Thursday, May 10, 2012

General Economics

WSJ | U.S. Trade Deficit Widens
The U.S. deficit in international trade of goods and services ballooned 14.1% to $51.83 billion from a downwardly revised $45.42 billion the month before, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The February trade gap was originally reported as $46.03 billion.
USA Today | Study: Economic mobility depends on the state you live in
The ability of individuals to achieve the American dream depends on where they live, according to the first state-by-state look at the opportunity to move up the economic ladder.
WSJ | Borrowers Face Big Delays in Refinancing Mortgages
Clogged mortgage pipelines have created headaches for hundreds of thousands of Americans trying to take advantage of low mortgage rates, which averaged 4.05% for the week ending April 27, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
CNN Money | How small businesses grow, even in a tough economy
In a presidential election year, the economy is sure to be the story, with plenty of numbers for detail and small businesses playing the main characters. But over the past 14 years, the Boston-based Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) has collected 100 urban business success stories every year.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | A Mortgage Deal With the Wrong Incentives
This week Bank of America announced that it will contact 200,000 mortgage customers to see if they qualify for reduced principal and interest payments under a February Justice Department settlement.
The American | When Reducing Barriers Leads to More Failed Businesses
Improving the payoff to overcoming obstacles to entrepreneurial success is a better approach to stimulating successful entrepreneurship than making it easier to become an entrepreneur.

Atlantic | We Are the 99.5%: The Real Inequality Jump Is in the Top Half-Percentile
Thanks in part to Occupy Wall Street, when people talk about inequality these days, they're typically referring to the extent to which the top 1 percent have pulled away from the bottom 99 percent. 
The American | Oh, by all means, France should certainly spend more instead of deregulating … not
And out of 142 countries, the WEF ranked France 68th in labor market efficiency. The U.S., by contrast, ranked 4th.

Health Care

USA Today | Retiree health care costs rising; many people not preparing
The golden years are losing their luster as health care costs continue to outpace income and many Americans are not saving for retirement.

The American | Will Obamacare crush middle-income Americans?
A family of four with an aggregate income of more than $88,000 annually or an individual earning around $44,000 could find themselves badly strained by healthcare costs under the Obama plan.


WSJ | Fed Foe Ron Paul Breakfasts With Bernanke at Central Bank
Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul certainly wants to end the Federal Reserve. But he also has to eat breakfast.
Daily Capitalist | The Fed: The Ultimate Disorganizing Organization
In the remarks below I evaluate the Federal Reserve System — and the institution of central banking more generally — from the perspective of an organizational economist.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Post | Taxing jobs out of existence
An axiom of scarcity is understood by people not warped by working for the federal government, which can print money when it wearies of borrowing it. The axiom is: A unit of something — time, energy, money — spent on this cannot be spent on that.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Government’s Snake Oil Won’t Cure Jobs Ailment
Want to know what Federal Reserve policy makers are thinking at any given time? Take a look at what the research staff is doing.

Political Calculations | Are Baby Boomers Stealing Jobs from the Young? (Part 3)
We're doing a direct comparison of each of the five-year age cohorts we have been considering, so we'll capture the shift in the age distribution of the U.S. civilian labor force, with respect to the non-institutionalized population for each over that time.
The American | New jobless claims report is more evidence of Stagnation Nation
These numbers just aren’t what you would expect to see in a strong, healthy economy—which, of course, it isn’t. Also, banks are now downgrading their 1Q GDP estimates to below 2%. And 2Q might not be a whole heck of a lot better.


WSJ | How a Radical Greek Rescue Plan Fell Short
Two years after Europe bailed Greece out to protect the euro, the rescue has become a debacle that threatens to unravel the common currency.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Stimulus Spending Keeps Failing
The weak economic recovery in the U.S. and the even weaker performance in much of Europe have renewed calls for ending budget austerity and returning to larger fiscal deficits.
NY Post | Soaking everybody won’t fix the debt
Start with those making $1 million or more a year. For 2012, the Joint Committee on Taxation (Congress’ official estimator) estimates that these super-rich will make up just 0.3 percent of all tax filers and pay $269 billion in income tax (23.6 percent of the income-tax total). Even doubling their income-tax bill would leave us $1 trillion short.

Café Hayek | The slashed spending of European governments
My point is that if you’re going to claim that the virtue of “slashing government spending” has been “overwhelmingly refuted by the experience of the last two years” you ought to at least provide some evidence that there have been spending cuts in the last two years.
Marginal Revolution | Economic growth is not contractionary, and other confusions about stimulus and spending
Let’s say that private gdp is 100 and government spending is 100.  Gdp then suddenly goes up to 200, so government spending as a percentage of gdp falls from 50% to 33.3%.  This is not a contractionary event.
Café Hayek | Alternatives to austerity
What should you do when you find out that you can’t pay your bills? You have two choices. You can default on your obligations or you can borrow money to make up the difference.
Daily Capitalist | Austerity Is Blamed Not Praised
Denial is leading to collective economic suicide in Europe and the United States. The French on Sunday elected a socialist president who wants to raise taxes on those elusive rich and keep spending as if there is no tomorrow.