Friday, May 25, 2012

General Economics

WSJ | New Signs of Global Slowdown
On Thursday, the U.S. reported that businesses were slowing their orders of computers, aircraft, machinery and other long-lasting goods. Measures of business sentiment in Europe slipped, and reports from purchasing managers at manufacturers around the globe turned down.
National Journal | Summer Drivers Get Some Relief, But Not From Gas-Price Politics
Memorial Day weekend usually heralds an annual surge in gasoline prices, as American drivers hit the road and oil refiners switch to a cleaner but pricier summer fuel blend. And in an election year, rising prices usually means heightened political rhetoric about energy, drilling, and the role of big oil.
CNN Money | 30-year mortgage rate hits another record low
Buying a home got even cheaper this week as interest rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage set a record low for the fourth week in a row.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | FDIC: Bank profits at highest level since 2007
Bank profits in the first quarter of 2012 reached their highest quarterly income levels in nearly five years, a federal banking regulator said Thursday.
CRS | Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Funding Trends Since FY2002
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers a number of programs and activities that are primarily designed to address housing problems faced by households with very low incomes or other special housing needs. Most of the funding for HUD's programs and activities comes from discretionary appropriations provided each year in the annual appropriations acts enacted by Congress.
Politico | Student loan bills stall in Senate
Senators rejected dueling Republican and Democratic plans to stop rates from doubling in July, because of partisan fighting – again – over how the $6-billion bill would be paid for.

Fortune | Why Shell is betting billions to drill for oil in Alaska
This summer, the energy giant will begin exploring off the icy coast of Alaska -- after years of resistance by environmentalists. The payoff could be the largest U.S. offshore oil discovery in a generation.
WSJ | Uncertain Businesses Go Into Wait-And-See Mode
New orders taken by durable goods makers edged up 0.2% in April, but the closely watched bookings for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft–seen as a proxy for future business investment–dropped 1.9% on top of a 2.2% decline in March.
Economist | Remembering when the future kept getting bigger
How big can the American economy grow? This week’s Free exchange column tackles the critical question of America’s potential: the maximum output it can sustain given its endowments of capital, labour and technology.
Heritage Foundation | Four Big Problems with Obama’s Energy Subsidy Push
These subsidies have and continue to enjoy bipartisan support precisely because they benefit both Republicans and Democrats come election time, when they can say they helped create jobs for their district and state.
WSJ | New Gauge Shows U.S. Factory Growth Slowing
The flash purchasing managers’ index compiled by data provider Markit dropped to 53.9 in May from 56.0 in April, according to an economist who has seen the numbers. The Markit report said the index is the lowest since February.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Liberal Legal Meltdown Over ObamaCare
In apparent panic at the tenor of the Supreme Court argument over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), liberal law professors have exploded with anticipatory denunciations of the court's conservative justices—claiming that it would be "hypocritical" and "partisan" of them to invalidate legislation passed by Congress when they generally oppose "judicial activism."

Library of Economics | Quotations from Alice Rivlin
In arguing with Sidney Winter, who wants a large well-funded military because if it's small, "we" can't intervene in other countries, Alice Rivlin said, "Aren't we a little bit tempted to use it [the military] if we have it?"


Bloomberg | Frozen Europe Means ECB Must Resort to ELA for Banks
The European Central Bank is trying to limit the flow of information about so-called Emergency Liquidity Assistance, which is increasingly being tapped by distressed euro-region financial institutions as the debt crisis worsens.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Businessweek | What a Return to the Drachma Really Looks Like
From a distance, returning to the drachma seems like a great solution for Greece. Economists such as New York University’s Nouriel Roubini say that by quitting the euro, Greece would seize control of its fate.

WSJ | Fed’s Dudley Doesn’t See Need for More Easing
Expectations for U.S. economic growth, while “pretty disappointing” at around 2.4%, is sufficient to keep the central bank from easing monetary policy, Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley said.


NY Times | An Often Procrastinating Congress Is Raring at the Gate on Tax Cuts
It is a maxim in Congress these days: If high-profile legislation affecting millions of Americans is about to expire, deal with it at the last possible second, preferably with rancor.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | The Not-So-Free State
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a quarter-billion dollars’ worth of tax increases into law on Tuesday. The move is meant to keep the state’s ever-expanding budget on a path toward growth. “Growth” is the last thing the private-sector economy is going to see in the Free State.

Neighborhood Effects | New Research on Dedicated Taxes
Earlier this week, George Crowley and Adam Hoffer published new Mercatus research on dedicated tax revenues in the states. The practice of dedicating tax revenues to a specific purpose is popular among both politicians and voters.
Tax Foundation | Maryland Gov. O'Malley Signs Tax Increases into Law
On May 22 Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law a bill raising income taxes and tobacco taxes and ending certain business tax breaks. The bill increases tax rates for single filers making over $100,000 ($150,000 for a couple) with a new top rate of 5.75% on income over $250,000 ($300,000 for a couple).


FOX News | How US states fared on jobless aid applications
Weekly US unemployment benefit applications were largely unchanged last week, a sign hiring will likely continue at a modest pace. The number of people seeking benefits dipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000.
CNN Money | Jobless claims fall slightly
Claims for unemployment benefits have been chopping around the same level for about a month, signaling companies probably increased their hiring only slightly in May.


Washington Times | EU summit over, eurozone ills are not
European Union leaders concluded their latest summit early Thursday with few ways to cure the continent’s festering financial crisis, even as the potential for a messy Greek exit from the euro appears to be rising. Some leaders stressed the importance of planning for just such an event but offered no measures that might help Greece avoid it.
Bloomberg | China Banks May Miss Loan Target for 2012, Officials Say
China’s biggest banks may fall short of loan targets for the first time in at least seven years as an economic slowdown crimps demand for credit, three bank officials with knowledge of the matter said.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Deus ex Eurobonds
European stock markets have been tumbling all week over fears of the damage a Greek exit from the euro zone could do to the single currency and even the European Union. Yet through it all, Germany's borrowing costs keep going down—so much so that on Wednesday Berlin sold two-year bonds that pay no interest.
Washington Times | Obama’s big deficit lie
President Obama claims federal budget deficits have not soared out of control during his administration. He has officially jumped the shark.
Four Percent Growth | The False Promise of Deficit Spending
“Austerity is out, growth is in.” This line — from a May 8 editorial in The San Francisco Chronicle — captures the change in economic vocabulary following the May elections in France and Greece. The new turn to the left in Europe is premised on a simple declaration: We are tired of austerity and we want to grow. That’s it.
CBO | Status of Discretionary Appropriations: FY 2013 Senate
Estimates of discretionary budget authority and outlays for fiscal year 2013.

Heritage Foundationh | Setting Obama’s “Great Fiscal Restraint Record” Straight
The Obama Administration is piggybacking on claims made by MarketWatch’s Rex Nutting that Obama has not gone on the spending spree everyone thinks he has since taking office. As White House press secretary Jay Carney puts it, President Obama has exercised “significant fiscal restraint” and “acted with great fiscal responsibility.”
CATO | Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Which President Is the Biggest Spender of All?
A financial columnist named Rex Nutting recently triggered a firestorm of controversy by claiming that Barack Obama is not a big spender.
National Review | Public-Sector Austerity vs. Private-Sector Austerity
For a few weeks I have been saying that pro-growth austerity imposes austerity on the public sector. That means reduction in government spending, reform of entitlements, reduction in the the rolls and salaries of government employees, and reduction of the government footprint in the private sector. Unfortunately, in most cases, governments would rather address their debt problems through an anti-growth version of austerity, meaning more taxes and more government intervention in our lives.