Friday, June 8, 2012

General Economics

Market Watch | Households cut debt again in first quarter
American households cut their overall debt again in the first quarter and saw a $2.8 trillion increase in net wealth owing to stock-market gains — gains that have since evaporated.
CNBC | Global Stall Speed? Imports, Exports Both Post Declines
The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in April as global demand faltered, with both imports and exports dropping from record high levels set in March, a government report showed on Friday.
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.
WSJ | Japan's Economy Grew Faster Than Estimated
Japan's economy grew more strongly than previously estimated in the January-March quarter, but a smaller-than-expected rise in the current account in April suggests the good times may not continue.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Europe in denial
Time is running out for Europe. As Spain’s banking crisis deepens, politicians on the continent remain in denial. The only solutions in their mind involve borrowing or subsidies from German taxpayers.
NBER | Would You Buy a Honda Made in the U.S.? The Impact of Production Location on Manufacturing Quality
Using a unique data set of over 565,000 used-car transactions at wholesale auctions, we test whether the long-run value and quality of otherwise identical cars depends on the country of assembly.
CNBC | Fed's Rosengren Warns on Growing Economic Risks
Risks to the world's economic and financial outlook are again growing and affecting the behavior of households and businesses, a top U.S. Federal Reserve official said on Thursday.
Forbes | The Ongoing Disgrace That Is Obamanomics
President Obama has led America into an accelerating downward spiral.  Destination: Argentina.  Last Friday’s calamitous jobs report was just a signpost on the way.

Heritage Foundation | Bernanke’s Message to Congress: Your Turn for Good Economic Policy
The stock market rose Wednesday in anticipation of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks Thursday. Traders sold Treasury bonds and bought stocks, hoping Bernanke would announce a new monetary stimulus.
Economist | Recoveries and lost decades
Earlier this week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its advance estimate for state-level GDP growth in 2011. For most of the country, 2011 brought decent though not outstanding growth.
WSJ | Companies Sitting on Much Less Cash Than First Thought
That record pile of idle corporate cash turns out to be much smaller than previously believed. Half a trillion dollars smaller.
WSJ | Vital Signs: Turning Less Productive
The economy turned less productive during the first quarter. Nonfarm business productivity, the output per hour of all workers, fell at a 0.9% annual rate in January through March, the biggest slide in a year.

Health Care

CNN Money | Young adults skip health care as medical debts rise
Millions of young adults are forgoing necessary care and treatment because of rising health care costs, a report said Friday.
Market Watch | Fed ready to act if stresses mount: Bernanke
The Federal Reserve stands ready to act to protect the financial system and the economy in the event that stresses from the European crisis escalate, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday.


CNN Money | Fed proposal would boost bank safety cushions
The Federal Reserve on Thursday proposed tough new rules to require banks to hold even more in reserves as a capital buffer to better withstand future financial crises.
Bloomberg | Steepest Global Slide Since Recession Pushes Rate Cuts
Monetary-policy makers from around the world are being pressed into action to shore up a global economy that is suffering its steepest slowdown since the recession ended in 2009.
Market Watch | Fed ready to act if stresses mount: Bernanke
The Federal Reserve stands ready to act to protect the financial system and the economy in the event that stresses from the European crisis escalate, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday.
USA Today | Bernanke says Fed ready to do more, but nothing imminent
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Thursday that he expects the economy to grow moderately this year despite last week's disappointing report on May job growth.
WSJ | Bank Sees Stronger Euro After Greece, Others Exit
The crisis in the euro zone will likely force some countries to "bite the bullet" and leave the euro while a stronger core of central European countries will continue to use the currency, said the global head of the Bank of Nova Scotia's foreign exchange business.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Smart Money | Why Everyone Still Wants Dollars
We all know why the dollar has just had its best month for the year. As any pundit will tell you, talk of a euro-zone breakup is driving nervous investors into the "safety" and "liquidity" of the world's dominant reserve and commercial currency.

WSJ | Bernanke Keeps Options Open
Asked whether the Fed is planning more action to boost growth, Mr. Bernanke say he and his colleagues “are still working” on that question ahead of its June 19-20 meeting.
WSJ | Congressman to Bernanke: Take QE3 Off the Table
Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas), warned Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke not to authorize a third round of quantitative easing, saying the central bank had already done “too much” and could be fueling future inflation.
Minyanville | Is the Fed Losing Control of the Dollar?
So here we are again, trying to weigh the significance of the US economic slowdown as it pertains to the upcoming Federal Reserve rate meeting on June 19-20 and ongoing Fed policy action.
WSJ | DeMint Says Bernanke Giving Congress ‘False Sense of Security’
Echoing a concern of Tea Party supporters, Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) said the Federal Reserve’s policy of buying up U.S. government debt is giving Congress a “false sense of security” by keeping interest rates and government borrowing costs low.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | Kill estate tax, unlock assets to help economy
A crisis of tax policy is expected at the end of this year, when a bundle of deferred decisions and bills all come due at once. Tax writers, while grappling with the federal deficit, must also confront a slew of scheduled tax rate increases, as the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cuts expire and temporary fixes end.
WSJ | A Bipartisan Tax Repeal
Bipartisanship arrived in Washington on Thursday, not that many in the media will hail it. That's because the sweet harmony involved a 270-146 House vote to repeal ObamaCare's 2.3% excise tax on medical devices.

Heritage Foundation | Taxmageddon Veto? Obama’s Recent History Suggests Otherwise
It is curious that President Obama continues to oppose a full extension of the Bush tax cuts. Two years ago he was in a similar position, and wisely chose to reverse course. For the sake of the economy, one can only hope he does so again.


Daily Finance | Initial Jobless Claims Fall for First Time Since April
The number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits fell last week for the first time since April, a hint that a slowdown in hiring last month may only be temporary.
WSJ | Jobless Rates Jump in France, Greece
The highest jobless rate in France in a decade and a record unemployment rate in Greece underscored the real economic impact the debt crisis is having on Europe's big and small economies alike.

National Review | What Counts as a Green Job?
Green jobs are everywhere, from antique shops to school buses!


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Bernanke's Cliffhanger
Everyone is suddenly waking up to the horrors of the "fiscal cliff" that arrives on January 1, 2013, but the real clear and present danger keeps getting misdiagnosed. It's the taxes, not the spending.

WSJ | Bernanke Comments on ‘Austerity’ Policies
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D., N.Y.) sounded a theme that is increasingly popular among Democrats: the idea that Republicans are pursuing “austerity” policies similar to those being pushed in Europe.
The American | Bernanke, the U.S. debt, and one of my favorite charts
From Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony today: “Fiscal policy must be placed on a sustainable path that eventually results in a stable or declining ratio of federal debt to GDP.”
WSJ | Consumer Debt Growth Slows
U.S. consumer credit grew at a slower pace than expected in April while March figures were revised downwards, the latest indications of headwinds facing the U.S. economy.