Wednesday, June 27, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | South Carolina gas falls below $3 a gallon
Gas prices continued their nationwide decline on Tuesday, as South Carolina became the first state in nearly a year and a half to hit an average of less than $3 per gallon.
Washington Times | U.S. gasoline prices cheapest since January
The price of gasoline has dropped to a five-month low, giving drivers some relief ahead of the July 4 holiday.
Market Watch | Orders for U.S. durable goods rise 1.1% in May
Orders for long-lasting U.S. goods rose 1.1% in May after falling in the prior two months, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
CNN Money | Home prices rise for first time in 7 months
Average home prices increased 1.3% in April in 20 major markets, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. This comes after prices hit new post-bubble lows in March.
WSJ | U.S. Urged To Bolster Economy
The U.S. economy is likely to grow moderately this year, but is limited by stagnant wages, relatively high income inequality and an education system that provides few resources to those likely to need help, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said.
CNN Money | Obama to allow more Arctic drilling
The Obama administration will go ahead with more drilling in Arctic waters, though at a pace that allows for more research before additional permits are granted.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Get ready for another surge in imports
The deteriorating world economy rightly has produced lower American growth forecasts in anticipation of falling U.S. exports.
CRS | An Economic Analysis of Large-Scale Mortgage Refinancing Proposals: A Brief Overview
The bursting of the housing bubble in 2006 precipitated the December 2007-June 2009 recession and a financial panic in September 2008. With the housing market seen as a locus for many of the economic problems that emerged, some Members of Congress propose intervening in the housing market as a means of improving not only the housing market itself but also the financial sector and the broader economy.
American | Dodd-Frank: The Economic Case for Repeal
As the second anniversary of the act approaches, its role in slowing our economic recovery is coming into focus. GDP growth shrunk immediately after the law passed and has never recovered, while key terms in the law remain undefined.
CRS | Hydropower: Federal and Nonfederal Investment
Congress is examining numerous energy sources to determine their contribution to the nation's energy portfolio and the federal role in supporting these sources.
Washington Times | Europe’s master plan
The world was able to breathe a sigh of relief after last week’s elections in Greece, as it looks as if Athens will try to keep the country’s membership in the eurozone. But it won’t be easy.
AEI | A big deal: Canada and Mexico join the Pacific Trade Pact
The most significant development during the G-20 summit in Mexico occurred on the sidelines and was largely buried in media reports: The decision to invite Canada and Mexico to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).

National Review | European Roundup: ‘Why They Aren’t Getting Better’ Edition
I must be honest. I don’t understand what he means by the growth agenda. Does it mean an end to austerity? If so, why not say so? And if so, how do you ensure fiscal discipline moving forward?
CATO | Census Bureau Confirms: DC Spends $29,409 / pupil
Oh, and, BTW, this spending figure is about triple what the DC voucher program spends per pupil—and the voucher students have a much higher graduation rate and perform as well or better academically.
Marginal Revolution | My 28-minute talk on black swans
What would we do if it turned out there were more black swans than we had thought?  What should we do?
Library of Economics | Changing World Trade Patterns
Whereas high-income economies accounted for four-fifths of global trade in 1985, they will account for less than half by the middle of this decade.
Political Calculations | The Quality of Government-Produced Economic Data
That's very old news to readers of Political Calculations, a little-read blog that somehow managed to scoop a number of financial institutions and even the New York Times in reporting on the poor health of China's economy back in February 2012.
Café Hayek | Two different stories
Robert Samuelson has an interesting narrative in the Washington Post. He argues that the prosperity of the last 30 years was driven by consumer spending, consumer spending that came from a false sense of wealth as housing prices rose artificially high due to an expansion of credit

Health Care

CNN Money | Doctors: We could go out of business
As the nation awaits the Supreme Court's ruling on health care reform, America's doctors are debating a serious issue of their own -- the possibility of going out of business.
CNN Money | Medicare: Seniors saved $3.7 billion on medicine
More than 5.2 million Medicare beneficiaries have saved a total of $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs since the health care reform law went into effect, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Monday.
National Journal | Republican Study Committee: We Have Health Care Ideas--27 Pages Worth
Anticipating a certain attack line from Democrats should the Supreme Court overturn all or part of the 2010 health care law, the Republican Study Committee published a 27-page list on Tuesday of health-related legislation that the group's members have introduced in the current Congress.
CNN Money | What health reform could cost you
Among the promises of the health reform law -- now in the hands of the Supreme Court -- is affordable insurance for millions of low- and middle-income Americans.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Health Care Reform v. the Founders
The president has announced his health care plan, and congressional Republicans have announced theirs. Although the details are still murky, the plans seem to share one fundamental assumption -- that every man, woman and child in the U.S. must participate in the system.
CATO | Why the Obamacare Ruling Matters
As we eagerly await the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, expected shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday morning, much of the political Left remains mystified by the health-care law’s continued unpopularity.


Market Watch | The Treasury won’t do the twist
The Federal Reserve’s latest efforts to push long term interest rates down is running up against the Treasury’s attempt to lock in today’s historically low borrowing costs.
Bloomberg | Draghi May Enter Twilight Zone Where Fed Fears to Tread
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is contemplating taking interest rates into a twilight zone shunned by the Federal Reserve.

WSJ | Fed’s Fisher: Twist Plan Having Very Minor Effect
The Federal Reserve‘s Operation Twist program to push down bond yields is only having a “very minor effect” on the economy, said Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, on Tuesday.
Economist | The twilight of the central banker
The ability of central bankers to bandage over the harm inflicted by bumbling politicians is limited, warns the BIS in its latest annual report. Unless the world embraces the sober leadership of the wise central banker disaster looms.
WSJ | Forecasts Hint Fed Might Change Rate Guidance
As regional Federal Reserve bank presidents return to the speaking circuit this week, many investors will be scrounging for clues as to whether the central bank plans to launch a third major bond-buying program later this summer.


Heritage Foundation | Federal Advisory Committee Members Land Millions in Taxpayer Backing
Members of a federal advisory committee on the adoption of biofuels have seen millions in taxpayer dollars steered to their companies while sitting on the committee, Scribe reports in today’s Washington Examiner.
Heritage Foundation | Fabricated Details on Tax Reform
The Tax Policy Center (TPC) and the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) fabricated details about the tax reform outline passed by the House of Representatives as part of Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s (R–WI) budget. Their “analysis” rests on thin air.


Bloomberg | Older Workers in U.S. Drive Competition in Labor Market
Richard InLove, 60, works 20 hours a week as a receptionist and office assistant in Eugene, Oregon, and wants more. After losing a full-time job in a cereal factory three years ago, he hasn’t been able to find a second position.


Washington Times | Tax cheats got $1.4 billion in stimulus loans
Tax cheats were given $1.4 billion in government-backed mortgage loans under President Obama’s economic stimulus, and the government doled out at least an additional $27 million in tax credits to delinquents who took the first-time-homebuyer tax break, according to a government audit released Wednesday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Germany's Merkel: No quick fix for debt crisis
Chancellor Angela Merkel told Germany's parliament Wednesday that there is no quick fix for the euro-zone's debt crisis and that the introduction of euro bonds at this stage would be "economically wrong," news reports said.
Forbes | Fiscal Austerity and Economic Prosperity
In this third and last of my entries on the “fiscal austerity” debate I discuss how, historically, prosperity has resulted not from the alleged “stimulus” of government deficit spending but from less government spending and big tax cuts.
WSJ | Let's Ban the Word 'Trillion'
The thing is, it should be really hard to ever get our heads around a "trillion." Very few of us have ever seen a trillion of anything with our own eyes. Maybe a trillion grains of sand, but not a trillion trees or a trillion stars.