Tuesday, July 3, 2012

General Economics

WSJ | Sluggish Economy Plagues Europe
Euro-zone manufacturing activity contracted sharply in June and unemployment hit a record, in the latest sign that Europe's economic problems are worsening amid the region's debt crisis and a broader global slowdown.
Washington Times | Oil jumps to near $86 as Iran could block seaway
The price of oil jumped to near $86 a barrel on Tuesday as markets weighed the effects of sanctions against Iran and the possibility that Tehran could block a key Middle East shipping route.
WSJ | Factory Slump Reaches U.S.
The U.S. factory sector shrank in June for the first time since July 2009—the first month of the economic recovery—the Institute for Supply Management said Monday. Exports fell, and new orders, which gauge future factory activity, dropped at their fastest pace since the post-9/11 plunge in October 2001.
Blooomberg | IMF Lowers U.S. Growth Projections to 2 Percent
The U.S. economy will grow by 2 percent this year and about 2.25 percent in 2013 amid a “tepid” recovery and the European debt crisis, the International Monetary Fund said, lowering its previous projections.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | IMF: German economy 'remarkable;' banks vulnerable
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday praised Germany's economic performance as "remarkable" in the face of "considerable headwinds," while urging authorities to take steps to spur domestic demand growth and warning that the nation's banks remain vulnerable to an intensification of the euro-zone debt crisis.
Mercatus | Cronyism In the Sugar Industry: Comparing U.S. to World Prices
The nearly $1 trillion Farm Bill recently passed in the Senate contains one of the worst cases of cronyism: protection granted to the sugar industry.
WSJ | What Life Was Like in 1776
Almost every American knows the traditional story of July Fourth—the soaring idealism of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress's grim pledge to defy the world's most powerful nation with their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
CNBC | US Economy May Be Bottoming Out: Economist
A surprise contraction in U.S. manufacturing activity in June has raised the prospects of a worsening slowdown in the U.S., but one economist says the economy may actually be showing signs of bottoming out.
Fortune | Dear America: It's time to up our entrepreneurial game
The old paradigm -- get good grades, go to college, get a job, start a family -- is becoming a luxury for the few. How much longer are we going to tell this generation that "good" jobs will simply reappear?
USA Today | Opposing view: Don't rely on refinancing
The Federal Reserve continues its efforts to lower interest rates and the administration keeps expanding mortgage refinance programs, all in an effort to promote more lending. One result has been 14 million residential refinances since 2009.

Heritage Foundation | Uncle Sam Simultaneously Attacks and Subsidizes Soda Consumption
The federal government has financed a multi-million dollar ad campaign in New York City and elsewhere attacking sugary soft drinks. But legislation passed last week continues subsidizing sugar producers, and allows food stamp recipients to buy soda and other supposedly unhealthy foods with taxpayer money.
Heritage Foundation | Morning Bell: The Energy Revolution and Its Discontents
With all the gloomy economic news coming out of late, one bright spot flew under the radar last week: the United States is poised to be the proverbial center of the energy universe.

Health Care

CNN Money | Even health reform critics say: Quit repeal talk
The Supreme Court's decision on health reform brought a sigh of relief from small businesses. Whether they love or hate the new rules, they like certainty.
National Journal | Polls Agree: Americans Still Deeply Divided About Health Care Reform
The intensity of feeling on both sides of the health care law has grown in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, even as the overall split remains basically unchanged, according to public polls conducted in the days since the Court's ruling.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
FOX News | This is your life under ObamaCare
I am worried that the more than 250 million of you who already have health insurance will see the quality of care you receive diminish greatly. Doctors will weather the storm of ObamaCare even if we have to see a patient every five minutes and spend most of our time seeking test and treatment approvals, but what about you? How will you feel when you hear about a brand new cure only to find out that your insurance won’t cover it?
WSJ | A Strategy to Undo ObamaCare
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled ObamaCare's individual mandate constitutional, the direction of American health policy is in the hands of voters. So how do we get from here to "repeal and replace"?
NBER | Does Employer-Provided Health Insurance Constrain Labor Supply Adjustments to Health Shocks? New Evidence on Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer
We study employed married women, newly diagnosed with breast cancer, comparing labor supply responses to breast cancer diagnoses between women dependent on their own employment for health insurance and women with access to health insurance through their spouse’s employer.
CATO | ObamaCare's Now a Bigger Mess
If the new health care law wasn't enough of a mess before last week's Supreme Court decision, that ruling actually added another layer of cost, complexity and political contentiousness to the bill.

CATO | Is the Individual Mandate a Tax?
President Obama argues that a legal requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance is not a tax. Yet many economists, including some of President Obama’s economic advisers, consider it to be a type of tax.


Bloomberg | Fed Officials Signal Tighter Rules on Bank-Sponsored Money Funds
Federal Reserve officials spoke out twice in the past month to send a signal to money-market funds resisting tighter U.S. regulation. The message: New rules are coming, one way or another.

Economist | Is the Fed pushing on a string?
Occasionally, I'm asked why I think the Fed can do more to support the economy (indeed, can for the most part engineer a complete recovery without much assistance from fiscal authorities) while its policy rate is effectively zero and long-term rates are close to all-time record lows.
WSJ | Fed’s Williams: Inflation Surge Won’t Happen
The Federal Reserve‘s massive balance sheet hasn’t sparked an inflation surge, nor is it likely to, a top central bank official said Monday.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | McGurn: Chief Justice Roberts Taxes Credibility
Not once in the 59 pages that constitute Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts's lead opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius does he use the word "integrity."


FOX News | Farmers Worry New Agriculture Labor Rules Will End Teen Jobs
Many other young kids won't be allowed to do those kinds of chores if the U.S. Labor Department approves new rules on children working in agriculture. While the Mullers would likely be exempt because it's a family business, the proposed rules would prohibit most children under age 16 from driving tractors, using power equipment, working with livestock in certain circumstances and doing work at heights over 6 feet.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NY Times | Filling the Skills Gap
A man named Gerald Chertavian came by my office not long ago, and, by the time he left, I was filled with renewed appreciation for the potential of community colleges to help stem the decline of the middle class. There are few more urgent tasks.


Market Watch | U.S. must take steps to avoid fiscal cliff: IMF
U.S. lawmakers must remove uncertainty created by the "fiscal cliff," the International Monetary Fund said in a report released Tuesday.
Bloomberg | Euro Area Bought Some Time in Staving Off Breakup, Rogoff Says
European leaders probably bought “a little bit of time” in staving off a euro-area breakup after last week’s summit even as the region remains a long way from stabilization, Harvard University Professor Kenneth Rogoff said.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Slouching Toward Debt Union
On Friday euro-zone leaders agreed—or rather, Angela Merkel conceded—that their joint bailout funds may now be used both to buy up sovereign bonds directly and to start bailing out banks with European funds. "[I]t is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns," the euro group statement reads.
LA Times | The real national security threat: America's debt
Drones, kill lists, computer viruses and administration leaks are all the rage in the current political debate. They indeed merit serious scrutiny at a time when the rules of war, and technologies available for war, are changing fast. That said, these issues are not the foreign policy centerpiece of the 2012 presidential race.
CBO | Status of Discretionary Appropriations: FY 2013 House
Estimates of discretionary budget authority and outlays for fiscal year 2013.

Reason Foundation | Local, State Governments' Assets Causing Budgetary Pains
Like their federal counterpart, states and localities are paying the price of years of profligate spending.  Extravagant spending on programs that are neither the core mission of government nor "inherently governmental" nature is now coming home to roost.