Thursday, June 7, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | Mortgage rates sink to new record low
Mortgage rates have fallen to a new record low, according to Freddie Mac, and the stagnant economy is to blame.
Market Watch | J.P. Morgan loss drives battle over bank rules
Lawmakers quarreled Wednesday with regulators on Capitol Hill over the implications of losses of more than $2 billion by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. last month, and how Washington can ensure a big Lehman-like bank failure doesn’t cause create another financial crisis.
WSJ | Labor Faces New Challenge
Organized labor, reeling from blows to government workers in Wisconsin and California elections, is grappling with the prospect of diminished political clout and fewer members in public-sector unions that have formed the core of the movement's power in recent years.
Market Watch | For Asia, U.S. more vital than Europe: Moody's
If the financial stresses in Europe jump the fence to the U.S., then the impact upon Asia could be greatly magnified, according to the ratings agency Moody's, which looked at various implications if policy markers lose their grip on the euro zone's darkening financial situation.
CNN Money | 10 fastest-growing states
These states experienced the fastest growth rates in 2011, which was a mediocre year for economic expansion across the nation.
FOX Business | Fitch: U.S. Rating Could Suffer in 2013 Without Credible Plan
Fitch Ratings reiterated on Thursday it would cut its sovereign credit rating for the United States next year if Washington cannot come to grips with its deficits and create a "credible" fiscal consolidation plan.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | Who lost Greece?
A relatively insignificant southern European country threatens the very survival of the euro in its present form. How did we get here, and what lessons does Greece hold for the rest of the European periphery?
WSJ | Crony Capitalism and the Crisis of the West
As Greece sinks toward a financial abyss—and Portugal, Italy and Spain sit on the edge—can we in the United States consider ourselves safe?
Real Clear Markets | How the U.S. Can Escape the Pending Economic Black Hole
It has been remarked that bond yields have recently priced in a "Lehman type" event, yet no such event has occurred. But that is to misconstrue both what happened in 2008 and what is going on now.
Washington Times | Failure to stimulate
There’s nothing stimulating about the current state of the global economy. Job creation is on the decline in the United States, and the European Union is in the third year of a worsening debt crisis. Growth is nowhere to be found on either side of the Atlantic.
Bloomberg | Booming Sweden’s Free-Market Solution
Not so long ago, Sweden could claim world leadership in unmitigated Keynesian economics, with a 90 percent marginal tax rate and a welfare state second to none.
WSJ | Hollande's First Step Backward
French President Fran├žois Hollande made good Wednesday on his campaign pledge to lower France's minimum retirement age to 60 from 62. The 2010 law that lifted the retirement age was Nicolas Sarkozy's most important domestic-policy achievement, and it was sold as a way to keep France's public spending under control amid the Continent's then-burgeoning debt crisis.
NBER | The Evolving Importance of Banks and Securities Markets
This paper examines the evolving importance of banks and securities markets during the process of economic development.

The American | Here’s why it feels like the Great Recession never ended
This chart from Action Economics shows three different measures of compensation: average hourly earnings, the employment cost index for wages and salaries, and hourly compensation.
Library of Economics | Do Economists Study Money?
Non-economists often think that "economists study money." The reality, though, is that most academic economists hardly think about money at all.
WSJ | Top Executive CPAs More Worried About Economy
Certified public accountants serving as senior financial officers are more worried about the U.S. economic outlook, according to a study released Thursday.
The American | One important unintended consequence to bigger and bigger government
The more powerful government is, the more incentive there is for special interest groups to influence it for their own, narrow benefit

Health Care

National Journal | Report: Health Care Spending Super Slow for Fourth-Straight Year
New numbers from the Altarum Institute show that the country is on track for a fourth year of historically low increases in health care spending.
National Journal | DeMint Argues Against Preserving Under-26 Coverage Requirement
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has published an opinion essay urging his colleagues not to preserve the popular requirement that health insurers cover adults under 26 on their parents' policies.


WSJ | Some Good News From Zimbabwe, for a Change
At a summit in Luanda, Angola, last weekend, the Southern African Development Community rejected Robert Mugabe's plan to call snap elections and jettison Zimbabwe's 2008 power-sharing agreement.
Bloomberg | China Reduces Interest Rates for First Time Since 2008
China cut borrowing costs for the first time since 2008 and loosened controls on banks’ lending and deposit rates, stepping up efforts to combat a deepening slowdown as Europe’s debt crisis threatens global growth.
WSJ | Officials Say Fed May Need to Act
A trio of Federal Reserve officials warned of risks to the health of the U.S. recovery and said the central bank might need to take new actions to support economic growth.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Fed's Yellen sees possibility of more stimulus
Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen has reiterated her view that further action by the central bank might be necessary to stimulate the sputtering U.S. economy.
CATO | Beginning of the End for the Euro?
The euro was introduced as part of the Stability and Growth Pact of 1999, which also prescribed clear fiscal guidelines for member nations to limit public debts and deficits, and ensure the economic stability needed for the European Central Bank's conduct of a common European monetary policy.

CATO | The Fed’s Dilemma
Chairman Bernanke will be testifying on Thursday, June 7th before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. His testimony comes against a background of gloomy economic data. The U.S. economy grew at just a 1.9-percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2012.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Taxmaggedon showdown
Americans will be hit with $4.5 trillion in new taxes within six months. Unless Washington does something to stop it, “taxmaggedon” will have a devastating impact on the economy. President Obama is counting on it.


WSJ | Trading Issues Spurred Changes in Labor Dept. Jobs-Data Release
A Department of Labor official said planned changes in the release of the U.S. jobs report are aimed at addressing complications that have arisen as media companies have jockeyed to deliver the data to high-speed traders.
Washington Times | Fed survey finds U.S. growth, hiring mostly steady
A Federal Reserve survey found that the U.S. economy grew moderately in most regions of the country this spring and companies kept hiring. It was a hopeful sign after a spate of gloomy data released last week.
Washington Times | Exxon Mobil move to Texas to cost northern Virginia 2,100 jobs
One of Northern Virginia’s largest employers is leaving, as Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. announced Wednesday it is transferring all 2,100 employees at its northern Fairfax campus to Houston.
USA Today | Albertsons will lay off 2,500 in southern Calif. and Nevada
Albertsons will lay off as many as 2,500 employees at 247 Southern California and southern Nevada supermarkets beginning June 17, the supermarket chain announced Wednesday.
CNN Money | 22,000 applicants for 877 Hyundai jobs
When Hyundai announced in April it was planning to bring hundreds of new jobs to Montgomery, Ala., the news was met with excitement by local officials eager to boost the flagging economy.
Market Watch | Initial weekly U.S. jobless claims fall to 377,000
The number of initial applicants filing for unemployment benefits declined last week, the government reported Thursday, but jobless claims remained at a level consistent with mediocre hiring trends.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Unions and Economic Mobility: Is There a Link?
Governor Scott Walker's victory in Wisconsin on Tuesday is bad news for public sector unions, the only growing sector of organized labor.


NY Times | Crop Insurance Proposal Could Cost U.S. Billions
At the same time that high crop prices are prompting farmers to expand into millions of acres of land once considered unsuitable for farming, Congress is considering expanding a federal insurance program that reimburses farmers for most losses or drops in prices.
CNN Money | Spain debt auction seen as a success
Spain found strong demand for its debt in a successful auction Thursday, two days after its treasury minister warned that the country was in danger of being shut out of markets for the cash it needs to operate.
Politico | Secret talks under way about 'fiscal cliff'
A growing number of lawmakers are alarmed that Congress’s do-nothing posture ahead of the year-end fiscal cliff could provoke a massive voter backlash and economic catastrophe if they don’t start laying the groundwork right now to cut a deal.
CNN Money | Huge government pension gap sparks backlash
Pensions and other retirement benefits have become a multi-trillion-dollar black hole for state and local government budgets, sparking fierce battles between elected officials and voters on one side and public sector unions on the other.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | Changes in CBO's Baseline Projections Since January 2001
Each year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issues baseline projections of federal spending and revenues for the following 10 years. Those projections are not intended as a forecast of future outcomes; rather, they are estimates of spending and revenues under the laws that are in effect at that time and are designed to provide a benchmark against which to measure future policy changes.

National Review | Yes, Public-sector Austerity Can Work
Today is a good day. Two separate media stories have acknowledged that public sector austerity — meaning spending cuts rather than tax increases — can actually bring debt-to-GDP levels down, and it may even produce economic growth.