Tuesday, August 7, 2012

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
Market Watch | Foreclosures’ small effect on nearby prices
A foreclosure in the area won’t bring prices down that much: report
CNN: Money | Banks keep lending standards tight for small firms
Since the recession, small businesses trying to get bank loans have faced tougher credit standards -- and little has changed. In the Federal Reserve's most recent survey of bank loan officers, released Monday, 95% said credit standards remained basically unchanged during the second quarter.
Bloomberg | German Factory Orders Fall Twice as Much as Forecast
Orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, dropped 1.7 percent from May, when they rose 0.7 percent, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. Economists forecast a 0.8 percent decline, according to the median of 35 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.
CNN: Money | Housing recovery could lift jobs, spending
After years of depressed activity, home prices and new construction have started to pick up in recent months as foreclosures have slowed, suggesting the housing market may have finally bounced off the bottom.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Arthur Brooks: Obama and 'Earning Your Success'
The work mandate was the most successful welfare reform in 60 years. Ending it is a tragedy.
CNBC | London Olympics an ‘Economic Failure’: Roubini
Famously bearish economist Nouriel Roubini has branded the Olympics an “economic failure”, saying Londoners have left the city and tourists have stayed away following “excess warnings”.
Politico | To help free market, bury the hatchet
The retail industry has continuously complained about the fees card companies charge them to use a convenient, secure and fast payment network, which has benefited both merchants and consumers.
Washington Times | CUSTER: In the economic Olympics, U.S. is falling behind
Each year, several organizations publish rankings of countries based on their economic freedom — their friendliness to commerce in areas such as rule of law, free markets and limited government. In 2012, the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal report places the United States 10th and declining, as does the latest Fraser Institute report.
WSJ | The Latest Big Bank Bailout
The back room attempt to guarantee transaction deposits.
Washington Times | EDITORIAL: The Solyndra standard
Obama doubles-down on green firms that go belly-up.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
WSJ: Real Time Economics | Vital Signs Chart: Gas Prices Moving Higher
Gasoline prices are rising along with the cost of crude oil. A gallon of regular gasoline cost $3.64 last week, and has climbed steadily through July and now August. Still, gasoline prices remain well below their $3.94 peak, reached in April.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | How Bad Could EU Crisis Get? IMF Attempts an Answer
Failure of euro-zone policy makers to tame their growing debt crisis would likely trigger a severe regional economic contraction, force a fire sale of financial-industry assets and trim the growth prospects of major world economies by several percentage points, the IMF says in its 2012 Spillovers Report.

Health Care

News                                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | The painful new trend in Medicare
Because Medicare regulations are so short on specifics, the hospitals making the admission decision have come to rely on the same tool that the auditors reviewing that call down the road check with as well: screening programs created by private firms.
National Journal | Big Companies Eye Exchanges for Coverage
Large employers view the health reform law’s insurance exchanges as a viable option for some current and former employees, according to a survey from the National Business Group on Health released on Monday.
CNN: Money | Medicare: Avoid big rehab bills
When you need to go to rehab after a fall, illness or other medical problem, Medicare will fully cover the cost of your stay for up to 20 days as long as you've spent at least three days in the hospital as an inpatient.
RCM | With Healthcare Costs, the U.S. Is a Huge Outlier
In any comparison of healthcare costs in rich countries, the United States is an extreme outlier. This is true both in terms of the percentage of its income devoted to health and the absolute level of our health spending per person.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Cato Institute | Obamacare: The Road to Repeal Starts in the States
A critical mass of states could literally force Congress to repeal the Obama health law.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Cato @Liberty | Replacing Obamacare: Cato Offers a Positive Solution Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on Obamacare—the first of many challenges to reach it because, to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi, the more we learn about it, the more constitutional defects we find—the focus of public debate has returned to the policy arena.

Monetary

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Fed's Rosengren makes strong case for more QE
The U.S. economy is "only treading water" and central bankers need to launch another, open-ended, asset purchase program to spur demand, said Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren on Tuesday. In an interview on CNBC that followed an interview in the Wall Street Journal, Rosengren argued that the Fed should set out to buy a specific dollar amount of mortgage-backed securities per month but not set an end-date until there was a clear improvement in the economy.
NY Times | Libor, Naked and Exposed
The Barclays case demonstrates that Libor has become more vulnerable to misconduct. It’s time for a new or revised benchmark — an emperor clothed in actual, observable market transactions — to restore the confidence of Americans that the rates at which they borrow and lend money are set honestly and transparently.

Taxes

News                                                                                                                             
Politico | Harry Reid not releasing his own tax returns
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid again deflected questions Monday about releasing his tax returns, even as he continued to pound the demand for Mitt Romney to make more of his own public. Instead, Reid pointed to the financial disclosure forms he files as a member of Congress, which provide different information.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Mercatus Center | Tax Holidays in the Dog Days of August
In what has become a common practice in about a dozen and a half states, August is the month for the sales tax holiday. Whether the goal is to encourage consumer spending or ostensibly offer tax relief to families, the three-day holiday waives sales tax on certain purchases – typically school supplies and clothing.
NY Times | The Clinton Tax Challenge for Republicans
Republicans are adamant that taxes on the ultra-wealthy must not rise to the level they were at during the Clinton administration, as President Obama favors, lest economic devastation result. But they have a problem – the 1990s were the most prosperous era in recent history. This requires Republicans to try to rewrite the economic history of that decade.

Employment

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Heritage Foundation | Unions Retaliate Against Philly Construction Company
The construction labor cartel in Philadelphia means much higher pay for union members, but higher rent and fewer jobs for everyone else. If Post Brothers succeeds, it will have broken the union lock on Philly’s construction market. Both renters and unemployed non-union workers should hope they do.

Budget

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Commentary: Another reason to fear the fiscal cliff
If Democrats and Republicans fail to figure out a way to avert the fiscal cliff before the end of this year, they are fooling themselves if they think they'll be able to clean up the mess easily when Congress gets back in January.
CNBC | Is Spain Stumbling Towards a Full Bailout?
Spain seems to be stumbling towards a full bailout, and its politicians appear to be gently prodding it along.
Investors.com | Business Fears The Obama Cliff, Not the Fiscal Cliff
The New York Times says businesses are cutting back because of the "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax hikes that'll kick in should Congress remain gridlocked. But what worries businesses more is the Obama Cliff.
Reason.com | How The Looming "Fiscal Cliff" is Killing Business Investment
The federal government has failed to even vote on a real budget in over three years, the economy is in the tank, the fall election pits the Wolf Man versus Frankenstein's monster and come January 1, 2013, current tax rates revert back to much-higher (and less progressive!) levels from the Clinton days while automatic spending cuts kick in. This is the "fiscal cliff" that Fed head Ben Bernanke warns about.
Forbes | Federal Spending: Killing the Economy With Government Stimulus
In 2008 federal red ink was “only” $479 billion. Since then Uncle Sam’s annual deficit has exceeded a trillion dollars. In addition, the Federal Reserve launched a massive “stimulus” campaign—costly bail-outs and mortgage purchases, near zero interest rates, and two rounds of “quantitative easing.”