Wednesday, May 2, 2012

General Economics

National Journal | HUD Secretary Says Housing Market Has Reached a 'Turning Point'
Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary Shaun Donovan said on Tuesday the housing market reached a “turning point” this winter but the administration is still grappling with how to solve three main sources of stress preventing a robust recovery.
USA Today | Most student loans unaffected by upcoming increase in rates
You know an issue has reached critical mass when it's the topic of late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon's "Slow Jam the News" segment, and none other than President Obama shows up to help.
CNN Money | Europe's next recession risk: Germany
As recession spreads across Europe, Germany may not be able to avoid being dragged down.
Washington Times | U.S. manufacturing grows at fastest pace since June
U.S. manufacturing grew last month at the fastest pace in nearly a year. New orders, production and a measure of employment all rose.
CNN Money | Debt inequality is the new income inequality
The bottom 95% of Americans have seen debt levels balloon compared to their earnings over the past 20 years or so, as falling incomes made them more dependent on credit to maintain their lifestyles.
National Journal | Fed Study Indicates Community Banks Unscathed by Durbin Swipe Fee
A Federal Reserve Board study released on Tuesday delivered a major blow to arguments by the financial-services lobby that an amendment added to the Dodd-Frank finance reform law to regulate the swipe fees on debit-card purchases charged to merchants would hurt community banks and credit unions.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | On the Road: Access to Transportation Infrastructure and Economic Growth in China
This paper estimates the effect of access to transportation networks on regional economic outcomes in China over a twenty-period of rapid income growth. It addresses the problem of the endogenous placement of networks by exploiting the fact that these networks tend to connect historical cities.
Washington Times | Running on empty
There’s a disconnect between the economy’s relentless slowdown in the fourth year of Barack Obama’s presidency and the sideshow issues he’s raising on the campaign trail. Actually, “issues” is a gross exaggeration of the sleight-of-hand politics he’s practicing right now in a desperate bid to save his presidency.
CNN Money | The rich are working harder
Not only has the income gap between the rich and the poor grown since the 1980s, but the leisure divide has widened too, a new study from three National Bureau of Economic Research associates has found.
Politico | More job-killer than job-creator
Many Americans think Washington is broken, out of touch and unaccountable. For good reason: When it comes to jobs and economic growth, Washington often just can’t get it right. Consider how the Obama administration has made a mess of important opportunities that would provide more jobs and greater prosperity.
Daily Caller | Defending innovation in America
MacroSolve filed suit earlier this year against big guns like Wal-Mart, Marriott, and Facebook over app-related patent infringement, and the critics immediately cried troll. Yet MacroSolve’s continuing 15-year record as a player in the mobile technology market suggests otherwise, and it highlights a crucial point: Not every company that brings suit for software patent infringement is an exploiter.
Washington Times | Obama policies threaten the most vulnerable
Choice is a word that generates powerful emotions, especially in America, and most notably when it concerns the freedom to choose in extremely personal settings, such as health care.

Economist | This is how the recovery succeeds or fails
Much as we've been talking about the meaning and importance of a rigid 2% inflation target in America, it would be useful to have a tangible example to help illustrate the point.

Health Care

National Journal | FDA Needs Post-Market Drug Plan, Institute Says
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs a better plan for monitoring the safety of drugs after they’re released to the public, but it won’t be easy, an Institute of Medicine committee said on Tuesday.
National Journal | HHS Tallies Health Center Expansions
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited a Philadelphia community health center on Tuesday to advertise the dollars being devoted to expansion of these popular primary care practices, which care for underserved communities at low cost.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Exposing the Medicare Double Count
One of the enduring mysteries of President Obama's health law is how its spending constraints and payroll tax hikes on high earners can be used to shore up Medicare finances and at the same time pay for a massive new entitlement program. Isn't this double counting?


Market Watch | Fed members show reluctance to do more QE
Several Federal Reserve officials expressed reluctance on Tuesday to buy more assets, a strategy known as quantitative easing, to help the economy.
WSJ | Australia Rate Cut Signals a Shift
Australia's slowing economy got a shot in the arm Tuesday when the central bank cut a half-percentage point from official interest rates, signaling a shift in its focus away from fighting inflation and toward safeguarding growth amid an uncertain global outlook.
Politico | The yuan a top concern for U.S.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton head to China on Thursday for another round of negotiations about the economy and security — but don’t expect too much to be done about the exchange rate.


Politico | Amazon cuts sales tax deals with states, not feds
Amazon may have just upended Congress — to the chagrin of those pushing for a federal online sales tax bill.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Investors | The 'Buffett Rule' Should Be Known As The 'Buffett Ruse'
President Obama insists his so-called "Buffett Rule" — which cannot even pass the Democrat-controlled Senate — is a serious proposal, not just an election-year gimmick. Let's consider the facts.
Entrepreneur | Lowering Taxes on Manufacturers Won't Help Small Business
President Obama wants to help American manufacturers by allowing them to pay lower taxes than other businesses. His tax reform plan sets a maximum corporate rate of 28 percent, but proposes a maximum rate of only 25 percent on manufacturers, and even less if the business qualifies as "advanced" manufacturer -- a term that the President's proposal fails to define.

Heritage Foundation | What Obamacare’s Tax Hikes Mean for All Americans
In a recent article for MarketWatch, Andrea Coombes writes, “Whatever their opinion of the health-care reform law, wealthy Americans have a lot of money at risk in the Supreme Court’s coming decision on the law’s constitutionality.”


Bloomberg | Euro-Area Unemployment at 15-Year High as Slump Deepens
Euro-region unemployment rose to a 15- year high and manufacturing contracted for a ninth month, adding to signs the economic slump is deepening.
CNN Money | Private sector job growth slows
Businesses added just 119,000 jobs in April, according to a report issued Wednesday by payroll-processing company ADP. The number fell far short of the 170,000 jobs economists were expecting.
Market Watch | Hiring slows as ADP reports 119,000 new April jobs
Hiring has slowed down, with private-employment gains in April the weakest in seven months, according to a report released Wednesday by payrolls-processor Automatic Data Processing Inc.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | Overpaid public workers: Actually, we're moving toward consensus
Many public workers are overpaid relative to their private sector counterparts, especially in large, unionized states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and California. This may sound like a controversial claim, but it shouldn't.

Political Calculations | New Jobless Claims: Thunderdome Edition!
If the BLS keeps to its recent track record, it will definitely be revising the number of new jobless claims recorded for the week ending 21 April 2012 upward when it revises its data for that week this Thursday, 3 May 2012 - the only question is by how much.


Market Watch | Treasury to auction $72 billion next week
The Treasury Department will sell $72 billion in notes and bonds next week in its quarterly refunding auctions, the government said Wednesday.
CNN Money | Debt inequality is the new income inequality
The bottom 95% of Americans have seen debt levels balloon compared to their earnings over the past 20 years or so, as falling incomes made them more dependent on credit to maintain their lifestyles.
Daily Finance | News About Social Security Trust Fund Shortfall Only Gets Worse
Last week's report by the Social Security Administration Trustees confirmed that the program's finances are still falling apart

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
The American | Europe’s Future on the Ballot
Depending on what happens this weekend, Europe should start bracing itself for a renewed intensification of its sovereign debt crisis.
CNBC | US Government Needs to Deleverage
The U.S. government will have to follow its citizens and corporates in deleveraging its balance sheet, Bob Baur, chief global economist, Principal Global Investors, said Wednesday.

The American | Forward! Is Obama getting ready to leap off the fiscal cliff?
There’s some evidence that President Obama would consider letting all the Bush-era tax cuts expire (see above chart from Strategas Research) at year’s end, even though that would mean a massive tax hike on middle incomers during a time of economic weakness.
WSJ | Greenspan: Obama Should Have Embraced Simpson-Bowles
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Tuesday said President Barack Obama should have immediately embraced the 2010 Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction proposal.
National Review | Time to Replace Debt-producing Austerity With Debt-reducing Austerity
I made the case last week that there are two types of austerity measures: The one that successfully reduces the debt-to-GDP ratio (a combination of spending cuts and structural reforms) and the one that fails to reduce debt (a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, also known as the balanced approach).
The American | No, Europe shouldn’t abandon austerity
FT columnist Gideon Rachman offers a snappy and persuasive counter to those calling for Europe to abandon its fiscal austerity drive.