Thursday, August 2, 2012

General Economics

WSJ | Factories Lose Steam as Global Fears Rise
The U.S. factory sector shrank in July for the second straight month, and gauges of future activity suggest weakness will continue into the fall.
CNN Money | Can Congress get out of the economy's way?
The U.S. economy, of course, faces a lot of risks. But one of the biggest is Congress itself.
WSJ | Euro-Zone Manufacturing Decline Steepens
Euro-zone factory activity fell at its steepest rate in more than three years in July, and export orders plunged despite a weakening euro, suggesting the economy will struggle to recover from its downturn any time soon.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | ‘Obamacare’ burdens poor, middle class with tax
Despite promises that the president’s health reforms would lower health care costs, “Obamacare” is saddled with new taxes, mandates and regulations that will increase the cost of care for families and job creators.
Investors | Obama, The Subprime President
That the president's highly touted rescue of GM was built on subprime lending is no surprise, given how he also champions subprime home and school loans. It's an upside-down economy not built on value or merit.
Washington Times | The true pension burden
The Maryland state retirement and pension system is in bad shape. The deluxe benefits package has $37 billion in assets, but even that amount isn’t enough to meet the promises made to government bureaucrats.
Politico | U.S. growth in 'prosperity economics'
The political fight over America’s ailing economy is dominated by one word: debt. For most Americans, however, the real problems are jobs and growth—we don’t have enough of either. Yet our political system seems incapable of tackling the true crisis.
Investors | To Heal Our Sick Economy, First Do No Harm
America got a serious wake-up call when we learned our economy has been growing at an anemic 1.5%. This confirmed again that this is the slowest recovery since the Great Depression — and the complete opposite of what the president promised would happen.
Forbes | Obama Wins The Gold For Worst Economic Recovery Ever
If mismanaging an economic recovery were an Olympic event, President Obama would be standing on the middle platform right now, accepting the gold medal.
Real Clear Markets | The U.S. Is On India's Horrid Energy Path
For those who don't remember what a large-scale blackout is like, take a look at what happened earlier this week in India, where 670 million people lost power.

Heritage Foundation | Toll-Free Entitlements: States Make Food-Stamp Benefits Easily Available
A new Government Accountability Office report reveals that in more than 40 states a growing number of households are able to collect food-stamp benefits simply by receiving a government-issued brochure or accessing a toll-free number.
WSJ | World-Wide Factory Activity, by Country
Manufacturing in much of the world remained in contractionary territory in July, as concerns about a crisis in Europe and a Chinese slowdown continued.
Heritage Foundation | Rescue Taxpayers from Flawed Farm Policy
House leaders on Tuesday proposed a drought relief package for ranches, orchards, and nurseries as a substitute for the massive five-year farm bill that has been stalled for weeks in the deeply divided chamber.

Health Care

National Journal | Liberals Get Back Into the Health Care Cost Battle
Ever since House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released his proposal last year to privatize Medicare plans, Republicans have driven the discussion on how to handle long-term health care costs.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | Plan Selection in Medicare Part D: Evidence from Administrative Data
We study the Medicare Part D prescription drug insurance program as a bellwether for designs of private, non-mandatory health insurance markets, focusing on the ability of consumers to evaluate and optimize their choices of plans.
Forbes | Where's The Outrage From Young Americans About Obama's Health Reforms?
President Obama’s 2010 health reform law has been heralded by its supporters as strongly beneficial for young Americans.

Heritage Foundation | Obamacare Robs Medicare of $716 Billion to Fund Itself
Last week, a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report updated the amount of money Obamacare robs out of Medicare from $500 billion to a whopping $716 billion between 2013 and 2022.


Market Watch | Fed frets, but doesn’t offer more help for economy
A cautious Federal Reserve on Wednesday said that the economy was weaker but took no new action to help stimulate demand.
Bloomberg | Draghi Says ECB Working on Bond Plan Amid Bundesbank Concern
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signaled the ECB intends to join forces with governments to buy bonds in sufficient quantities to ease the region’s debt crisis, while conceding that Germany’s Bundesbank has reservations about the plan.
Market Watch | Bank of England leaves monetary policy unchanged
The Bank of England on Thursday left its key lending rate unchanged and made no changes to its planned asset purchases.
Bloomberg | ECB Keeps Rates as Draghi Pressured to Bring Down Yields
The European Central Bank refrained from cutting interest rates as President Mario Draghi faces pressure to reduce bond yields to protect the euro.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Why the Fed's stimulus 'didn't work'
You needn't look hard to see the contrast between presidential candidates when it comes to what role Washington should play in reviving the economy.
Bloomberg | How the Fed Took the Money Out of Monetary Policy
I’ve been thinking a lot about monetary policy recently: not so much the question of will they or won’t they -- they being Federal Reserve policy makers -- provide additional stimulus.
City Journal | Monetarism and the Man
After Milton Friedman’s death on November 16, 2006, the diminutive intellectual cast such a long shadow that even as staunch an adversary as Paul Krugman begrudgingly remembered him as “a man of intellectual courage who was one of the most important economic thinkers of all time, and possibly the most brilliant communicator of economic ideas to the public that ever lived.”

WSJ | More Inflation Measures Are Slowing
An important piece of economic news Tuesday got very little attention. The Commerce Department reported that several measures of inflation closely tracked by the Federal Reserve have softened.
Economist | See no evil
Little if any improvement in unemployment, lots of downside risk, inflation at or below the Fed's preferred level. Of course that's exactly what it said in June. Fittingly, the Fed took no additional action.
WSJ | Parsing the Fed: How the Statement Changed
The Federal Reserve releases a statement at the conclusion of each of its policy-setting meetings, outlining the central bank’s economic outlook and the actions it plans to take.


Bloomberg | U.S. House Tax Cut Vote Continues Partisan Staredown
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend tax cuts through 2013 for all income levels, defying a veto threat from President Barack Obama and setting up a partisan showdown on fiscal policy after the Nov. 6 election.
National Journal | Bush Tax-Cut Votes All About November
Wednesday’s House votes on the fate of the Bush-era tax cuts ran along expected party lines, nicely setting the stage for taxation to be a focal point in the presidential race.

CATO | The Long and the Short on Internet Tax
Last week, Steve Titch gave you a thorough run-down on the TechLiberationFront blog. Now Tim Carney has a quick primer on the push by big retailers to increase tax collection on goods sold online.
National Review | No Taxation Without Representation, Except on the Internet
There was never any doubt in my mind that the moment that Internet giant caved to pressure and agreed to start collecting tax from its out-of-state consumers, we would be a step closer to losing the fight over “no Internet tax without representation.” Amazon caved a few months ago.
Tax Foundation | How Did the Tax Code Get So Progressive?
Imagine a society with 5 people, where the two richest people pay all the taxes, the middle person pays nothing, and the two poorest people actually have a negative tax rate, meaning the rich are paying them through the tax code.  Then any cut in the tax rate will disproportionately benefit the rich guys.  This is the federal income tax code, in a nutshell. 


Market Watch | Planned layoffs tick down in July: Challenger
Layoffs announced in July declined 2% from June to about 37,000, the lowest level this year, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Thursday.
CNN Money | Low-paying jobs are here to stay
Some 28% of workers are expected to hold low-wage jobs in 2020, roughly the same percentage as in 2010, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.
Market Watch | U.S. jobless claims rise 8,000 to 365,000
Applications for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, the government reported Thursday, but the number of people seeking compensation appears to have settled in a range that suggests little change in the rate of U.S. job growth.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | How to keep the young unemployed
If Congress and the administration wanted to keep the young and unskilled out of work, how would they do that?


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Here comes higher spending
In statements released simultaneously on Tuesday, Mr. Reid and Mr. Boehner announced the compromise that keeps the government funded through March 30.

National Review | Federalism Death Watch: State Dependency on Federal Dollars
Libertarians and free-market advocates have a particular attachment to the concept of federalism. If states can differentiate themselves on the basis of taxes, spending, and regulation, or even social policies, that gives Americans more leeway in deciding the rules under which we live.