Thursday, March 7, 2013

General Economics

News                                                                                                                             
Market Watch | U.S. fourth-quarter productivity falls 1.9%
The deterioration in fourth-quarter U.S. productivity was a touch less than originally estimated.
Bloomberg | Congress Budget Cuts Damage U.S. Economy Without Aiding Outlook
President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans have stumbled into an approach to deficit reduction that inflicts the pain of economic austerity without the gain of addressing the long-term budget gap.
Market Watch | U.S. trade gap widens in January
The nation’s trade deficit rebounded in January after hitting a three-year low in the previous month due to a swing in oil imports.
Politico | Small defense contractors bearing brunt of cuts
After months of worst-case scenario projections of what $46 billion in across-the-board spending cuts would look like, defense contractors must deal with the reality that cash flow is about to slow down and, in some cases, disappear entirely.
Bloomberg | Consumer Comfort in U.S. Improves to Highest Level This Year
Confidence among U.S. consumers rose for a fifth week, reaching the highest level this year as improving stock and home prices gave households a lift.
Market Watch | 30-year mortgage rate ticks up to 3.52%
The average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up to 3.52% in the week ending March 7 from 3.51% in the prior week, staying near record lows, Freddie Mac said Thursday in its weekly report.
CNBC | Finally! Economic Recovery Is Starting to Pick Up Steam
Stock-market bulls are finally getting some data to back up their bets that the U.S. economic recovery is picking up steam.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | How to Repeat the Mortgage Mess
In September 2008, amid the financial panic and collapse of the housing market, the federal government bailed out and took control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two government-sponsored enterprises that dominated the mortgage market.
WSJ | Fed Reports Modest Growth
The U.S. economy expanded and the labor market improved a little in January and February, amid higher payroll taxes and lingering uncertainty over Washington's spending plans, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.
Mercatus | Resolving Too-Big-To-Fail Banks in the United States
This paper looks at the historical treatment of troubled banks by the FDIC. It examines how the FDIC resolves troubled banks and the sources of funds available to it in the event resolutions are costly. This examination focuses on the treatment of big versus small troubled banks to assess the importance of the TBTF issue.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
Economist | Institutions matter, a lot
"Why Nations Fail", the ambitious work by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson attempting to explain historical differences in economic development levels, is a flawed book.
Heritage Foundation | The EPA: An Impediment to Economic Recovery
The rapid pace and severity of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on the energy sector during the past four years illustrates an ongoing problem—the government’s impediment to an economic recovery.
Calculated Risk | No Government Shutdown on March 27th?
Imagine going six months without a manufactured crisis?  Maybe it will happen. I expect the Senate will restore some of the sequestration cuts, but this sounds like a little progress.

Health Care

News                                                                                                                             
Politico | For Republican governors, Medicaid expansion is hard sell
Republican governors who have embraced health care reform’s massive expansion of Medicaid are finding themselves wearing another unexpected hat: Obamacare salesman-in-chief.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | The Fed's stress test may not be stressful enough
In the past year or so, bank executives have taken to referring to their balance sheets as fortresses. It could be a drinking game.

Monetary

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | ECB Gives Little Hope of More Action
The European Central Bank cut its forecasts for the euro-zone economy this year and next, but President Mario Draghi played down the possibility of taking further steps to revive it, saying the central bank has already done what it could.

Taxes

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | R&D tax credit spurs innovation
Start-ups and small businesses all across this country take chances everyday to turn their ideas into innovations and their innovations into products that can be made right here in America. It’s time our government takes a chance on them.
Daily Caller | Can the IRS handle Obamacare?
This week the IRS announced that it was finally able to begin accepting all individual income tax returns to process refunds — nearly two months after tax season officially began.

Employment

News                                                                                                                             
FOX Business | Report: J.C. Penney Cuts Another 1,500 Jobs
J.C. Penney (JCP) laid off 1,500 store-level department managers and merchandising employees this week, according to a report from the New York Post.
CNN Money | Good jobs news: Initial claims fall
Fewer Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, marking further improvement in the job market.
Washington Times | Democrats propose measure to raise minimum wage
Democrats in Congress proposed legislation Tuesday to boost the federal minimum wage to more than $10, going beyond what President Obama has proposed and arguing the working poor need the extra support amid a sour economy.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NY Times | With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection
American employers have a variety of job vacancies, piles of cash and countless well-qualified candidates. But despite a slowly improving economy, many companies remain reluctant to actually hire, stringing job applicants along for weeks or months before they make a decision.
NBER | Female Labor Supply: Why is the US Falling Behind?
In 1990, the US had the sixth highest female labor participation rate among 22 OECD countries. By 2010, its rank had fallen to 17th.

Budget

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus | There Is Good And Bad Austerity, And Italy Chose Bad
Italians understood the gravity of their economic situation in November 2011 when Mario Monti was appointed, and were prepared to make sacrifices to help pull their country back from a cliff. The political leadership wasted the opportunity, choosing the easier path of higher taxes, and has paid the price at the polls, with a partial defeat.
Forbes | 'We're Getting Away With It' Does Not Excuse Federal Borrowing To Infinity
You know the unpleasant facts.  The federal government has been and will likely continue to run an annual deficit of $1 trillion indefinitely.  It borrows or prints approximately 40% of every dollar spent.
Mercatus | Austerity: The Relative Effects of Tax Increases versus Spending Cuts
In this paper, we argue that the consensus in the academic literature is that the composition of fiscal adjustment is a key factor in achieving successful and lasting reductions in debt-to-GDP ratio. The general consensus is that fiscal adjustment packages made mostly of spending cuts are more likely to lead to lasting debt reduction than those made of tax increases.

Blogs                                                                                                                             
FOX Business | Out of Control Government Spending Continues
It turns out; stopping the federal government from spending money is harder than stopping the snow from falling. That's what we saw in Washington D.C. today, and true to form the government sent everybody home for a day off with pay.