Friday, June 1, 2012

General Economics

Washington Times | 30-year mortgage rate falls to record 3.75 percent
Average U.S. rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgages dropped to record lows again this week, with the 15-year loan dipping below 3 percent for the first time ever.
Bloomebrg | Global Growth Heads for Lull as Europe Output Shrinks
The world economy is heading for its third straight mid-year lull after manufacturing output shrank in Europe and slowed in China, leaving the U.S. under pressure to drive global growth.
WSJ | Student Debt Rises by 8% as College Tuitions Climb
Americans are borrowing more to pay for college while reducing other debt as a weak job market prompts more people to go to school and tuition keeps climbing, new Federal Reserve Bank of New York data show.
CNN Money | 10-year yield hits record low (again!)
The yield dropped to 1.58% Thursday, down from from Wednesday's record low close of 1.62%. Investors have been flocking to bonds in both the U.S. and overseas as Europe's debt crisis and a slowing U.S. economy has investors on edge.
Politico | Environmental activists attack crop insurance industry
Armed with new data and an old playbook, environmentalists are taking aim at the crop insurance industry, seeking to bolster the case for a cap on premium subsidies when the Senate farm bill hits the floor in June.
CNN Money | Federal government unloads real estate
The federal government, the nation's top property owner, said Thursday that it is on track to save $8 billion by the end of the fiscal year by consolidating its real estate holdings and selling off the excess.
WSJ | Asia Strains Under Euro Crisis
The economies of Asia, both the emerging markets and the more developed countries, are being hit by a double whammy of slowing domestic growth and the impact of the European debt crisis on Asian exports and finance.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | John Taylor: Rules for America's Road to Recovery
America's economic future is increasingly uncertain. In my view, unpredictable economic policy—massive fiscal "stimulus" and ballooning debt, the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing with multiyear near-zero interest rates, and regulatory uncertainty due to ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms—is the main cause of persistent high unemployment and our feeble recovery from the recession.
Washington Times | Obama’s economic myopia
The government says the economy is weakening yet again and unemployment claims are rising, but President Obama is going about business as usual.
AEI | Too big for comfort
America needs to break up its biggest banks, but not for reasons likely to give a tingle to Occupy Wall Street’s remnant rabble (or its Great Everywhere Spirit, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts). This isn’t about some political exercise in election-year demonization.
Market Watch | U.S. savings rate drops to four-year low in April
The savings rate for U.S. households slipped in April to match its lowest level in four years as spending grew faster than incomes, the Commerce Department estimated Friday.
WSJ | Bank-Bailout Lessons
In Europe's endless crisis, the latest focus is Spain's banks. Some €31 billion in deposits fled Spanish lenders in April, the second largest monthly capital flight from Spain in the euro era.
Heritage Foundation | Ten Actions Congress Can Take to Lower Gas Prices
Heritage Foundation energy policy analyst Nicolas Loris suggests there are at least 10 actions that Congress can take to remove barriers to oil production and supply, and to stimulate economic growth and job creation in both the near and long term.

Economist | Third time unlucky
The story of the American recovery is one of constant disappointment: two steps taken forward, followed inevitably by one step back. After a return to job growth in early 2010, trouble from Europe dampened American expectations and led to a summer swoon, to which the Federal Reserve ultimately responded with more monetary easing.
Minyanville | When Will the Economy Recover?
Anyone can hold their breath for a minute when they’re 10 feet underwater, yet a person will drown in six inches of water if he’s face-down long enough. The same can be said of our current economic climate; it’s not the depth of the recession that matters, it’s the length.
Think Markets | Euro Crisis from Long Perspective
The European crisis, in progress for years and still showing no sign of resolution, is largely the result of elite hubris.
WSJ | U.S. Savings Rate Falling Amid Stagnant Incomes
The government made a sharp downward revision to fourth-quarter income figures Thursday, a sign of stagnant wages and a potential hurdle for consumer spending.

Health Care

National Journal | Health Costs Slow For Fourth Year, Study Finds
Health costs will rise just 7.5 percent in 2013, according to projections released on Thursday by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and employers who are trying to cut health expenses are contributing a fair amount to these savings.
National Journal | Lame-Duck Nightmare: The Doc Fix Implodes
Health care has had a starring role in Congress over the past five years. So you might think that the lobbyists and advocacy groups representing the health care industry would be relieved that the lame-duck session promises to be dominated by tax policy.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Will Markets Wake Up to the Folly of Monetary Intervention?
Since the panic days just after Lehman Brothers in September 2008 through September 2011, the Swiss franc had gained almost a third compared to the euro. It was an epic move that had gained steam in mid-2011 as the renewed crisis over Greece and the PIIGS threatened further instability in the Eurozone.

CATO | Getting Cato – and Fed Ed Policy – Right
Yes, education analysts at Cato like school choice. But we’re also big fans of federalism and the Constitution, and when it comes to federal policy those things must come first.


CNN Money | Estate tax increase: Forgotten fiscal cliff issue
The estate tax was here. Then it was gone. Now it's back. And it's about to become much bigger next year.


Washington Times | Filings for unemployment aid at a 5-week high
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to a five-week high, evidence that the job market remains sluggish.
CNN Money | Eurozone unemployment at record high 11%
The 17-nation eurozone's unemployment rate reached the highest level since the creation of the common currency 13 years ago, climbing to 11% in April as employers slashed 110,000 jobs.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | How to Put a Waitress Out of Work
It's an election year, which means there's no shortage of legislative proposals that appeal to the heart rather than the head. A recent example is Sen. Tom Harkin's Rebuild America Act.

CATO | More Sub-Par Employment Numbers
The Labor Department just released its monthly employment report and the White House is probably not happy.
WSJ | Vital Signs: Fewer Help-Wanted Ads
The number of help-wanted ads posted online fell in May. Total U.S. job vacancies on the Internet slipped by nearly 1% from April to 4.72 million, the Conference Board said.


National Journal | Where Is Congress With Appropriations?
Both the House and the Senate appropriations committees are off to strong starts in the appropriations process for fiscal 2013. Will both chambers pass all 12 major bills before the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30? Probably not.
WSJ | Irish Voters Seen Passing European Union Fiscal Pact
Ireland headed to the polls Thursday for a vote on the European Union's fiscal treaty, designed to bring financial stability to the euro zone by binding countries to tougher rules on balancing their budgets. The treaty was expected to win approval handily, with voter turnout estimated at about 50%.
Bloomberg | U.S. Employers Add 69,000 Jobs, Fewer Than Forecast
American employers in May added the fewest workers in a year and the unemployment rate unexpectedly increased as job-seekers re-entered the workforce, further evidence that the labor-market recovery is stalling.
WSJ | Spain Says It Has Months to Raise Bank-Rescue Funds
Spain's government says it has until at least October to raise the funds it needs for the €19 billion ($23.5 billion) rescue of lender Bankia SA, a move government officials hope will let Madrid pick the right moment to raise funds from financial markets and explore other funding options as it aims to avoid an international bailout.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Austerity With Growth? Easy To Achieve, But Witless Politicians Don't Know How
Now Europe’s leaders say they want “austerity with growth.” Sounds nice. They have no clue as to how to achieve it.

CATO | Looking at Austerity in Spain
Spain is perhaps the weakest link in the Eurozone after Greece. Almost a quarter of its labor force is unemployed; its banking system is extremely vulnerable and it might collapse anytime; housing prices haven’t yet returned to normalcy after the burst of its real estate bubble; and the economy is in its second recession in two years and it’s expected to contract further in 2012 and maybe even in 2013.