Wednesday, September 26, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | Consumers spent 3.3% more in 2011
Consumers opened their wallets last year, spending an average 3.3% more on household expenditures than they did in 2010, according to federal data released Tuesday. Average annual spending rose to$49,705, the first yearly increase since 2008, the height of the Great Recession.
Market Watch | Home prices climb for fourth month in row
U.S. home prices rose in July for the fourth straight month to reach their highest level in nearly two years, according to an index released Tuesday.
Bloomberg | Americans Feeling Better Than in 2009 Amid Skepticism on Obama
Public confidence in the U.S. economy is bolstering President Barack Obama’s re-election chances even as Americans continue to view his stewardship skeptically.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Dodd-Frank's 'Orderly Liquidation' Is Out of Order
'The tendency of the law must always be to narrow the field of uncertainty." Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that more than a century ago, but the sentiment runs all the way to our nation's roots. Under our Constitution, the rule of law provides the certainty and transparency necessary to protect individual liberty and support economic growth.
CRS | Energy Policy: Election Year Issues and Legislative Proposals
Energy policy in the United States has focused on three major goals: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment. In pursuit of those goals, government programs have been developed to improve the efficiency with which energy is utilized, to promote the domestic production of conventional energy sources, and to develop new energy sources, particularly renewable sources.
NBER | Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds
This paper raises basic questions about the process of economic growth. It questions the assumption, nearly universal since Solow’s seminal contributions of the 1950s, that economic growth is a continuous process that will persist forever.
AEI | The Internet doesn't need more regulation
Two cases on data roaming and net neutrality deal with similar economic issues: Will more regulation improve the market for Internet-based communications?

Economist | When did Washington change?
Last week, the Census Bureau published new county-level income data, which revealed that seven of the nation's ten richest counties are located in the Washington metropolitan area, a share that has only risen of late.
The Big Picture | The 2012 Recession: Are We There Yet?
It has been almost a year since we predicted a recession. Back in December, we went on to specify the time frame for it to begin: if not by the first quarter of the year, then by mid-2012. But we also said at the time that the recession would not be evident before the end of the year.

Health Care

Politico | Hospitals: Feds share billing blame
A threat from Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to crack down on questionable Medicare billing has drawn a fairly strong rejoinder from two major hospital groups who say federal regulators deserve part of the blame.
USA Today | Report: Premium hikes for top Medicare drug plans
Seniors enrolled in seven of the 10 most popular Medicare prescription drug plans will be hit with double-digit premium hikes next year if they don't shop for a better deal, says a private firm that analyzes the highly competitive market.
National Journal | Will Health Rebate Checks Help Obama?
For many insured Americans, the first tangible benefit of President Obama's signature health care law recently landed in their mailboxes: a check from their insurance company.

CATO | Subsidies for Electronic Medical Records Leads to Higher Medicare Bills
Government subsidies often produce unintended consequences. The latest example comes from the New York Times, which reports that federal subsidizes to encourage doctors and hospitals to use electronic billing and recording records are leading to larger Medicare bills.
Heritage Foundation | Obamacare Spends More Than a Trillion in Taxpayer Dollars and Still Leaves 30 Million People Uninsured
Four years later, the country has 48.6 million people without health insurance and a $1.68 trillion health care law that, if it even works as claimed, would still leave 30 million people without health care.


Market Watch | The emerging headache of QE3: Andy Xie
The Fed has promised to purchase $40 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) per month until it is satisfied with the economy. By all accounts an unemployment rate above 7% is not satisfactory to the Fed.
Market Watch | 8 early warning signs inflation is percolating
They don’t ring a bell at the top of a bull market nor at the bottom of a bear market. But when it comes to inflation there are some early warning signs that investors can monitor, according to a new report.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Investors | Fed Casts Vote Against Housing Reform With QE3
The Treasury Department outlined three paths for reforming housing finance early last year, including one that would dramatically shrink the government's role.
Washington Times | What Fed policy says about Obama economy
Has Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke gone all political on us? Very unlikely, though it may look that way. But he does seem deeply worried about the sliding U.S. economy under President Obama’s policies.

WSJ | Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Central Banker
The double think, deception and distortion of the cold-war era looks like it’s being reproduced today. Except, unlike then, when it was state trying to manipulate state, now it’s central banks manipulating individuals and markets.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | U.S. should ax destructive tax
It’s difficult to say definitively which tax is the most destructive. The corporate income tax is a leading candidate for causing higher prices to consumers, lower wages to workers and lower returns to investors.
Washington Times | Relief for American enterprise
The U.S. economy is in desperate need of a boost. That’s not surprising considering our businesses struggle under a tax burden higher than what is found in any other major industrialized nation. It’s long past time to slash these rates and restore the competitiveness of American industry.
CATO | The IRS Has Gone Rogue
A president who says “I haven’t raised taxes” has authorized his Internal Revenue Service issue a “final rule” that will illegally tax some 12 million individuals, plus large employers, in as many as 40 states beginning in 2014. Oklahoma’s attorney general has asked a federal court to block this rule. Members of Congress have introduced legislation in both the House and the Senate to quash it.

Library of Economics | Hoisted from the Comments: Is European Progressivity Tiebout?
A supporting piece of evidence is that the US has a more progressive national taxation system - far more progressive - than most / all European nations, and it is far far easier to exit the European tax regimes than the US federal regime.
AEI | UK tax reform: A roadmap for the U.S.?
While our combined corporate rate of 39.1 percent may be old news, what can or should be done about it is still a highly relevant question. Among others, AEI’s Kevin Hassett has stressed the importance of corporate tax reform, but what form the reforms should take is highly debated.


CNN Money | Ford to cut hundreds of jobs in Europe
Ford Motor said Wednesday that it plans to cut hundreds of jobs in Europe in an effort to reduce costs.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Job creation is free in the private sector
In the midst of a persistently and painfully sluggish economy, there has been a lot of debate about the role of government in boosting the economy and promoting job creation. Part of this debate has focused on President Obama’s stimulus bill — and whether or not the cost of the “jobs created or saved” was too high.


WSJ | Euro Zone Considers Central Budget to Fix Cracks
Euro-zone governments have begun discussions about creating a central budget for the currency union aimed at smoothing over some of the region's economic divergences, after Germany indicated support for the idea, European officials say.
National Journal | Geithner: Tax and Entitlement Reforms Essential to Deal With 'Fiscal Cliff'
A resolution to the drastic year-end spending cuts and expiring tax cuts known collectively as the “fiscal cliff” has to include a balance of tax and entitlement reforms, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Tuesday.
CNN Money | Postal Service to move closer to insolvency
At the end of this month, the U.S. Postal Service takes another step toward insolvency.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The 10% President
A question raised by President Obama's immortal line on CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday—"I think that, you know, as President, I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree"—is what that degree really is. Maybe 70% or 80% of the buck stops with him? Or is it halfsies?