Tuesday, November 20, 2012

General Economics

CNN Money | Banks modify home loans, reduce rates for 300,000
More than 300,000 homeowners have received $26 billion in relief under the big foreclosure abuse settlement reached earlier this year, according to a government report released Monday.
Market Watch | US housing starts highest in more than four years
Construction on new U.S. homes rose 3.6% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000, the highest rate since July 2008, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday.
CNN Money | Eurozone risks rising as outlook darkens
Investors want to believe eurozone policymakers can resolve the debt crisis. But the risk of a prolonged recession is rising, and with it the chances that more action will be needed to shore up the currency area.
Bloomberg | China Foreign Investment Falls for 11th Time in 12 Months
Foreign direct investment in China fell for the 11th time in 12 months as labor costs rose, an economic slowdown threatened to drag growth to a 13-year low and a territorial dispute with Japan weighed on trade.
CNBC | Morgan Stanley’s Doom Scenario: Major Recession in 2013
The global economy is likely to be stuck in the “twilight zone” of sluggish growth in 2013, Morgan Stanley has warned, but if policymakers fail to act, it could get a lot worse.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | Chinese Economic Espionage Is Hurting the Case for Free Trade
Trade and investment with China benefits the U.S. This is evident in choices made by individuals and companies every day to buy Chinese goods and work with Chinese partners. Indeed, American business has been the chief proponent of a sound U.S.–China economic relationship.
WSJ | Why We're Investing in America
Since co-founding the Carlyle Group in 1987, I have had the honor to invest in almost every region of the world, from Shanghai to St. Louis, Sweden to sub-Saharan Africa. Over these 25 years, different regions have stood out at different times as attractive places to deploy capital.
Fortune | Globalism goes backward
They forgot to tell us globalization has a reverse gear. Now companies and countries need to get ready for the 'inside economy.'
Washington Times | Obama’s Keystone conundrum
President Obama claimed throughout the campaign that he would pursue an “all of the above” energy policy. Now that he’s secured a second term, Americans expect him to make good on his promise and allow affordable energy projects to proceed. A powerful signal of his intention to keep his word would be to grant final approval to the Keystone XL pipeline.
WSJ | The Fannie Mae 'Wind Down' That Isn't
At the height of the presidential election campaign, the Treasury Department issued a press release called "Further Steps to Expedite Wind Down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." It highlighted a new policy to scale back the pair's mortgage-investment portfolio at a rate of 15% per year, as opposed to their stated 10% rate.
Businessweek | Five Steps to Fix Shadow Banking
International regulators did the world a service by reporting that shadow banking remains an enormous force in the global financial system. Firms in the sector had $67 trillion in assets last year, the Financial Stability Board has just reported. But given the importance of the lightly monitored companies, the regulators’ prescriptions seem cautious.

Library of Economics | Business Accountability: Good and In-Between
I've had two experiences in the last few weeks in which one business was incredibly accountable and one business was reasonably accountable although its employee was so-so.
Heritage Foundation | 232 Business Leaders Urge Obama, Congress to Reform Entitlements
A letter from 232 multi-industry organizations, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is calling on President Obama and Congress to restructure the nation’s entitlement programs and put them on a path toward financial sustainability.
Economist | Markets, broad and deep
Economists love free trade. Their enthusiasm for it often seems to perplex outsiders. This may be due to the fact that "comparative advantage" isn't the most intuitive idea at first brush. Or it might also be a result of economists' frequent emphasis on a relatively narrow view of the gains from trade.

Health Care

Politico | Next up for Obamacare: Launching the exchanges in 2014
Now that the elections saved the health care law from the threat of repeal, the Obama administration and its backers are turning their attention toward getting the law right — before the next elections come around in 2014.
National Journal | Bold Medicare Reform May Require Going Beyond the CBO Score
Liberal Democrats would rather not see any cuts to entitlement programs — period. Instead, they argue, the U.S. government needs to put policies in place that will bring down the costs of health care overall. Make care cheaper to administer, the argument goes, and Medicare and Medicaid won’t cost the federal government so much.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obamacare entitlement has seduced the young
Taxpayer-funded abortion. Dozens of poison-pill taxes. The precedent that the federal government can order you to buy something you don’t want. If you think any of these points are why the implementation of Obamacare is such a threat to freedom and liberty, think again.

Heritage Foundation | Obamacare Insurance Exchanges: States Have Options
Governor John Kasich (R) is expected to opt not to set up a state Obamacare exchange. This is the right decision for Ohio. The President’s health care law is unworkable and unsustainable. Rejecting the health insurance exchanges, and equally as important, the Medicaid expansion, are two opportunities states have to push back on this law and instead push forward on a better health reform agenda for Ohio.


Market Watch | Bernanke expected to defend ultra-easy policy
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke will travel to New York City on Tuesday to tell markets that the central bank is not having any second thoughts about its ultra-easy monetary policy stance, Fed watchers said on the eve of the speech.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Fed cannot allow temporary inflation spike: Lacker
The Federal Reserve will lose credibility "for decades to come" if it allows inflation to rise temporarily in order to help stimulate the economy, said Jeffrey Lacker, the president of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, on Tuesday.

Washington Times | Obama’s Keystone conundrum
President Obama claimed throughout the campaign that he would pursue an “all of the above” energy policy. Now that he’s secured a second term, Americans expect him to make good on his promise and allow affordable energy projects to proceed. A powerful signal of his intention to keep his word would be to grant final approval to the Keystone XL pipeline.


Politico | Tax loopholes alone can't solve fiscal cliff
“Eliminating loopholes” sounds a lot better than “raising rates”: The tax rate is what I pay, and a loophole is what the other guy gets.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Latest Taxpayer Housing Bust
Vindication is overrated, especially in a losing cause, so it brings no satisfaction to have predicted that the Federal Housing Administration would sooner or later threaten taxpayers. That day has arrived. Safely past the election, the feds announced Friday that the FHA's liabilities exceed its assets by at least $16.3 billion—and the gap could reach $93.7 billion in the worst case.

CATO | In World Bank’s New Tax Report Card, ‘High Effort’ Is a Very Bad Thing
Remember when you were a kid and your parents would either be happy or angry depending on whether your report card said you were trying hard or being a slacker? No matter whether your grades were good or bad, it helped to get an “A for Effort.”
Reuters | Taxes: Why tinkering beats wholesale overhaul
The fiscal debate which is just beginning in Washington is the political equivalent of trench warfare: the two sides have strongly-held positions, and the confrontations are going to be held on a thousand different fronts. In the end, there will be some tax-code changes here, some spending cuts there — but the baseline is the status quo, and the further that a plan deviates from the status quo, the less likely it is to get adopted.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Investors | Unions Kill The Goose That Made Hostess Brands Gold
Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is one of those old fairy tales for children which has a heavy message that a lot of adults should listen to. The labor unions which have driven the makers of Twinkies into bankruptcy, potentially destroying 18,500 jobs, could have learned a lot from that old children's fairy tale.

Calculated Risk | State Unemployment Rates decreased in 37 States in October
Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in October. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rate decreases, seven states posted rate increases, and six states had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.


National Journal | Former Treasury Secretaries Clash Over Cliff
Two former Treasury secretaries from Democratic and Republican administrations on Sunday disagreed over the path Congress should take in negotiating the so-called fiscal cliff.
Bloomberg | French Downgrade Widens Gulf With Germany as Talks Loom: Economy
France’s loss of the top credit rating at Moody’s Investors Service may weaken President Francois Hollande’s leverage in European budget talks and deepen concern in Germany over its neighbor’s lagging competitiveness.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus | BCA Sequester Doesn't Make a Dent in the National Debt
This week’s chart, based on the Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) projections, illustrates the impact of the Budget Control Act’s sequester on the debt trajectory of the United States.
CRS | Does Foreign Aid Work? Efforts to Evaluate U.S. Foreign Assistance
Congress's recent focus on reducing federal spending raises questions about the relative efficiency and effectiveness of all federal programs. In this context, evaluation of foreign assistance programs is of growing interest to many Members of Congress as they scrutinize the Administration's international affairs budget request and debate foreign aid spending priorities.