Thursday, October 11, 2012

General Economics

Market Watch | U.S. growth remains modest, Fed says
The U.S. economy continued to grow modestly across much of the nation in the past month, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday, based on interviews with thousands of business contacts.
CNN Money | Oil workers win big as U.S. wages climb
Big pay hikes in the energy industry have helped fuel the biggest jump in U.S. wages in more than five years, according to an industry report released Wednesday.
FOX News | Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.39 pct.; 15-year edges up to 2.70 pct.
Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages tick up from record lows last week. Cheaper mortgages are fueling a modest housing recovery that could help the broader economy.
CNN Money | Colder winter will increase heating costs
Heating costs are likely to significantly rise this winter, due primarily to much colder weather rather than higher prices, according to a government report released Wednesday.
Market Watch | Foreclosure activity drops to 5-year low
Foreclosure activity dropped in September to the lowest level since July 2007, RealtyTrac reported on Thursday.
WSJ | U.S., Japan Face Risks As Havens, IMF Warns
The world's two largest advanced economies, the U.S. and Japan, face growing long-term risks from investors fleeing trouble spots around the world, the International Monetary Fund warned Wednesday.
Market Watch | U.S. trade gap widens as exports fall again
The U.S. trade deficit widened 4.1% in August to $44.2 billion as exports continued to weaken, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
USA Today | Corporate profits expected to fall in 3Q
Investors spoiled by years of soaring corporate profits are bracing for something they haven't had to endure in quite some time: a decline.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | So Long Price-Earnings, Hello Price-Expectations
At the end of last week, major equity indexes including the S&P 500, the Stoxx Europe 600 and the MSCI Emerging Markets were up by about 15% from their early June lows, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up around 12.5%. Certain European bourses did even better, such as Spain's IBEX 35, which surged more than 30%.
Trib Live | Beware some economic commentary
Economists have failed to communicate the basic insights of economics to the general public. So it’s unsurprising that public understanding in the 21st century of elementary truths of the economy is on par with public understanding in the ninth century of elementary truths of the solar system.

WSJ | Vital Signs Chart: Paychecks Losing Ground
Americans’ paychecks have lost ground in the recovery, one reason why consumption and consumer confidence are weak. Average hourly earnings were $19.80 in August, adjusted for inflation, the same as August 2011 and down slightly from the beginning of 2009. With unemployment falling but still high, employers can fill many jobs without raising salaries.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Medicaid Is Broken—Let the States Fix It
Medicaid, America's safety-net program for more than 62 million low-income uninsured Americans, is broken. It's broken at the state level, where program costs are swamping state budgets. It's broken for federal taxpayers, as Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse drain tens of billions of dollars from federal coffers every year. And, most important, it's broken for the millions of families who can't find doctors willing to accept Medicaid's rock-bottom reimbursements.


Bloomberg | Policy Makers Bemoan Currency Strength as Yellen Defends Fed
Policy makers from around the world bemoaned the economic threat of strong exchange rates as the Federal Reserve played down its influence in currency markets.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
The American | How to Think about QE3
Alan Blinder, a prominent Democratic economist, once complained that when economists are in broad agreement with high confidence (on the issue of free trade, for example), they are never consulted. Instead, journalists and laymen ask economists to make pronouncements only on topics where there is little confidence and strong disagreement.

Economist | Trickle-down central banking
How is bond-buying by the Federal Reserve supposed to help the real economy? Last week, my colleague and I debated the potency of monetary stimulus when household balance sheets were constrained. Instead of arguing in a vacuum, perhaps it would be better to ask Ben Bernanke, the Fed’s chairman, how he thinks the Fed is assisting the recovery.


CNN Money | 4 tax breaks for parents on the chopping block
Many low-income parents could see their tax bills jump by thousands of dollars next year if nothing is done to stop a series of tax breaks from expiring January 1.
WSJ | Eleven European Countries Support Tax on Transactions
Eleven European Union countries on Tuesday said they want to levy a tax on the trading of bonds, shares and derivatives, as governments try to recoup some of the cost of the financial crisis.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Wanted: Tax reform Reagan would love
The tax code has become an object of ridicule — and intense scrutiny — for both political parties, just as it was in the 1980s. Then, as now, news stories about tax inequalities stirred public outrage. Closing special-interest loopholes was an obsession then, as it is now, as government officials scramble for revenue to avoid a fiscal cliff.
FOX Business | Is it Time to Switch to a Consumption Tax?
The first presidential debate covered a topic dear to my heart: tax relief to Middle America. Both sides agree that something must be done, but they differ on the best way to provide relief.

Heritage Foundation | Bloomberg and Obama Misrepresent Tax Hikes on Small Business
In the recent presidential debate, President Obama said that only 3 percent of small businesses would pay higher rates under his plan to increase the top two marginal tax rates. The implication was that job creation wouldn’t suffer, because so few businesses would pay higher tax rates under his plan.
Tax Foundation | Chart of the Day: Payroll Taxes and Refundable Credits
Refundable tax credits exceed the payroll taxes paid by millions of workers.


Market Watch | Jobless claims plunge to four-year low
The number of U.S. workers who filed new applications for unemployment benefits dropped sharply, by 30,000, last week to 339,000, the lowest level in more than four years, the Labor Department reported Thursday in what may have been the result of a statistical fluke.
Washington Times | Economy Briefs: Job openings dipped in August from July
U.S. employers advertised slightly fewer jobs in August than in July, while they filled the most positions in three months, offering a mixed signal on the job market.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | New BLS Data Add to Bad Labor Market Story
New employment data released Wednesday threw yet another grenade into the explosive controversy following last week's report on September unemployment numbers.

Library of Economics | ACA: turning full-time jobs into part-time jobs
The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants is putting more workers on part-time status in a test aimed at limiting the impact of looming health coverage requirements.
AEI | New government report casts even more doubt on the September jobs data
According to the Labor Department’s just-released Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, there were 3.6 million job openings on the last business day of August, “essentially unchanged from July.” 
Political Calculations | Updated: Using Gas Prices to Forecast Unemployment
Say, do you remember when we said you should enjoy it while you can as the average price of gasoline in the U.S. dropped below $3.50 per gallon back in June?
AEI | The unemployment rate has dropped by 0.3% or more 9 times since 1990. But none looked anything like last month’s decline
Sam Ro over at Business Insider notes that a 0.3% or greater decline in the unemployment rate in a single month has occurred nine times since 1990 and four times since 2000, including last month.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | The Federal Budget Deficit Totaled $1.1 Trillion in 2012, CBO Estimates
The federal government’s fiscal year 2012 has come to a close, and CBO estimates—in its latest Monthly Budget Review—that the federal budget deficit for the year was about $1.1 trillion, or 7.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Politico | No quick fix for our debt addiction
Many hoped to come away from the first presidential debate with renewed optimism for a solution to the fragile condition of our nation’s fiscal health. Unfortunately, I came away less optimistic.
Washington Times | Obama’s fiscal failure is not debatable
The matchup between President Obama and Mitt Romney during their first debate could be summed up in simple terms as government versus the private sector. Mr. Romney, a successful businessman with a history of turning around failing companies, took Mr. Obama to task for increasing the country’s deficit and generally making our economic woes worse.

Library of Economics | EconTalk: Russ and I discuss Fisher's Debt-Deflation Theory
I suspect it was this post that led to the invitation.  I really do believe Fisher's 1933 Econometrica article offers a more complete model of the entire business cycle process than anything in Keynes's General Theory. 
AEI | Chuck Schumer’s tax reform plan made a ‘grand bargain’ less likely and a plunge over the fiscal cliff more likely
I don’t see how Sen. Chuck Schumer’s speech on tax reform yesterday helped anything — other than providing further clarity on how Democrats are going to try and deal with the exploding national debt: taxes, taxes, and more taxes.