Tuesday, May 29, 2012

General Economics

FOX Business | OPEC Output Hits Highest Level Since 2008, Survey Finds
OPEC output in May has hit its highest since 2008 as Saudi Arabia maintained high production rates despite a drop in prices and Iranian shipments did not fall substantially further ahead of an EU embargo, a Reuters survey found on Tuesday.
CNN Money | Postal Service offers $15,000 buyouts to 45,000 mail handlers
The U.S. Postal Service is offering buyouts to 45,000 mail handlers, part of the struggling agency's efforts to shed staff and cut costs.
Market Watch | Canadian bank’s stress-test pro talks Europe
What happens if the euro zone unravels, with Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain all leaving at the same time as political gridlock drives the U.S. off a fiscal cliff? What if China were no longer willing to fund the U.S. deficit and there was a dramatic 40% decline in the U.S. dollar?
CNN Money | Summer gas prices - as good as they'll get
As the summer driving season gets underway, most Americans are enjoying lower gas prices than they might have expected when the spring began.
Bloomberg | Greek Euro Exit Aftershocks Risk Reaching China
Greece, responsible for 0.4 percent of the world economy, now poses a threat to international prosperity as investors raise bets its days using the euro are numbered.
CNN Money | China paying billions for oil deals in the Americas
Eager to feed its growing energy appetite, China's worldwide buying binge for oil and other energy assets is spreading to North and South America.
FOX News | Home prices rise in most major US cities
Home prices rose in March from February in most major U.S. cities for the first time in seven months. The increase is the latest evidence of a slow recovery taking shape in the housing market.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Reagan Memo
Nearby today readers will notice excerpts from a memo written to Ronald Reagan by his economic advisers between his November 1980 election and inauguration. We share the memo because it shines a historical perspective on our own economic dilemmas as the Presidential race hits its Memorial Day turn.
NBER | The Evolution of Income, Consumption, and Leisure Inequality in The US, 1980-2010
Recent research has documented that income inequality in the United States has increased dramatically over the prior three decades. There has been less of a consensus, however, on whether the increase in income inequality was matched by an equally large increase in consumption inequality.
CBO | Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from January 2012 Through March 2012
As required by law, CBO prepares regular reports on its estimate of the number of jobs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which was enacted in response to significant weakness in the economy. In its latest report issued this afternoon, CBO provides estimates of ARRA’s impact on employment and economic output in the first quarter of calendar year 2012, as well as over the entire period since February 2009.

CATO | New Study from UK Think Tank Shows How Big Government Undermines Prosperity
It seems I was put on the planet to educate people about the negative economic impact of excessive government. I must be doing a bad job, because the burden of the public sector keeps rising.
Calculated Risk | Unofficial Problem Bank list increases to 931 Institutions
As expected, this week the FDIC released the Official Problem Bank List through March 2012 and it enforcement actions through April 2012. For the week, there were nine removals and 12 additions
WSJ | More Economists React: What if Greece Exits Euro Zone?
Greece may or may not leave, and there’s a huge range of potential policy responses. So, making allowances for some guesswork, from U.S. political upheaval to a knock-on effect for Mexican bonds, here’s a rundown of the latest on some economists’ and analysts’ views on what could happen next.
Calculated Risk | Schedule for Week of May 27th
The key report this week is the May employment report to be released on Friday.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Improvised Explosive Device Tax
'Taxmageddon' isn't only about the half-trillion-dollar blow to the economy that arrives in 2013 on the end of the Bush-Obama tax rates. Several of the Affordable Care Act's worst tax increases kick in too, such as the new excise tax on medical devices.

Heritage Foundation | Pictures of America’s Medicare Mess
In “Medicare at Risk: Visualizing the Need for Reform,” Heritage’s Kathryn Nix and John Fleming illustrate the facts about Medicare and why Washington must come to the rescue with innovative solutions to preserve the program today and into the future.


WSJ | Powell Sworn In As Member of Fed Board
Jerome Powell was sworn in Friday as a member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, the central bank said in a statement.
Bloomberg | Dollar Scarce as Top-Quality Assets Shrink 42%
The dollar is proving scarce, even after the Federal Reserve flooded the financial system with an extra $2.3 trillion, as the amount of the highest-quality assets available worldwide shrinks.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Seeing Is Not Believing at Today's Fed
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's new policy of openness has much to recommend it, in that it gives the markets information about current and future monetary policy that removes some of the guesswork of years past. But now that traders and investors have better insights into the thinking of Fed policy makers, they don't seem to be acting on that knowledge. Seeing is not believing, apparently.


National Journal | Cantor Presses for Bush Tax-Cut Deal Soon
With the George W. Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, House Republicans are planning on taking the matter into their own hands. Instead of waiting until the lame-duck session, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says they need to take the matter head on.
CNN Money | Payroll tax cut in its last lap?
The payroll tax cut you've enjoyed since last year may be going away in January.
National Journal | Gas Taxes Remain Steady in the Face of Falling Prices
With gas prices leveling out in some parts of the country and falling in many others, drivers out on the road this Memorial Day weekend will no doubt rejoice. But while what the drivers will be spending overall might be less compared with recent days and weeks, what they will be paying in state and federal excise gas taxes will remain the same.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | What's Right With Kansas
France's new President wants to impose a 75% tax rate, and Washington is headed for a huge tax cliff in January, but some enlightenment reigns in the American heartland.


NY Times | U.S. Winds Down Longer Benefits for the Unemployed
Hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans are receiving their final unemployment checks sooner than they expected, even though Congress renewed extended benefits until the end of the year.
USA Today | Many unemployed facing early end to benefits
More than 100,000 Americans out of work longer than a year in six states and Washington, D.C., are expected to lose their unemployment checks this summer, pushing the total cut off this year to more than 500,000.


WSJ | $1.6 Billion Budget Cut Passed for Illinois Gap
Illinois is taking steps toward plugging one of the nation's worst fiscal gaps, with state lawmakers passing deep cuts to Medicaid and considering a tax increase for cigarettes to cover a $2.7 billion shortfall in the state and federal health program for the needy, disabled and elderly.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The History Boys
Riffing on the re-election trail, President Obama often tells crowds that "We've got to move forward to the future we imagined in 2008." An imaginary future from the past—got it. Then there's the imaginary history of the past that Mr. Obama has been recounting lately, when his first-term spending and debt boom never happened.
Washington Times | Spending lies run into facts
Many in the political class, including President Obama and many members of Congress, have an interest in confusing, rather than enlightening, the public.
AEI | Cut to grow
Austerity measures in Europe have been the topic of a heated and mostly confused debate in the economic world. During the May summit of the leading industrial nations at Camp David, German chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders pushed for continued European austerity. Keynesian critics argue that these policies destroy economic growth.

National Review | Fact-Checking Obama on Spending
Something really strange is happening in Washington these days: The same people who are always arguing that the only way to boost economic growth is to spend and spend and spend are also the ones bragging about President Obama’s record, wait for it, as the smallest spender of all presidents.