Wednesday, February 27, 2013

General Economics

Bloomberg | Euro-Area Economic Confidence Rises More Than Estimated: Economy
Economic confidence in the euro area increased more than economists forecast in February, adding to signs that the 17-nation currency bloc may be emerging from a recession.
CNN Money | Wealth inequality between blacks and whites worsens
The wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled over the past 25 years, due largely to inequality in home ownership, income, education and inheritances, according to a new study by Brandeis University.
Bloomberg | Confidence Jump With Housing Points to U.S. Growth: Economy
Purchases of new homes surged in January by the most in two decades and consumer confidence jumped this month, signs of a rebound in U.S. economic growth at the start of 2013.
Bloomberg | Orders for U.S. Non-Transportation Goods Jump Most in a Year
Orders for U.S. durable goods excluding transportation equipment climbed in January by the most in a year, indicating business investment is holding up.
CNN Money | The myth of the Great Rotation
As investors begin to dip back into the stock market, chatter about a so-called Great Rotation has been growing louder.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | Entitlement reform key to U.S. future
As the sequester blame game hits fever pitch this week, Republicans’ stance on taxes is simply indefensible, falling hundreds of billions short of even their own prior positions. But as Democrats, we also share a large portion of responsibility for the coming cuts to domestic discretionary spending, as the party has decided in both action and rhetoric that meaningful fixes to the major entitlement programs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are off-limits.
Washington Times | Crowding out the future
Big-spending liberals will soon run out of other people’s money. This should scare them straight. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, food stamps and other welfare programs reaching deep into American pockets will soon leave no money for anything else. Yet the White House and congressional Democrats are determined not to touch anything.

WSJ | About 30% of Benefit Recipients Are Disabled
Nearly a third of Americans getting government assistance say they are disabled, new research shows.
Calculated Risk | MBA: Mortgage Applications Decrease
The Refinance Index decreased 3 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent from one week earlier and is at its lowest level since the week ending December 28, 2012.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Obamacare and Doctor Shortages: A Bad Situation Worsens
With the implementation of the 2,800 page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Affordable Care Act"), the projected access of 34 million additional Americans to health insurance, along with the growth in both the general and aging population, is placing greater emphasis on the need for an increase in the number of primary care physicians ("PCPs").


Bloomberg | Bernanke Defends Asset Buying as Benefits Outweigh Risks
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke defended the central bank’s unprecedented asset purchases, saying they are supporting the expansion with little risk of inflation or asset-price bubbles.
Washington Times | Banks see 2nd-most profitable year
The U.S. banking industry enjoyed its second-most profitable year in history in 2012, according to a new report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but that may not be enough to save the jobs of thousands of bankers.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | The Bernanke inflation record revisited
While being questioned in his Semi-Annual Report to Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was criticized as dovish for his expansion of the Fed's balance sheet. In response, Bernanke retorted, "You called me a dove ... My inflation record is the best of any of the governors in the post-war period."
Real Clear Markets | The Fed Shouldn't Regulate What It Doesn't Understand
Fed Chairman Bernanke is making one of his semi-annual appearances before Congress this week to testify on monetary policy. Yesterday, he appeared before the Senate Banking Committee and today he will face the House Financial Services Committee.
CNN Money | Bernanke: There is no stock bubble
Stocks have recently been hovering near a five-year high, but Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says a stock market bubble is not in the works.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Leveraging taxes with sequestration
President Obama was back on the campaign trail Tuesday, preaching doom and gloom over the approaching budget cuts that will likely take place in March.
Fortune | The hidden tax Washington doesn't want you to know
Okay, middle-class taxpayers: Listen up. Our national government in Washington is screwing you again. This time the screwing involves the way that two new income tax surcharges, supposedly designed to affect only the "rich," will reach deeper and deeper into the middle class unless something is done now to rein them in.
NY Times | In Wall St. Tax, a Simple Idea but Unintended Consequences
Some say that a financial transaction tax is a cost-free way to kill many a bird with one stone — raising revenue, preventing financial crashes and making markets safer. But advocates of this neat idea conveniently ignore the century of less-than-successful experience with this tax, including New York State’s own failed attempt.
CRS | Medical Device Excise Tax Regulations
This report provides a brief overview of the recently enacted Treasury regulations and the legal implications of the regulations.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Jobs Crisis Is About Much More Than Unemployment
President Obama has positioned himself as champion of the middle class. In his State of the Union speech, he declared that it was "our generation's task" to "reignite the true engine of America's economic growth-a rising, thriving middle class." Repeatedly, he has appealed to the middle class as a means of justifying tax increases, rolling back the sequester, or expanding government programs. But how have middle class workers fared since the start of the recession in 2007?


CNN Money | Bernanke: Spending cuts add 'significant' burden to recovery
Automatic budget cuts set to go into effect this week will slow the already sluggish U.S. economy even further, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned senators Tuesday.
Market Watch | Cantor expects fiscal impasse for 'weeks, months'
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Wednesday did not express any optimism that a deal will be reached to avert the sequester ahead of Friday's deadline. "We are going to be mired in some of these fiscal issues for the foreseeable future -- the next several weeks, months," the Virginia Republican said at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Obama and the Sequester Scare
President Obama's message could not be clearer: Life as we know it in America will change dramatically on March 1, when automatic cuts are imposed to achieve $85 billion in government-spending reductions. Furloughed government employees, flight delays and criminals set free are among the dire consequences the president has predicted. If the Washington Monument weren't already closed for repairs, no doubt it too would be shut down.