Tuesday, July 31, 2012

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Taiwan GDP Unexpectedly Shrinks
Taiwan's economy unexpectedly shrank in the second quarter from a year earlier, the first on-year contraction since the third quarter of 2009 when the country was under pressure from the global financial crisis, as exports and consumption sagged.
Bloomberg | Home Prices in U.S. Fell Less Than Forecast in Year to May
Residential real estate prices declined less than forecast in the year ended May, another sign that the housing market is on the mend.
CNBC | Wanted: Wealthy Spenders to Boost Recovery
The shaky economic recovery may depend on wealthy consumers to keep spending — and they may not have the confidence to do the job.
Market Watch | Consumer spending falls again in June
U.S. consumers reduced spending for the second straight month despite a sharp increase in wages, boosting their savings rate to the highest level in a year.
CNN Money | Manufacturing boom: Trade school enrollment soars
Trade schools nationwide are bursting at the seams as demand for skilled factory workers pushes enrollment to record highs.
WSJ | In Crisis, a Rare Swede Spot
Sweden's economy, bolstered by solid exports and healthy consumer spending, is picking up considerable steam even as many of its European neighbors gasp for breath amid the struggle to contain the euro-zone debt crisis.
CNN Money | Report slams for-profit schools for expensive tuition, high drop-out rate
U.S. taxpayers spent $32 billion last year on for-profit private schools, despite the sector's relatively high drop-out rate, according to a congressional investigation released Monday.
Market Watch | Fewer foreclosed homes in June: CoreLogic
There were about 60,000 completed foreclosures in June, down from about 80,000 in the same month last year, according to CoreLogic Tuesday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | America's new work ethic?
New welfare rules and booming disability insurance rolls reveal a bias toward aid checks over paychecks.
WSJ | An Intriguing Idea to Encourage Bank Lending
The Olympics aren't the only thing happening across the pond these days. The Bank of England is about to launch a creative "Funding for Lending Scheme" to boost bank lending.
Washington Times | No excuse for bad policies
The Obama administration and its apologists, including many in the media, keep telling us that the Great Recession was the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s, and that is why the recovery has been so anemic. Is that true?
WSJ | 'A Climate That Helps Us Grow'
President Obama's riff on small business—"If you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen"—has become a major controversy.
News Day | Milton Friedman, a centennial appreciation
At the height of the Vietnam War, U.S. commander Gen. William Westmoreland testified before the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Force. The 15 members of that commission were charged with exploring the feasibility of ending the military draft.
Washington Times | Crony capitalism, Countrywide and Congress
“Crony capitalism” has become a popular buzz phrase when speaking of the bailouts as American taxpayers struggle to make sense of the corrupt relationships that led to the financial crisis.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Halfway Through, 2012 Has Been a Disappointment
This year began with such hopeful expectations–almost all of which have been dashed.
Heritage Foundation | The Sweet Fruits of Free Trade
After years of delays and renegotiations, a free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea (KORUS) finally took effect four months ago. Some parts of the U.S. economy are already bearing sweet fruit.
National Review | Must-Read Case Study of Government Gone Wild: Ohio Edition
How did the State of Ohio go from being one of America’s top economies to an economic basket case?
AEI | Obama’s overly optimistic economic forecasts
How much confidence should Americans have in the latest economic forecasts from the Obama White House? In its latest update, Obama’s Office of Management and Budget slashed its GDP forecast for 2012, to 2.3% from 2.7%, and for 2013, to 2.7% from 3.0%. Pretty tepid growth.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | 'Exchange' for the Worst
Democrats promised that health-care reform would be a smooth exercise in expert planning, but so far its "implementation" has been as anarchic and improvisational as the Affordable Care Act's passage. Yet amid the mayhem, there's a chance to mitigate some of the damage.
Daily Finance | Will Employer Health Insurance Go the Way of Pensions?
For years, employers have been getting out of the pension business. With old-style pensions giving way to 401(k) plans, most workers are now responsible for making their own investment decisions for their retirement.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Heritage Foundation | Obamacare by the Numbers
Looking for some straight facts on Obamacare and its impact? Here are some of the most important numbers you need to know about President Obama’s health law

Monetary

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | Heat Rises on Central Banks
The U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank face critical tests this week amid heightened expectations that they are moving toward new actions to tackle fragility in the global economy.
Bloomberg | Fed Seen Forgoing New Bond Buying Program Until September
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will probably forgo announcing a third round of large- scale asset purchases this week, and is more likely to wait until September to unveil plans to buy $600 billion in housing and government debt, according to median estimates of economists in a Bloomberg News survey.
CNBC | What Europe's Central Bank May Do to Save the Euro
The European Central Bank is thinking the unthinkable to save the euro, including resuming its controversial bond-buying program and possibly even pursuing quantitative easing — in effect printing money.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Man Who Saved Capitalism
It's a tragedy that Milton Friedman—born 100 years ago on July 31—did not live long enough to combat the big-government ideas that have formed the core of Obamanomics.
Bloomberg | Bernanke’s Plan: Sit, Wait and Then Do Something
Reporters whose job it is to tell us what the Federal Reserve tells them didn't have much to go on last week. So they told us what we already knew.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Minyanville | The Federal Reserve, Gold, Oil, and the Dollar's Demise
The Federal Reserve, through its various monetary mechanisms, has a major impact on the value of the US dollar, and over time, has destroyed the purchasing power of the fiat base currency used in the United States.
Library of Economics | An Ode to Milton Friedman
Today would have been Milton Friedman's 100th birthday.  I only met the man long enough for him to sign my copy of Capitalism and Freedom, but he's been a tremendous influence on me. 
Economist | When money isn't everything
So, there is a class of market monetarist critics who accept that more demand would be a good thing, but who argue that there are situations in which demand ceases to be a monetary phenomenon. One sees several different stories about the precise nature of the breakdown
Think Markets | Who Should Audit the Fed?
A few days ago the House passed with a veto-proof majority the bill known as “audit the fed” or more plainly as H.R. 459, sponsored by Ron Paul. 
WSJ | A Look Inside the Fed’s Balance Sheet
Ahead of the Federal Reserve‘s policy-setting meeting this week, it’s worth taking a look at the latest figures from the Fed’s balance sheet.

Taxes

News                                                                                                                             
National Journal | House Dems Offer Senate-Passed Tax Bill
House Democratic leaders on Monday said they are preparing to introduce the Senate-passed bill to renew the President George W. Bush-era tax cuts for families earning up to $250,000 as their alternative to the House GOP plan that would extend all the tax cuts.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Heritage Foundation | Sluggish Economic Growth: More Reason to Renounce Tax Hikes
On the afternoon of another discouraging assessment of the nation’s economic growth, the Obama Administration late Friday quietly released its mid-year update of the budget. The synchronicity made clear just how far from reality the President’s fiscal and economic policies have drifted—and the imperative of a prompt course correction.
Tax Foundation | Monday Map: Sales Tax Holidays in 2012
Today's Monday Map presents data from the report on sales tax holidays we released this morning, Sales Tax Holidays: Politically Expedient but Poor Tax Policy. 17 states have held or will hold sales tax holidays in 2012; geographically most of them are in the South.

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
WSJ | EU Jobless Rate Hits High
Unemployment in the 17 countries that share the euro hit another record high in June, a development that is likely to further weaken consumer spending and add pressure on the European Central Bank's governing council to take action at its monthly meeting Thursday.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area Unemployment Rate Reaches Record 11.2%: Economy
The jobless rate in the euro area reached the highest on record as the festering debt crisis and deepening economic slump prompted companies to cut jobs.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
AEI | Obama opposes raising minimum wage in American Samoa due to its harmful effects, will he do the same for the U.S.?
Just wondering, wouldn’t the same economic reasoning, evidence, and analysis that motivated President Obama to sign legislation freezing the minimum wage because of its harmful effects on Samoa’s economy also apply to the U.S.?

Budget

Blogs                                                                                                                             
The Hill | GAO says expanded food stamp eligibility raises costs, chances of abuse
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Monday that says the ability of states to expand eligibility for federal food stamps made about 473,000 more people eligible for food stamps, and added about $460 million in extra costs in 2010.