rule
President Obama earned $789,674 in 2011, the White House announced on Friday. However, with this income, he does not even qualify for the so-called Buffett Rule that he has promoted relentlessly and the Senate will take up on Monday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | The Buffett Rule: Obama's Community Organizer Understanding of Taxation
President Obama has a community organizer understanding of America’s taxes. His rhetoric doesn’t recognize that under our tax system the earnings from capital investment are taxed not once, but multiple times.

Tax Foundation | State Tax Collections Rise 9 Percent
The U.S. Census Bureau today released their data on state tax collections for the year ending June 30, 2011. Compared to the previous year, each state saw tax revenue rise, by amounts varying between 0.4 percent (Hawaii) and 44.5 percent (North Dakota).


WSJ | Recession's Pain Hit Men, Women At Different Pace
Mitt Romney's statement that women have suffered most of the job losses since early 2009 is true, but it offers only a partial account of how men and women have fared in the recession and recovery.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Visa Protectionism
Protectionists always argue they're protecting domestic jobs. In reality, they're killing jobs for everyone.

Economist | The geography of recovery
On Tuesday, the Bureau of Labour Statistics released its latest employment figures for American metropolitan areas, for the month of February. I thought it might be a good opportunity to take a look at dynamics of labour-market recovery across the country's biggest cities.
WSJ | Four Common Unemployment Myths
Economists and non-experts alike pore over the government’s jobs numbers each month for hints about where the economy is headed. But confusion about how the statistics are calculated has led to some myths about the report and what it shows.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Post | Europe now sees its financial crisis never really went away
The European “crisis” is back. Actually, it never went away — and won’t for many years. The problems are so deep and pervasive that there is no easy or obvious solution.
Washington Times | Block-granting our way to balance
Some commentators will tell you that our debt crisis has been aggravated by the political rift between Republicans and Democrats. Those who say so will suggest that the only way out of our fiscal crisis is the bipartisan way.

Economist | It isn't a debt crisis
We've charted a fiscal gap, which is defined as the budget surplus (net of interest) that a government would need to run from 2013 on if it wanted to reduce its sovereign-debt load to 50% of GDP by 2050.