Friday, February 22, 2013

General Economics

CNN Money | Housing rebound continues with strong sales and price gains
The housing rebound continued in January: The pace of home sales stayed strong and prices gained the most since the boom days.
Market Watch | Euro-zone economy to shrink again in 2013: EU
The euro-zone economy will shrink for the second year in a row as a return to growth appears likely to be more gradual than previously expected, the European Commission said Friday in its most recent round of economic forecasts.
WSJ | Home Supply Falls Before Key Selling Season
The number of homes for sale fell to a 13-year low in January, leaving would-be buyers chasing a shrinking supply of homes just before the spring selling season.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNBC | Strike Three! The American Consumer Is Out
Faced with delayed tax refunds, an increased paycheck tax bite and higher gas prices, U.S. consumers are proceeding cautiously and scaling back, a trend that has already impacted one large retailer's bottom line.
CRS | NAFTA at 20: Overview and Trade Effects
The 113th Congress faces numerous issues related to international trade. Canada and Mexico are the first and third largest U.S. trading partners, respectively. With the two countries participating in the negotiations to conclude a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement among the United States and ten other countries, policy issues related to NAFTA continue to be of interest for Congress.
CATO | License to Drill: The Case for Modernizing America’s Crude Oil and Natural Gas Export Licensing Systems
Revolutionary extraction technologies have helped increase the supply of fossil fuels in the United States, driving down prices, spurring economic activity, and potentially reversing the longtime status of the United States as a net energy importer to a significant exporter.

Economist | The ever-receding recovery
A week after official figures showed a steep fall in euro-zone output in late 2012 the European Commission (EC) has added to the gloom by unveiling some gloomy forecasts for 2013. Three months ago the EC envisaged a modest recovery getting under way in the first half of this year. Now that is not expected until the second half of 2013.

Health Care

Politico | The GOP split on Obamacare
The next stage of Obamacare is shaping up into a fight between two camps of Republican governors sure to duke it out in the 2016 presidential primary — ideologues versus pragmatists.
CNN Money | Millions more could join Medicaid as Republican governors cave in
Despite their initial, vehement protests, a growing number of Republican governors are giving their blessing to expanding Medicaid in their states. That opens the door for millions of poor Americans to enroll in government health care coverage, beginning in 2014.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | How Have CBO’s Projections of Spending for Medicare and Medicaid Changed Since the August 2012 Baseline?
In its most recent baseline projections, CBO reduced its estimates of spending for the Medicare and Medicaid programs compared with its estimates in the August 2012 baseline. For the 2013–2022 period, projected spending for those programs is now $382 billion (or 3½ percent) below the agency’s estimates in August 2012.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | When Interest Rates Rise, Watch Out
Can Ben Bernanke fly us through a needle's eye? Minutes released this week from the last Federal Reserve policy meeting suggest evaluations are taking place that "might well lead the Committee to taper or end its purchases before it judged that a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market had occurred." It's about time.
Bloomberg | More Inflation Is the Cure for the Fed’s Impotence
The U.S. Federal Reserve has all but exhausted its most powerful weapon: the ability to lower short- term interest rates. If it wants ammo to fight the next economic slump, it will have to give up its obsession with ultralow inflation.

WSJ | St. Louis Fed’s Bullard: Fed’s ‘Easy’ Policy To Stay For A ‘Long Time’
The Federal Reserve’s ”easy” monetary policy will remain in effect for a “long time,” St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Friday, adding that global economic uncertainty is “way down.”


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NY Times | A Tax That May Change the Trading Game
To the dismay of the United States government — not to mention Wall Street — much of Europe seems poised to begin taxing financial trading as soon as next year.
Fortune | The California tax that terrifies tech
Retroactive tax bills and the elimination of a state tax-break for California's entrepreneurs and early stage investors could force them to move to ... Texas.


Market Watch | Bullard sees jobless rate below 6.5% in June 2014
The unemployment rate could fall below 6.5% in June 2014, the threshold the Federal Reserve has set to consider a rate hike, said St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard on Thursday.


Bloomberg | Americans Back Spending-Cut Delay Amid Budget-Deal Push
Americans want Congress to delay steep spending cuts to give the economic recovery more time to take hold, according to a Bloomberg News poll.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Sequestration was Obama’s idea in the first place
The White House is still trying to stir up a climate of fear over the looming budget sequester that is not supported by the size of its puny spending cuts.
Politico | The great sequester panic
Prepare for the end of food safety as we have known it. For a breakdown in public order. For little children languishing in ignorance. If only Edward Gibbon were here to chronicle the devastation. On March 1, the fabric of our civilization begins to unwind.
CNBC | Automatic Spending Cuts Are a Joke: Druckenmiller
The focus on the sequester is obscuring the real issue which is the exploding cost of entitlements, Stanley Druckenmiller founder of Duquesne Capital, told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Thursday.
Mercatus | Bowles-Simpson 2.0 Won't Be Enough
Erskine Bowles and former senator Alan Simpson, the two co-chairmen of the President's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, put out a new plan to address our long-term debt problems.
Heritage Foundation | High Debt Is a Real Drag
Three teams of economists have separately shown that high government debt has a negative effect on long-term economic growth. When government debt grows, private investment shrinks, lowering future growth and future wages.

WSJ | Young Adults Are Shedding Debt Faster Than Older People
Young adults are cutting debt faster than older people and are less in hock to creditors than a decade ago–despite the ballooning of student loans, a new study shows.