Monday, February 4, 2013

General Economics

National Journal | Hearings, Budget Bill May Spark Hot Week on the Hill
With the next fiscal showdowns looming, Democrats in the House and Senate are set to brainstorm on strategy at out-of-town retreats this week. But potentially contentious action at the Capitol is also on tap.
Bloomberg | Orders to U.S. Factories Rose Less Than Forecast in December
Orders placed with U.S. factories increased less than forecast in December, reflecting a drop in non-durable goods that partly countered gains in construction equipment and computers.
WSJ | Low Rates Force Companies to Pour Cash Into Pensions
Ford Motor Co. expects to spend $5 billion this year shoring up its pension funds, almost as much as the auto maker spent last year building plants, buying equipment and developing new cars.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | America's creeping new normalcy
The Japanese have said “Enough.” After a generation of stagnation, they’ve chosen an all-of-the-above policy to boost economic growth. The nation’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is promising a “three arrows” strategy: bold monetary easing, increased public-works spending, and structural changes, such as regulatory reform.
WSJ | The Economics of Immigration
For the first time in a generation, the debate over immigration has turned to the opportunities, not the burdens. Washington might finally deliver immigration reform, especially as politicians realize that adding more skilled workers is the fastest way to boost the economy and avoid a fiscal crisis.
Washington Post | Japan is caught in a stimulus trap
Japan’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is trying to revive the country’s flagging economy, and we could all learn from the exercise. You may recall that, in the 1980s, Japan was widely anointed as the next economic superpower, displacing the United States. It’s been a long slide since.
AEI | Dodd-Frank creates a bizarro world of housing finance
In Superman comics there exists a Bizarro World where the inhabitants do the opposite of all things normal. For example, a salesman does a brisk trade selling Bizarro bonds: "Guaranteed to lose money for you".

National Journal | How Will Energy Productivity Jumpstart the Economy?
Increasing energy efficiency can be a powerful catalyst to turbo charge our economy and make us more competitive. Efficiency and productivity gains have a long track record of helping consumers and businesses reduce the amount of energy they are using.
Neighborhood Effects | Does stimulus displace private economic activity?
According to Keynesian economic theory, many recessions have little or nothing to do with underlying (structural) economic problems. Instead, recessions are the result of a crisis in confidence. People are simply freaked out and therefore not spending. And when they are not spending, others are not earning income and so the economy suffers.
Reason | Obama's Economic Stagnation
So, U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly plunged in January to its lowest level in more than a year. The U.S. economy unexpectedly posted a contraction in the fourth quarter of 2012—for the first time since the recession—"defying" expectations that economic growth is in our future.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CRS | Medicare, Medicaid, and Other Health Provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
Several policies that would have reduced spending and increased revenues were poised to take effect at the end of 2012; collectively, these were referred to by some as the "fiscal cliff." Had these policies taken effect, CBO projected that the ensuing fiscal contraction would have resulted in a recession in 2013.

Library of Economics | ObamaCare: Two Ominous Signs
In the last few days, there have been two ominous signs about our future under ObamaCare. Both suggest the term "ObamaCare" is more accurate than the more-often used term "Affordable Care Act," because both suggest that the term "affordable" is strongly out of place.
Heritage Foundation | HHS Mandate: Another Offensive Update
The Department of Health and Human Services today released an update of the agency’s “accommodation” to its own anti-conscience mandate under Obamacare. It is another sorry episode in a line of bureaucratic tweaking and unfulfilled promises that again fails to address the serious religious liberty problems caused by the coercive HHS mandate.


Bloomberg | Too Big to Fail Too Hard to Fix Amid Calls to Curb Banks
Top U.S. bank regulators and lawmakers are pushing for action to limit the risk that the government again winds up financing the rescue of one or more of the nation’s biggest financial institutions.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | The great bond massacre (Fortune, 1994)
In a year of low inflation, bondholders have suffered more than $1 trillion in losses. Here's why it happened, and could happen again.
Forbes | Ronald Reagan Would Not Be Fooled By Today's Presumptions of Low Inflation
The day after Ronald Reagan’s election as the 40th president in 1980, Steven Hayward, the author of The Age of Reagan, noted that the “dollar rallied sharply on overseas markets.” The dollar’s rise was in fairness a mere continuation of something that had begun the previous January.


USA Today | Mickelson was right on taxes
Citizens are right to complain about high taxes. It hurts job creators and the little guy.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Caller | The income tax: A century of bigger government
On February 3, 2013, taxpayers will celebrate a very dubious centennial: the 100th anniversary of the Sixteenth Amendment’s ratification. The Sixteenth Amendment gives Congress the power to levy income taxes.


CNN Money | Why unemployment stretches are getting shorter
The average time Americans spent unemployed dropped a record 2.8 weeks in January ... but hold the applause.
CNN Money | Construction jobs are difficult to fill
Construction has been a major driver of hiring in recent months, but now builders are having trouble finding the workers they need.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Friday's Unemployment Report: Our Economic Nightmare Continues
Friday's "Employment Situation" report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) confirmed Thursday's dismal 4Q2012 GDP reading from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Our economic nightmare continues.

Economist | Hanging in
The bad news is that job creation, as widely feared, slowed as 2013 began and some hefty tax hikes took effect. The good news it that history has been rewritten and the slowdown is from a much healthier late-2012 than previously thought.


Roll Call | House GOP Remains on Offense on Budget
House Republicans want to spend this short congressional week hammering President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats over the budget, hoping to ride the momentum of their “no budget, no pay” ploy.