Tuesday, June 19, 2012

General Economics

Market Watch | Monday's Personal Finance Stories
Data suggest we’re seeing the start of a recovery in the U.S. housing market, yet every week we hear that mortgage interest rates remain at or near record lows. What’s the disconnect?
CNN Money | Wealth implosion: It's not just housing
Americans' net worth collapsed in recent years, but don't blame the housing market for it all.
National Journal | EPA: New Soot Standard Can Easily Be Met Because of Other Clean-Air Rules
A top Obama administration official said an air-pollution standard the Environmental Protection Agency proposed on Friday will be easily met by 99 percent of the country because of the suite of clean-air rules EPA has already finalized.
WSJ | Spain Back in Cross Hairs
The brief afterglow from Greece's vote Sunday to try to remain in the euro was quickly extinguished by a cascade of bad news out of Spain that again rattled faith in the currency bloc's ability to support its most troubled members.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obama is not doing fine
President Obama’s claim that “the private sector is doing fine” is sure to be repeated over and over and over again the next few months. And the White House will continue to argue that the president’s comments were taken out of context. That’s missing the point. The context is the problem.
WSJ | The Euro's Global Security Fallout
The crisis of the euro zone is a geopolitical as well as an economic event. While Europe may yet find a path out of its economic quagmire, it will turn inward for some time as it reorganizes some of its core institutions. The world will not stand still while this happens.
Politico | America must tap into Alaska’s Arctic oil
North Dakota has now overtaken Alaska in oil production, again demonstrating shale oil’s ascendance — and importance — in the nation’s oil supply. I lost a bet — and owe my North Dakota counterpart a salmon dinner.
AEI | The panic and money-market funds
To believe that the taxpayers are standing behind money-market funds is to endorse the underlying theory of the Dodd-Frank Act. The supposed instability of unregulated markets is the left's basis for regulating financial markets, including money-market funds.
Washington Times | Obama’s union bailout
We all know how the Obama administration likes to portray the auto bailout: A generous infusion of money enabled the government to save General Motors and Chrysler. Jobs that otherwise would have disappeared were rescued by this taxpayer-funded largesse. It was expensive, but we had no choice.
Washington Post | Avoiding a global catastrophe
Once again good news has had a half-life of less than 24 hours. Just as news of Spain’s bank bailout rallied markets for only a few hours, a Greek election outcome that was as good as could have been hoped did not buoy markets for even a day.
Smart Money | The Economic Police State
Taking a page from the United States, Argentina announced plans last week to stimulate its stagnant economy with no-cost housing loans. The idea is to boost growth by intervening in the supposedly "free" economy. It won't work.

WSJ | Vital Signs: Slowing U.S. Manufacturing
Factory activity in the U.S. has been slowing. Manufacturing output declined 0.4% in May from April, the second drop in three months. While output is still rising compared with a year ago, the rate of growth has slowed amid weakening demand for U.S. products overseas and a cooling domestic economy. That leaves the recovery more vulnerable to shocks from abroad.
Reason Foundation | Highway Construction As Stimulus? Not So Fast
President Obama is sending strong signals that he wants more stimulus spending to keep the American economy out of recession, even if the White House is not saying it explicitly. The president's "the private sector is fine" moment clearly emphasized a perceived need for state, local, and federal governments to increase spending to pick up the slack in an anemic economy.
WSJ | Home-Builder Confidence Hits Five-Year High
U.S. home builders’ sentiment increased in June to the highest level in more than five years, the latest in a series of encouraging signs for the housing market.
Bleeding Heart Libertarians | Factual Free-Market Fairness
To a discussion by political philosophers a mere fact woman like me, an economic historian trained in the 1960s as a transportation economist, has really only one thing to contribute.  It is, to slightly modify Cromwell’s imprecation to the Scottish Presbyterians in 1650, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be [factually] mistaken.”
National Review | Morning Outrage: Amtrak Edition
Via Gary Leff of View from the Wing: Amtrak is sending emails to inform customers that they will get a discount on their train tickets if they donate money to organizations that will then lobby for more Amtrak subsidies.
The American | A nation of takers: Are Americans getting more than they paid for?
On Wednesday, June 20, Nicholas Eberstadt of AEI will delineate the debt trend lines, exposing how over time, Americans have increasingly stuck their hands in the government “cookie jar,” voting for more benefits than they are willing to pay for.

Health Care

National Journal | Report: Top HHS Insurance Regulator Stepping Down
Steve Larsen, the man charged with implementing the myriad new insurance regulations in the 2010 health care law, will be leaving his post next month, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | Why Congress Should Not Preserve Flawed Obamacare Policies
The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as “Obamacare”). In anticipation of an unfavorable Court decision, liberals in Congress and elsewhere are arguing that a repeal of Obamacare would end reforms currently in effect and that these reforms enjoy broad popular support. But Congress should not fall into the trap of preserving bad policy.
Washington Post | The folly of Obamacare
We pay our presidents for judgment, and President Obama committed a colossal error of judgment in making health-care “reform” a centerpiece of his first term. Ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — and regardless of how the court decides — it’s clear that Obama overreached.


FOX News | Fed meets as many await possible help for economy
The Federal Reserve is meeting this week at a time of high alert — over the slumping U.S. economy, the aftermath of the Greek elections and the shaky financial markets.
Market Watch | Fed expected to twist again
The Federal Reserve is likely to extend its Operation Twist program at the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday, a growing number of Fed watchers said over the weekend.
WSJ | Fed Wrestles With How Best to Bridge U.S. Credit Divide
The U.S. recovery is hobbled by an economic divide that separates Americans not by income or wealth but by their access to credit.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | IMF report urges Europe action on growth
Europe should leave no stone unturned to encourage economic growth, according to a new report released Monday by the International Monetary Fund.
Real Clear Markets | Germany Will Decide If the Euro Survives the Summer
Germany alone will have to decide. I don't know which way the decision will go. I do know that a decision needs to come quickly. If it doesn't, the euro will not survive the summer.
Market Watch | ECB battens down the hatches
Amid the narrowest of victories for Greece’s New Democracy party and ahead of much financial market nail-biting, the European Central Bank is battening down the hatches.

Economist | Shiny, new, unopened & unused
So what will they do? Much of the street expects some kind of action, a view I share. It would probably come as an extension of “Operation Twist,” the purchase of longer-term bonds in exchange for short or medium bonds already in the Fed’s portfolio. It could stretch this out over a few months or a full year. 
Library of Economics | Krugman on Inflation
What actually happened in the 80s was, quite literally, a confirmation of the validity of textbook Keynesian economics.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | Sales Taxes and Internet Commerce
We estimate the sensitivity of Internet retail purchasing to sales taxes using data from the eBay marketplace. Our first approach exploits the fact that seller locations are revealed only after buyers have expressed interest in an item by clicking on its listing.
The American | Here’s How to Replace the Income Tax
Alan Viard discusses the benefits of junking the income tax system in favor of a progressive consumption tax.


NY Times | Lost in Recession, Toll on Underemployed and Underpaid
Throughout the Great Recession and the not-so-great recovery, the most commonly discussed measure of misery has been unemployment. But many middle-class and working-class people who are fortunate enough to have work are struggling as well, which is why Sherry Woods, a 59-year-old van driver from Atlanta, found herself standing in line at a jobs fair this month, with her résumé tucked inside a Bible.
USA Today | Grim job prospects could scar today's college graduates
Megan Silsby earned a biology degree last month from Virginia Tech, and she considers herself a full-time worker even though she hasn't landed a job in this rough economy.

Political Calculations | Really? Unexpected? Again?!
Back in August 2010, we became concerned that the professional U.S. news media really were being caught with their pants down far too often when reporting economic news, which they were perpetually describing as "unexpected".
The American | Where the energy jobs are
A new report by IHS Global Insight shows where the real energy jobs are, and it’s not in the renewables.


Bloomberg | Fiscal-Cliff Concerns Hurting Economy as Companies Hold Back
Companies are starting to delay hiring and spending out of concern that Congress won’t reach a compromise in time to avoid automatic tax increases and budget cuts that would pull billions of dollars of purchasing power out of the economy.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Barrons | Watch Out!
For years, politicians and retirees could safely ignore the crisis facing America's Social Security system. The problems lay in a distant, hazy future, far beyond the next Election Day and the next round of golf. That is now changing; the ground is starting to shake.