Monday, June 25, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | Gas prices down 6% this month
Amid the global economic gloom, there's a ray of sunshine for summertime motorists in the U.S.: The price of gas has dropped 6% over the last month.
CNN Money | 28% of Americans have no emergency savings
Most Americans don't have nearly enough money stashed away for emergencies and more than one-in-four don't even have a single penny saved.
CNN Money | Economists give Obama and Congress a 'D'
When it comes to handling the economy, neither Obama nor Congress make the grade.
WSJ | China, U.S. Sign $3.4 Billion in Deals
Companies from China and the U.S. on Saturday signed a total of $3.4 billion in bilateral investment projects, as the world's two biggest economies seek to boost trade and investment.
CNN Money | Government wants more people on food stamps
More than one in seven Americans are on food stamps, but the federal government wants even more people to sign up for the safety net program.
Market Watch | Citi cuts China's 2012 growth outlook to 7.8%
Citi on Monday cut its 2012 China growth forecast to 7.8% from 8.1% previously, saying the move reflects slower domestic growth in the second quarter and a further weakening of conditions in the European Union.
CNN Money | U.S. cuts greenhouse gases despite do-nothing Congress
A curious thing is happening to the air in the United States. It's getting cleaner.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NY Times | Old vs. Young
Draw it at the age of 65, 50 or 40. Wherever the line is, the people on either side of it end up looking very different, both economically and politically.
Washington Times | U.S. still stuck in recession
This latest recession started in December 2007. Since the Great Depression 75 years ago, recessions in America have lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest previously lasting 16 months, not counting this latest spooky downturn.
WSJ | Smearing Small Business
On the eve of the Supreme Court's ruling on ObamaCare, and with the Justices now presumably beyond political pressure, the liberal intimidation campaign has moved on to other targets. The latest is the small business lobby for having dared to join 26 states in challenging the law.
Motley Fool | The Most Important Numbers of the Next Half-Century
In 1991, former MIT dean Lester Thurow wrote: "If one looks at the last 20 years, Japan would have to be considered the betting favorite to win the economy honors of owning the 21st century."
Washington Post | The sources of the global economic stalemate
We live in a world of broken models. To understand why world leaders can’t easily fix the sputtering global economy, you have to realize that the economic models on which the United States, Europe and China relied are collapsing.
WSJ | Corporate Pensions Need Relief
Pension plans measure their liabilities by applying a discount, or interest, rate that is prescribed by law. The lower the discount rate, the more they will have to contribute to fund their plans.
NY Times | A Georgia Town Takes the People’s Business Private
If your image of a city hall involves a venerable building, some Roman pillars and lots of public employees, the version offered by this Atlanta suburb of 94,000 residents is a bit of a shocker.
WSJ | The Dodd-Frank Downgrade
We've never put much stock in the judgment of credit-ratings agencies. But by issuing a series of downgrades of giant banks this week, Moody's Investors Service may have performed a taxpayer service.
Atlantic | The Economic History of the Last 2000 Years: Part II
The graph above is an economic history of the world, after 1 AD, from a research letter written by Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at JP Morgan.

Calculated Risk | Unofficial Problem Bank list increases to 921 Institutions
Quiet week for the Unofficial Problem Bank List with three additions and one removal. The changes leave the list with 921 institutions with assets of $354.6 billion, up for the second consecutive week.
National Review | Green Energy Loans: Beyond the Solyndra Drama
I testified before Congress earlier this week about the Section 1705 loan guarantee program of the Department of Energy. That’s the loan program that guaranteed $538 million in loans for the now-bankrupt energy company Solyndra.
Library of Economics | Eurozone Crisis: what is the solution?
The problem is that some governments and some banks are insolvent. When a financial institution is insolvent, its liabilities must be taken over by a solvent institution. The solvent institution gets to set the price, which typically is a discount.
Calculated Risk | Schedule for Week of June 24th
The key US economic reports this week are May New Home Sales on Monday, April Case-Shiller house prices on Tuesday, and the May Personal Income and Outlays report on Friday.

Health Care

FOX Business | Health-Care Ruling: Who Wins, Who Loses
It’s not just the Obama Administration that has so much at stake over the Supreme Court’s looming decision over the constitutionality of health-care reform.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Global Governments' Growing Embrace of Big Pharma
As the pharmaceutical industry wrestles with multiple existential threats-from price controls to patent cliffs to dwindling pipelines-calls are growing for deeper government-industry cooperation. As private investors flee, the guiding hand and bottomless pockets of government technocrats are somehow supposed to conjure up the twin genies of innovation and efficiency.
Washington Times | A regulatory drug shortage
The last thing a sick person wants to hear is that ample supplies of a life-saving medicine have been replaced by a surplus of red tape. That’s precisely what’s happening nationwide, with 82 percent of hospitals reporting shortages so severe that treatment must be put on hold, according to the American Hospital Association.

Heritage Foundation | Top Five Reasons Obamacare Is Bad for Doctors
The Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision is expected next week, but it’s important to remember that the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate isn’t the only concern. Several surveys have revealed that doctors have a negative view of the law and its impact on the practice of medicine.
Marginal Revolution | Yana reviews the new John Goodman book
While it is impossible that any entrepreneur will devise an overarching solution for our healthcare problems we have forgotten how to let process innovators test solutions and chip away at problems the way they do to roaring success in other industries.


Bloomberg | Central Banks Commit to Ease as Threat of Lost Decades Rises
Central bankers are finding it easier to support their economies than to spur expansion as the prospect of Japanese-like lost decades looms across the developed world.
Bloomberg | Central Banks Face Limits of Power as Crisis Persists
Central banks in developed nations are confronting the limits of their ability to aid economic recovery as government efforts to strengthen their finances fall short, the Bank for International Settlements said.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Buy Now, Pay Later: How the Fed's Tinkering Created A Global Crisis
Watching the ongoing catastrophe in Europe, with America and Japan not far behind, it’s difficult to know whether to cry, or laugh. The most “rational” people in the world are doing the most irrational things imaginable… But why?
Forbes | Economic Forensics: Who Actually Destroyed The Middle Class?
The difficulties experienced by the great middle in the U.S. can be, in my opinion, traced to the delinking of the U.S. dollar from gold in 1971.

Economics One | The BIS on "The Limits of Monetary Policy"
Each year the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) hosts the world’s central bankers--the BIS shareholders--at their Annual General Meeting in Basel, Switzerland. At the meeting held today, the BIS issued their Annual Report which addresses key monetary policy issues.


WSJ | Some EU Nations to Press Ahead on Transaction Tax
At least nine European Union countries—including France, Germany and Spain—signaled Friday they want to introduce a tax on financial transactions such as trades of shares and bonds, after they failed to get the rest of the bloc to support such a levy.
Daily Finance | These Little-Noticed Tax Hikes Are Raiding Your Wallet
In a tough economy, the last thing many people can afford is for the government to take more of their money. Yet at least in some places, recent tax increases have already taken a big bite out of taxpayers' wallets, and the worst may be yet to come.
National Journal | Bloomberg: All Bush-Era Tax Cuts Should Expire
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday criticized the push to end Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy, saying that the effort – led mainly by Democrats – does little to actually affect the deficit and amounts to pandering to populist sentiment.


WSJ | Law Grads Face Brutal Job Market
Members of the law-school class of 2011 had little better than a 50-50 shot of landing a job as a lawyer within nine months of receiving a degree, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of new data that provides the most detailed picture yet of the grim market for law jobs.
USA Today | Trucker jobs go unfilled, leading to delayed deliveries
A worsening shortage of truck drivers is pushing up freight rates and delaying some deliveries, defying the weak economy, high unemployment and falling gasoline prices.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NY Post | A Nation too scared to quit
In case you missed it, hiring fell a staggering 9 percent last month. The hidden secret is how bad hiring has been throughout the “recovery.”
CATO | Why Does the Government Halt Skilled Immigration?
Just two months after the government started accepting applications, next year's highly skilled worker visas hit the numerical cap. No firm will be now able to apply to sponsor highly skilled foreign workers.

WSJ | Americans Worked More in 2011
As the economy gradually recovers, Americans are spending more time at work. They’re also spending a couple more minutes sleeping and a couple less doing housework. They’re even cutting back a bit on watching TV.


CNN Money | Will health reform ruling help or hurt deficits?
From the start of the debate over the current health reform law in 2009, one of the big questions was its impact on deficits.
WSJ | A Spanish Leader Emerges as a Crusader for Austerity
Thrown a lifeline to shore up its banks, Spain must now show it can fix its public finances—or face an even bigger bailout.
CNN Money | Crunch time for Congress on student loans
It's crunch time for Congress, with interest rates on student loans subsidized by Uncle Sam slated to double to 6.8% on July 1.
WSJ | States Face Pressure on Pension Shortfalls
New accounting rules are likely to show that public pension plans could face hundreds of billions of dollars in additional liabilities, putting new pressure on state and local governments to act.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Commercial Appeal | Deficits imperil our reserve currency status
As the situation in Europe deteriorates, global investors are fleeing to the dollar and to the safety of U.S. Treasurys -- the debt instruments of our federal government. With so much demand for Treasurys, our government is able to borrow money and pay virtually nothing in the way of interest.
The Telegraph | Reith Lecture: 'We’re mortgaging the future of the younger generation'
Critics of Western democracy are right to discern that something is amiss with our political institutions. The most obvious symptom of the malaise is the huge debts we have managed to accumulate in recent decades, which (unlike in the past) cannot largely be blamed on wars.

AEI | We need a long-term solution to student debt
There are rumblings from Capitol Hill that the long national nightmare of the student loan interest rate saga may be coming to an end (for a year, anyway).
Think Markets | Krugman Redistribution or Ponzi Scheme
A nice thing about Paul Krugman, he does not mince his words. Thus his new book, End This Depression Now!, repeats as boldly as possible the central point he’s repeatedly made in his New York Times columns and blogs for years. Namely, governments have to spend a lot more.