Wednesday, October 31, 2012

General Economics

Bloomberg | Business Activity in U.S. Shrank in October for Second Month
Business activity in the U.S. unexpectedly contracted in October for a second month, adding to signs manufacturing has retreated from its central role in the economic recovery.
CNN Money | Largest refinery okay, but gas shortage still a risk
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, it's still unclear whether consumers will see a nationwide gas spike.
Market Watch | U.S. employment costs climb 0.4% in third quarter
The employment cost index, which measures the price of U.S. labor, rose 0.4% in the third quarter, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
Bloomberg | Storm Keeping Millions From Work May Slow Economic Growth
Atlantic superstorm Sandy may cut U.S. economic growth as it keeps millions of employees away from work and shuts businesses from restaurants to refineries in one of the nation’s most populated and productive regions.
CNN Money | Sandy's economic impact
Millions are without power, likely for an extended period of time. Businesses -- from the nation's stock exchanges and all the way on down to thousands of corner stores -- have been shut down.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | The Effects of Environmental Regulation on the Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturing
The economic costs of environmental regulations have been widely debated since the U.S. began to restrict pollution emissions more than four decades ago.
Washington Times | Crunch time for Obama’s weak economic numbers
The bleak truth about the comatose Obama economy is not just that it’s barely breathing. It’s still not far from another recession.
Daily Caller | Come home, Paul Krugman
I hate to say it, but economist, New York Times columnist and partisan talking beard Paul Krugman is a smart guy. After all, they don’t hand out Nobel Prizes based on looks. For proof, see 1902’s winner for literature.
Washington Times | The coming regulatory tsunami
Knowledgeable officials are expecting a regulatory tsunami after the election. By law, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is required to publish a report each April and October about new regulations that government agencies are considering. OMB failed to publish the April report. The question is why — what is it hiding?
Forbes | On Its 83rd Anniversary, Lessons From The Great Depression
Monday marks the 83rd anniversary of the onset of the worst economic collapse in the history of the modern world: the Great Depression. To observe the occasion, U.S. policymakers should reflect on lessons learned from the crisis. This is more than just an exercise in platitudes. Understanding the effects of policies implemented to aid the recoveries of the early 20th century could go a long way toward accelerating the one we’re currently surviving.
The American | Who Needs Home Ownership?
Home ownership subsidies have imposed costs that are large and clear. The benefits of such subsidies are, at best, small and vague.
Washington Times | Obama’s designs on American industry
Recently, I saw a big poster that proclaimed “Keep America Strong — Vote Obama-Biden.” I nearly choked. What am I not getting here?
CNN Money | A new type of 401(k): No fund picking allowed
The 401(k) is the best tool you have to save for retirement, but it can be an awfully clumsy one.

Café Hayek | The curious task
Still, I worry that the pursuit of national numerical targets is a bad way to allocate scarce resources. In 1995, President Bill Clinton announced a goal of 8 million new homeowners by 2000. In 2002, President George W. Bush promised 5.5 million new minority homeowners by 2010.
Political Calculations | A First Look at GDP for 2012-Q4
As we expected, economic growth in the United States picked up in the third quarter of 2012, increasing from the annualized growth rate of 1.3% recorded in 2012-Q2 to 2.0% in the BEA's initial GDP estimate for 2012-Q3.
AEI | Misplaced Nordic envy
The United States is now just the 12th most prosperous nation on Earth, apparently. This marks the first time it has ever fallen from the top ten of the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index.
Café Hayek | Destroying Property Does Not Promote Economic Prosperity
I sit at home now (GMU is closed today) awaiting whatever will be the effects of hurricane Sandy.  I’m not sure what those effects will be, although I doubt that they will be as dire as some of the breathless commentaries are predicting.  (I could be proven wrong, of course; I hope that I’m not.)

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | ObamaCare's Costs to the Working Class
It is time to move past the debate over whether ObamaCare was a good or a bad idea. I count myself as an ObamaCare supporter, but this doesn't blind me to the law's flaws. Regardless of who wins the presidential election, bipartisan compromise will be necessary to reform health care in a constructive way.

CATO | California Officials: ObamaCare ‘Exchange’ Will Hike Premiums up to 25%
Under a new rating map approved by state lawmakers, the Department of lnsurance estimated that premiums for similar coverage could increase as much as 25% in West Los Angeles, 22% in the Sacramento area and nearly 13% in Orange County.
Library of Economics | Socialized Medicine Can Kill
A 29-year-old woman will die without a new drug that the NHS is refusing to provide despite the manufacturer offering it to her for free, it emerged today.


Market Watch | Fed's Kocherlakota says rate policy not too easy
The Federal Reserve hasn't overdone easing moves to help the economy, Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, said on Tuesday.

Café Hayek | Hanke on money
This week’s EconTalk is Steve Hanke talking about hyperinflation and the US fiscal situation. This was extremely informative.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Big Storm Opportunism
Our former editor Robert Bartley once quipped (fondly) about the writer Jude Wanniski that he thought a capital-gains tax cut could intercept a Soviet SS-20 missile in mid-flight. We were reminded of that monomania Tuesday as the political left more or less declared in unison that the ravages of Hurricane Sandy prove that America needs bigger government.

Heritage Foundation | Is a Tax Cut Always a Good Thing?
As a matter of principle, there are at least two reasons to dislike taxes and to applaud tax cuts. First, taxes take money away from those who made the money in the first place. For reasons of basic morality, democratic governments should respect individual property rights as much as possible while meeting their constitutional obligations.


CNN Money | Eurozone unemployment hits record high
Unemployment in the eurozone rose in September to a record high of 11.6%, the European Commission's Eurostat statistics agency reported Wednesday..
Politico | Labor releases Tuesday reports on time
Hurricane Sandy failed to push the Labor Department off its schedule for releasing a local jobs report Tuesday, tamping down concerns that the storm would delay the closely watched national unemployment report past its Friday deadline and until after the election.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Evidence Is In: Green Jobs Are a Total Waste
In case anyone has any doubt, the evidence is in. Green jobs training programs are a waste of taxpayer money. So says the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Labor in a report on the $500 million program, published on Thursday.

Calculated Risk | Update: Employment Report expected on Friday
The U.S. Labor Department on Monday said it is “working hard to ensure the timely release” of the October jobs report, saying it intends to released the report on schedule Friday despite Hurricane Sandy.
WSJ | Older Americans’ Complicated Role in the Work Force
The Outlook column in today’s Journal highlighted how an aging labor force is driving down the share of the population that’s working or looking for work, a measure known as the participation rate. But take a look at the charts accompanying the article, and another story jumps out: The participation rate among older Americans is actually rising.


Market Watch | Treasury sees debt limit reached near end of year
The Treasury Department said Wednesday that it expects to reach the debt limit near the end of the year.
Bloomberg | Euro Chiefs Set to Grant Greece Extension Amid Squabbles
Euro-area finance chiefs may grant Greece more time to meet its bailout targets even as they split on whether the country needs another debt writedown and Greek politicians squabble over further austerity measures.