Thursday, August 30, 2012

General Economics

WSJ | Consumer Spending Ticks Up
U.S. personal spending rose the most in five months in July, a sign that wary consumers may be coming out of their shell despite broad economic uncertainty.
CNN Money | Consumers cut up credit cards, but buy cars
At 10.9%, credit card delinquencies are at their lowest level since the end of 2008. And credit inquiries, an indicator of demand, fell for the second consecutive quarter.
Bloomberg | Distressed Home Prices Jump With Inventory Shrinking
Demand for distressed properties is driving up prices for the first time in two years as investors from Blackstone Group LP (BX) to Colony Capital LLC chase shrinking inventory.
Market Watch | Euro-zone Aug. economic sentiment index falls
The European Commission on Thursday said its euro-zone economic sentiment indicator fell to 86.1 in August from 87.9 in July, reflecting an across the board decline in its sector indexes.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Unhappy with the economy? Here's why
For the third year in a row we've experienced a thaw in the economy only to be followed by some real dog days. The U.S. is barely growing, and a lot of the reason is that you aren't spending.
WSJ | Reagan and Obama: A Tale of Two Recoveries
How these two presidents responded to a deep recession reveals polar extremes in policy. And in results.
RCM | Don't Believe the Near-Term Data, We've Not Reached a Housing Bottom
This time around the cause of the uptick is that there were fewer foreclosures being processed over the past year which, thanks in part to the robo-signing scandal, has effectively taken existing housing supply off the market.
CNN Money | Citi to pay $590 million to investors
Bank has paid out or agreed to $2.3 billion in penalties related to the financial crisis in the past year.

AEI | Cronyism is just as threatening to free enterprise as big government
Statism and cronyism are fundamentally about the same things: Letting political power allocate economic resources rather than markets. Both reduce competition and entrench stagnation.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
RCM | Health Insurers: Mind Your Own Business
Obamacare includes what the health care technocracy calls the "MLR rule" - minimum requirements for medical-loss ratios - or the percentage of premiums collected by health insurers that must be spent on medical care or refunded.


Market Watch | Atlanta Fed's Lockhart: Close call on more easing
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said it's a "close call" as to whether more easing is needed at this point. Speaking on CNBC, Lockhart said it's clear the economy is growing around 2% and that inflation is "well behaved." Lockhart is a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Baltimore: The city that sues the banks
The Libor scandal plays out in an unlikely place - the streets of Charm City.
WSJ | The Gold Standard Goes Mainstream
In the ferment within today's Republican Party, there's a growing realization that America's system of fiat money is part of the economic problem.
Forbes | What Is It About a Stable Dollar That Paul Krugman Doesn't Understand?
During the 180 years that we had one form or another of “a fixed value for the dollar” (1790 – 1970), the U.S. economy grew at an average annual real rate of 3.94%. During the past 41 years of fiat money (1970 – 2011), our real GDP grew at 2.81%.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Negative Rates Would Have Many Consequences
There would be several potentially negative consequences for both the U.S. economy and finance generally if borrowers start getting paid by those lending them cash, two economists warned.
Free Banking | Let’s have the debate on gold
Among those wishing to foreclose debate I see many clever scribblers, but nobody who shows evidence of having studied in detail the history and workings of the gold standard, as it existed both inside and outside the United States.


CNBC | French PM: 75% Tax Will Not Define Government
France’s Prime Minister has told CNBC that his government will work hard with businesses to avoid major job losses and dismissed claims that his government is anti-business and driving away investment with a 75 percent tax on high earners.


WSJ | Fed Sees Modest Growth as Jobs, Housing Improve
The U.S. economy inched ahead in July and early August, as the jobs picture improved slightly in some areas and the housing market continued to mend, the Federal Reserve said in a report Wednesday.
Bloomberg | Jobless Claims in U.S. Unchanged Last Week at One-Month High
Jobless claims were little changed at 374,000 in the week ended Aug. 25, matching the upwardly revised figure from the prior week, the Labor Department reported today in Washington.
USA TODAY | Serious shortage of skilled auto mechanics looming
There is already competition among auto dealers in many parts of the nation to hire or retain good technicians. The bigger worry is whether there will be enough younger workers in a few years as a wave of midcareer mechanics hits retirement age.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | Government Makes It More Difficult for First-Time Job Seekers
Government policies have made this difficult labor market even worse for younger Americans. In 2007, Congress voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Half of minimum wage earners are between the ages of 16 and 24.


WSJ | Greece Makes Late Push on Cuts
Greece's political leaders said that despite disagreements over the targets of spending cuts, they are confident they can agree on an austerity plan in time for the arrival next week of a team of inspectors from international creditors.
Bloomberg | Wen Tells Merkel Spain, Italy, Greece Need More Reforms
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told his German counterpart that Spain, Italy and Greece must take steps to prevent a worsening of the euro region’s sovereign-debt crisis as he pledged to consider further European bond purchases.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
4% Growth | Stop Bailing Out Cities
Billions of dollars will be spent this year to do a myriad of things to entice people to stay in cities that hold little in the way of economic promise.