Tuesday, February 5, 2013

General Economics

FOX Business | Americans Spending Greater Percentage of Income on Gas
Gasoline expenditures for the average U.S. household continued to climb in 2012, returning to levels not seen since 2008.
CNN Money | Texas to California businesses: Move here!
Texas Governor Rick Perry has three words of advice for California businesses: Move to Texas.
Market Watch | Year-on-year house price gain hits six-year high
U.S. home prices grew 0.4% in December to stretch the year-on-year gain to 8.3%, the strongest advance since May 2006, CoreLogic said Tuesday.
Washington Times | Major changes from oil revolution
For Americans who came of age in an era marked by worries about scarce world oil supplies, dominant international oil cartels and unrest in the Middle East, the times are changing — quickly.
Market Watch | ISM services index slips to 55.2% in January
U.S. service-sector companies expanded at a slightly slower pace in January but overall growth remained solid, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | Why a record month for fund inflows makes me cautious
Investors put more money into mutual funds and ETFs during January than in any month since February 2000. And we all remember what happened next.
WSJ | Who Needs Wall Street?
A tectonic shift is under way in how companies raise money—and it will have a profound impact on U.S. investors and markets.
Forbes | The Growth Recession On President Obama's Watch Continues
The U.S. economy remains in the grip of a growth recession, and there is no relief in sight.  Slow growth means continued high unemployment as workers bear the brunt of the burden of President Obama’s failed economic policies. 
Fiscal Times | Nearly Half of U.S. Families Teetering on Edge of Ruin
In the past few years, Americans have certainly learned a thing or two about how quickly disaster can strike.
Reuters | Fixing ‘too-big-to-fail’
The United States is plagued by large corporations with outsized political power. They are “too big to fail.” So if they are about to fail, they get rescued. Many are so big that they can block the laws needed to stop them from destroying the economy or the environment.
Merctaus | Delaware's Public Employees' Retirement System
According to government reports, state public sector pension plans confront a total unfunded liability of $842 billion. Underfunding of this magnitude presents a serious fiscal problem for individual governments and will require a growing amount of budgetary resources to fund benefit promises to retired workers.

CATO | The Long Run Decline in Actual Homeownership
It would be far more accurate to label U.S. federal homeownership policy, U.S. mortgage policy.  For the primary means of “extending” homeownership, via federal policy, has been the massive increase in mortgage debt.  Sadly the actual trend increase in homeownership has been close to nothing since 1960. 
Economist | So many ways to fail
Today was a brutal day for European markets that haven't had many brutal days of late. Bond yields were up around the periphery, and equities were down sharply, led lower by Italian shares.

Health Care

Politico | Kathleen Sebelius: Medicaid expansion’s not ‘bait and switch’
In a message targeted at states undecided about expanding Medicaid under the health care law, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stressed Monday that the White House won’t back away from its promise to fund the expansions, even amid mounting battles over the federal budget.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | 5 entitlement reforms for better fiscal course
American families are used to working with dollar amounts starting with hundreds and thousands. But the fiscal situation of our country requires us to act in terms of billions and trillions.
Market Watch | The taxman is now playing doctor
When they file their returns this year, some Americans will get a medical bill with their tax bill.


Bloomberg | ECB Balance Sheet Shrinks to 11-Month Low as Banks Repay Loans
The European Central Bank’s balance sheet shrank to the smallest in almost a year after euro-area banks started to repay emergency ECB loans.
Market Watch | Banks keep lending standards tight as demand rises
Banks have kept their lending standards fairly tight while demand for business loans, mortgages and car loans has picked up, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve on Monday
WSJ | Bernanke to Give Congressional Testimony Feb. 26
Mark your calendars: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is slated to trek up to Capitol Hill for his biannual “Humphrey-Hawkins” testimony on Feb. 26.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | The Case Against Banking’s Case for Less Capital
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to make banks safer, healthier and able to lend more? There is a way, and it’s called equity.
CNN Money | Should the U.S. kill the penny?
Canada is dropping the use of its penny today. And some economists believe the United States should be following its neighbor's example.
CNBC | Federal Reserve Should Do Less, Not More: Morici
It's time for the Federal Reserve to do less to prop up the recovery and jobs creation.


CNN Money | Tax breaks: Where big money is
If Congress and President Obama are ever going to get serious about tax reform, they will have to rethink some of the biggest and most popular tax breaks.
CNBC | Obama Questions 'Carried Interest' Tax Break
President Barack Obama said on Sunday more tax revenue would be needed to reduce the U.S. deficit and signaled he would push hard to get rid of loopholes such as the "carried interest" tax break enjoyed by private equity and hedge fund managers.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
LA Times | The birth of the income tax
This month marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 16th Amendment, which gave Congress the power to tax American incomes.
Mercatus | Sin Taxes: Size, Growth, and Creation of the Sindustry
With lingering economic doldrums eroding governmental tax bases and strong resistance to proposals for cutting public spending or raising broad-based taxes, many states have begun searching for new revenue sources. Particularly attractive targets for revenue creation are goods deemed by policy makers to be unhealthy, to generate negative externalities, or both.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | January Jobs Report: No Unemployment Thaw in Sight
Unemployment increased to 7.9 percent in January. While the number of Americans looking for work remains above 12 million, the unemployment rate remains at its October level. The long-awaited labor market recovery remained as distant as ever in January.


National Journal | Budget Cuts Loom Over Congressional Retreats
As Senate Democrats begin to strategize on the across-the-board spending reductions set to hit next month and other fiscal issues on Tuesday at their retreat in Maryland, House Republicans are pointing fingers at the White House, claiming that the administration came up with the idea for the sequester cuts in the first place.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Desperate Keynesians
What do you do if the facts don’t support your beliefs? If you are honest, you will rethink what you previously believed. If you are a Keynesian economist, though, like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, you make silly assertions. In his Jan. 31 column, Mr. Krugman said he wants to see “some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded.”