Friday, January 31, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Business Activity in Chicago Area Expanded More Than Forecast
Business activity in the Chicago area expanded more than forecast in January, adding to signs that manufacturing gains will be sustained in 2014.
Politico | John Boehner blasts Barack Obama on trade
House Speaker John Boehner jabbed at President Barack Obama on trade policy Thursday, accusing the president of doing too little to get his own party to clear the way for a pair of blockbuster deals that Republicans already support.
Bloomberg | Consumer Spending in U.S. Increases More Than Forecast
Consumer spending in the U.S. climbed more than forecast in December even as incomes stagnated, showing the economy needs to generate bigger gains in employment to boost the expansion.
Market Watch | 5 misleading figures investors should ignore
We live in a world of “big data.” And while I love arcane baseball sabermetrics and the endless amount of FRED charts that clog my Twitter stream... not all the numbers in our lives are useful.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | Why stronger GDP growth isn't creating more jobs
Over the past decade, a percentage point jump in GDP has created about 115,000 extra jobs a month. These days it's about half that.
Politico | Keystone XL pipeline report coming Friday
The State Department is set to release a final environmental analysis of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline on Friday, according to sources, setting the stage for a months-long endgame in one of the Obama administration’s most intractable environmental controversies.
WSJ | Less Government, Faster Growth
It's a sign of how lackluster the current economic recovery has been that Thursday's news of 3.2% growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 was greeted with cheers and relief. The economy has now grown at 2.5% or faster for three quarters, and the pace in the last six months is the fastest since 2003-2004 following George W. Bush's tax cuts on capital gains, dividends and top incomes.
Real Clear Markets | Laughing Off 'Year Of Recovery' Pretense
With the advance release of the fourth quarter's GDP figure estimated at just above 3%, it contrasts very sharply with the estimates of payroll growth, particularly in the latter weeks of that quarter.
Washington Times | Freeing children from bad teachers
California is a national trendsetter, and usually not in a good way. A trial now under way in Los Angeles gives the state a chance to redeem itself by changing a system that offers iron-clad job security to the laziest and most incompetent teachers.
Boston Globe | Income gap? Not many are worried
The president has been banging this populist drum for years. As a candidate in 2008, he famously told “Joe the Plumber” that it was good for everybody when the government acts to “spread the wealth around.”
NBER | Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality
Data from the United States Census Bureau suggests there has been a rise in assortative mating. Additionally, assortative mating affects household income inequality.

WSJ | Mortgage Volumes Hit Five Year Low
The volume of home mortgages originated during the fourth quarter fell to its lowest level in five years, according to an analysis published Thursday by Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry newsletter.
Library of Economics | Confusion about Income Inequality
Economists can offer explanations for why inequality has risen and what might reverse it, but they cannot advance positive reasons for what the right level of inequality is; this is [a] function of social preferences outside the realm of empirical or even theoretical economics.

Health Care

National Journal | Where Obamacare Is Succeeding… and Where It’s Falling Short
Two months before the close of the Obamacare open-enrollment period, exchanges in some states are picking up high portions of eligible members, according to new analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. But elsewhere, the exchanges are flailing.
National Journal | HHS Reports $380M in Obamacare Savings
An Obamacare program designed to alter America's health care delivery system has saved hundreds of millions of dollars in health care expenditures, the Obama administration said Thursday.
CNN Money | Obamacare deadbeats: Some don't pay up
Around one in five people who picked health insurance policies on the state and federal exchanges last year haven't paid their first month's premiums, according to insurers polled by CNNMoney. These folks will likely see their policy selection canceled and they'll be left uninsured.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CRS | Medicaid: An Overview
Medicaid is a means-tested entitlement program that in FY2012 financed the delivery of primary and acute medical services as well as long-term services and supports to an estimated 57 million people, and cost states and the federal government $431 billion.
CATO | The ACA: A Train Wreck and a Lie
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama repeated one of the biggest lies behind the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and it wasn’t that you could keep your health-care plan or your current doctor. In fact, most people don’t even know it’s a lie.

Heritage Foundation | Uninsured Americans' Hardening View of Obamacare
Two new public opinion polls show uninsured Americans—a group considered critical for Obamacare’s success—are hardening their views about the President’s health care law.


Market Watch | Euro-zone inflation unexpectedly falls to 0.7%
Inflation in the euro-zone dropped to 0.7% in January, marking an unexpected decline and adding more pressure on the European Central Bank to act to fight deflationary tendencies.
WSJ | U.S. Banks Start to Ease Limits on Lending
Big banks are beginning to loosen their tight grip on lending, creating a new opening for consumer and business borrowing that could underpin a brightening economic outlook.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NY Times | Bernanke Should Be Thanked
Ben S. Bernanke ascended to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve eight years ago as a little-known — albeit distinguished — Princeton economics professor who had notched just three years of federal public service.


Market Watch | Bundesbank floats idea of wealth tax — for others
Debtor countries in southern Europe have every reason to be grateful to the rich lender countries in the north: they are full of free advice.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | A century of tax turmoil from IRS
Because the income-tax amendment didn’t become effective until late February 1913, it meant that the first filing in 1914 was based upon only 10 months of income (March through December), not the entire year of 1913.


Politico | President Obama to focus on long-term unemployed
President Barack Obama on Friday will call on companies to help the long-term unemployed find jobs and issue a presidential memorandum pledging the federal government to do the same.
CNN Money | Minimum wage since 1938
When the federal minimum wage first became law in 1938, it was 25 cents. Adjusted for inflation, that would be worth $4.13 today. Scroll over the chart to see historical minimum wage amounts, and their corresponding values in today’s dollars.
Market Watch | Fourth-quarter Employment Cost Index rises 0.5%
The employment cost index, which measures the price of U.S. labor, rose 0.5% in the fourth quarter. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a seasonally adjusted 0.4% gain, following a 0.4% increase in the third quarter.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Almost Everything You Have Been Told About The Minimum Wage Is False
The Democrats, their union supporters, and liberals in general are making a hard and concerted push for an increase in the minimum wage. President Obama mentioned the subject prominently in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and even promised to take executive action to increase the minimum wage federal contractors must pay their workers starting in 2015.


FOX Business | Public Pension Liabilities Swell
More than a quarter of U.S. states had public pension liabilities that were greater than their total revenues in fiscal 2012, Moody's Investors Service said in a report on Thursday that also indicated the struggle to pay for public employee retirement had peaked.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CRS | Federal Employees' Retirement System: Benefits and Financing
Most civilian federal employees who were hired before 1984 are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

CATO | We Need a Debate about the Size of Government, but It Helps to Understand Basic Fiscal Facts
Self awareness is supposed to be a good thing, so I’m going to openly acknowledge that I have an unusual fixation on the size of government.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Consumer Confidence in U.S. Fell Last Week to Two-Month Low
Consumer confidence dropped last week to the lowest level in two months as more Americans said it was not a good time to shop.
Politico | Why the rich are freaking out
The co-founder of one the nation’s oldest venture capital firms fears a possible genocide against the wealthy. Residents of Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side say the progressive mayor didn’t plow their streets as a form of frosty revenge. And the co-founder of Home Depot recently warned the Pope to pipe down about economic inequality.
CNN Money | Economy grew solidly in fourth quarter
The U.S. economy ended the year with solid growth, driven by stronger consumer spending and exports.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area Economic Confidence Increases for Ninth Month
Euro-area economic confidence increased for a ninth month in January, led by the services industry, adding to evidence that the 18-nation currency bloc’s recovery is gaining traction.
Market Watch | Pending-home-sales index drops 8.7% in December
A gauge of pending home sales dropped in December to the lowest level in more than two years, signaling that upcoming activity may slow down, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNBC | The myth of wage stagnation
Income inequality topped the agenda at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland last week. The issue is equally prominent here in the U.S., as was evident in President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.
WSJ | Economies on Steroids Try to Play Without Them
Tuesday night was the State of the Union address, but an announcement this morning from the Commerce Department may be the most important news from Washington this week.

WSJ | Economists React: Fourth Quarter GDP ‘Pretty Impressive’
Economists and others weigh in on the 3.2% growth in gross domestic product at a seasonally adjusted annual rate.
Café Hayek | Real prosperity
This week’s EconTalk is one of my favorite episodes in a long time–Nina Munk talking about her book, The Idealist, the story of Jeffrey Sachs’s attempts to end poverty.
Library of Economics | Keynesian confirmation bias
When you read Keynesian blogs you get the impression that Keynesians think their model has been somehow confirmed by the events of the last few years. And yet figuring out what their model actually predicts can be maddeningly difficult, like nailing jello to the wall. Today I'll use some examples from Paul Krugman, who is the leader of blogosphere Keynesians. But as far as I can see most of the others are just as hard to pin down.
WSJ | Japan Sees Trouble Ahead as Trade Pact Stalls
Until earlier this month, Japan had been under strong pressure from the U.S. to open its market as part of the highly contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations. On Thursday, Japan appeared to be suddenly let off the hook.

Health Care

National Journal | Inside House Leadership's 2014 Obamacare Strategy
Conservatives want a replacement bill, but GOP sources say Boehner's looking for a small package of poll-tested health provisions for the election-year agenda.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obamacare rationing coming to health care near you
Many Americans began this month with new health coverage purchased through Obamacare’s exchanges. At least, they thought they did — scores did not receive insurance cards or other confirmation that they actually had coverage.
CBO | CBO’s Analysis of Health Care Policy
Presentation by Doug Elmendorf, CBO Director, to the Healthcare Leadership Council

Heritage Foundation | Q&A: What Is This “myRA” Retirement Account Obama Announced?
In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a new type of retirement savings account he wanted the Treasury to create. He signed the executive order today. We asked Romina Boccia, Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs, what this is all about. — Amy Payne
Heritage Foundation | Obama Silent on Reforming Medicare Payments
In his optimistic State of the Union assessment of health care challenges last night, President Obama failed to mention one dire prospect: the 24-percent pay cut Medicare physicians will face March 31 if Congress doesn’t act.  The sharp decrease in reimbursement is set to be imposed by a complicated formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) as part of a decades-long effort to control Medicare’s exploding costs.


Bloomberg | Fed Policy Makers Rally Behind Tapering QE as Yellen Era Begins
Federal Reserve policy makers trimmed bond buying for a second straight meeting, uniting behind a strategy of gradual withdrawal from Ben S. Bernanke’sunprecedented easing policy as Janet Yellen prepares to succeed him as chairman.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | The Fed at 100: A Primer on Monetary Policy
This paper provides a brief overview of the Fed’s structure, purpose, and operations and discusses the implications of its recent policies.


CNN Money | How to lower your tax bill
Every year Americans scramble to shave dollars off their federal tax bill in December -- then miss out on a huge opportunity come January. The beginning of the year is also a great time to strategize, since you can reap the benefits of any changes you make for a full 12 months ahead.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Obamacare Could Make Tax-Filing Season Devastating for Obama
Obamacare could make the coming tax filing season devastating for the administration. When W-2s start arriving, they are not only going to remind "the wealthy" of how much more they are paying to the government, but also those who saw their payroll taxes return to their full level. Together, these higher tax payments threaten to act like the hammer hitting the anvil that Obamacare has become for the White House.
FOX Business | Be Wary of this Season’s Tax Filing Scams
The 2013 tax filing season opens on Jan. 31, but it’s not just the IRS that is ready for your returns--so are scammers.

WSJ | Households Spend More on Healthy Foods When They Get Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit was created in the 1970s as an incentive for low-income Americans to stay in the workforce. It may also help them eat healthier food, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.


National Journal | The Conservative Ideas That Could Solve Chronic Unemployment
If the president embraces some conservative solutions and Republicans want to do anything other than repeal Obamacare, they could agree on a jobs package.
Bloomberg | Jobless Claims in U.S. Climbed More Than Forecast Last Week
Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose more than forecast last week to the highest level in more than a month, partly reversing a post-holiday slump.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Obama's Federal Wage Hike Will Hurt Taxpayers and the Poor
Just hours before delivering his annual State of the Union address, President Obama signed an executive order increasing the minimum wage paid by federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10. The order affects wages paid under any new or renewed contracts.
Washington Times | Not ‘hope and change,’ but real jobs in oil patch
As a whole, America’s job numbers are appalling. At least 12.6 million people have dropped out of the work force. Millions of Americans who had a job when George W. Bush was president don’t have one now. Future job prospects look abysmal, clear across the demographics — men, women, teens, minorities, recent graduates and seniors.
Forbes | Whip Unemployment Now! Obama's New Gambit Worthy of President Ford
In his Jan. 28 State of the Union speech, President Obama proved again that his grasp of economics is on a par with that of a not-particularly attentive student taking his first course in the subject. Obama repeated the economic urban legend that women are underpaid, restated his idea to saw off the bottom rung of the economic ladder by raising the minimum wage, and tasked Joe Biden with fixing American job training.
AEI | An Obama policy the tea party should love
In Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Obama put forth at least one initiative that is useful, should arouse bipartisan support and deserves to be taken much further than he suggested. I am talking about his plan to force federal contractors to pay workers a minimum of $10.10 per hour, instead of the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

CATO | Minimum Wage Laws Kill Jobs
There are seven European Union (EU) countries with no minimum wage (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, and Sweden). If we compare the levels of unemployment in these countries with EU countries that impose a minimum wage, the results are clear – a minimum wage leads to higher levels of unemployment.


Market Watch | Republicans don't want debt default, Boehner says
House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said defaulting on the national debt is "the wrong thing." "We don't want to do that," Boehner told reporters at a House Republican retreat in Maryland.

Heritage Foundation | U.S. Debt Poses a Greater Barrier to Economic Opportunity Than Income Inequality
President Obama has made income inequality the forefront issue on his 2014 agenda. However, more government is not the solution to increasing economic opportunity in the United States.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

General Economics

National Journal | Full Text: President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address
A transcript of President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address
CNN Money | Obama's soft sell on income inequality
President Obama's State of the Union speech was billed as focusing on income inequality, an issue he's promised to devote himself to addressing in 2014.
Bloomberg | Obama Seeks Trade Deals in Backing U.S. Companies’ Goals
President Barack Obama urged Congress to back two of the top priorities of U.S. multinational corporations: broader authority for his administration to negotiate trade deals along with changes to immigration laws.
WSJ | Obama Seeks to Borrow More from Poor, Middle Class
As the Federal Reserve begins to wind down its Quantitative Easing program, which lends money to the U.S. Treasury among others, President Obama on Tuesday night unveiled a new way to finance the federal government's rising debt. In his State of the Union address, Mr. Obama pitched a new product aimed at workers who do not have 401(k) plans.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | State of the Union 2014: Obama touts ‘MyRA’ retirement savings proposal
President Barack Obama on Wednesday plans to direct the Treasury Department to create a new retirement investment product called a “MyRA,” which the administration described as a “starter savings account” backed by the U.S. government.
Forbes | White House Income Equality Agenda Makes War On Progress
In tonight’s State of the Union Address, Mr. Obama will attempt to shake off the most disastrous year of his presidency by doubling down on his fight to equalize our incomes. Apparently, his advisors convinced him he can breathe fresh life into tax and welfare programs by hijacking the word “opportunity” from the other side of the aisle without bothering to understand what it means.
Washington Times | Obama is wrong that raising minimum wage will fix income inequality
There has been much discussion about income inequality recently. President Obama seems to think that we can make significant progress in eliminating poverty by raising the minimum wage, as his State of the Union address highlighted.
WSJ | Emerging Markets Take Largest Share of International Investment in 2013
Developing economies claimed the largest share of international investments made by businesses for the second consecutive year in 2013 and are likely to do so again in 2014 despite slower growth, political uncertainty and turbulence in their financial markets, according to figures issued Tuesday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Real Clear Markets | 3 Key Policy Areas That Will Affect the Global Economy In 2014
2014 will be another year in which it is manifest that government decisions are critically important for economies and markets around the globe. There was a period of a decade or more leading up to the financial crisis in which markets stopped focusing so much on governments, because the business cycle was apparently permanently muted by wise central bank policies and the governments of most leading economies were pursuing increasingly laissez faire policies that involved minimal intervention in the economy.

WSJ | Vital Signs: The 15%ers Are Feeling Better — and That’s Good for Economy
U.S. consumers are more upbeat about the economy in January. The Conference Board said Tuesday its confidence index increased 3.2 points to 80.7 in January, besting the 77.6 expected by economists.
Heritage Foundation | How Obamanomics Promotes Inequality
The great Obama contradiction on the economy is this: he takes credit for the improved economy, but openly admits that in this recovery almost all of the gains have gone to the very rich.
CATO | Farm Bill Spending Up 49 Percent
Under cover of SOTU media coverage, Congress is set to sneak through the first big farm bill since 2008. The Congressional Budget Office released its estimate of the bill’s cost: $956 billion over 2014-2023. It would thus mean almost $1 trillion more borrowed from U.S. and foreign creditors, adding more weight to the anchor pulling down the living standards of our children and grandchildren.
Calculated Risk | Completed Foreclosures Down 24% in 2013
According to CoreLogic, there were 620,111 completed foreclosures across the country in 2013 compared to 820,498 in 2012, a decrease of 24 percent.

Health Care

CNN Money | Obama: 9 million covered by health reform. Well maybe.
In his first State of the Union since a major provision of his signature health care reform act took effect, President Obama took time out to praise the achievements of Obamacare.
CNN Money | How Obamacare affects your bottom line
When the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, passed four years ago, Jan. 1, 2014, was the law's D-day.


Bloomberg | Fed Decision Day Guide From Emerging Markets to FOMC Voter Shift
Here’s what to look for when the Federal Open Market Committee releases a statement today at 2 p.m. after a two-day meeting in Washington. It will be the last meeting for Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who isn’t scheduled to give a press conference.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Federal Reserve's 'Too-Big-To-Fail' Paternalism
The Federal Reserve on January 24 issued guidance for "eight domestic bank holding companies that may pose elevated risk to U.S. financial stability." The guidance, which is part of Dodd-Frank resolution planning, is intended to "clarify" expectations for these companies and guide the Federal Reserve staff charged with supervising them. But the fact that such guidance is necessary illustrates what is wrong with our financial system and its regulatory framework.
Fortune | Why low inflation hurts the 99%
Instead of just looking at inflation, the Fed should consider the gap between income and inflation. And the gap is wide.
WSJ | IMF Official Says Emerging Markets Must Act to Tame Inflation
A top International Monetary Fund official on Tuesday said emerging markets must act quickly to tame rampant inflation, but said there is no need to worry yet about a global market selloff.

WSJ | What to Watch for From Fed Meeting
The Federal Reserve’s policy committee on Wednesday wraps up its latest meeting, Ben Bernanke’s last as chairman. The Fed’s policy statement comes out at 2 p.m. EST. Mr. Bernanke won’t hold a news conference after the meeting and Fed officials won’t release new economic projections. Here’s what to watch for:


Politico | Puff, puff: Pass the tax break
Pot shops are banned from writing off labor, rent, health insurance, advertising costs or other expenses that most companies deduct to lower their tax bills. The result is a tax rate as high as 80 percent, according to the industry, for those in the 20 states with legal medical marijuana and the two states with recreational pot.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | Tax Revolt! It’s Time to Learn from Past Success
For about 15 years now, the federal government, in all its myriad activities, has been in major expansion mode. The Federal Reserve, the regulatory apparatus, the tax code, the police and surveillance machinery of the state — all of these extensions of the government have broadened their reach, power, and ambition in significant fashion since the late 1990s.

Library of Economics | Marginal Tax Rates: Singing Taxman to My Class
Often, when I teach my classes about marginal tax rates, I give them a little history about such rates. They're shocked when I tell them that the top U.S. federal marginal tax rate on individual income in the 1950s and early 1960s was 91 percent.


Market Watch | Real unemployment rate is still too high for the Fed
For investors, the biggest risk right now is that the Federal Reserve will lose its nerve and raise interest rates too soon. A premature tightening of policy could undermine the still-fragile economic growth, crash the market and keep millions of people out of work.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Obama's Federal Pay Hike Will Lay a Wet Blanket On Small Business
President Obama's State of the Union announcement that he'll sign an executive order increasing the minimum worker wage for federal contracts from $7.25/hour to $10.10 drew warm applause. This was interesting considering an earlier applause line from the President in which he said "Let's do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America."
AEI | On unemployment, Obama's small ball won't cut it
When asked which of four phrases best describes how they feel about the remainder of President Obama’s second term, a combined 59 percent of Americans say they are “pessimistic and worried” or “uncertain and wondering,” versus only 40 percent who say they are “optimistic and confident” or “satisfied and hopeful.”

WSJ | Who Has a Higher Minimum Wage Than the Federal Rate?
President Barack Obama plans to act unilaterally to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors, while pressing Congress for a broader increase in the State of the Union address.
WSJ | Obama’s Minimum Wage Order: How Much Impact?
Republican lawmakers challenged President Barack Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors, suggesting it would have little impact on workers and could exacerbate partisan gridlock.
WSJ | State Unemployment Ranged From 2.6% to 9.1% in December
Thirty states added jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell in 39, signs of steady improvement in the labor market across much of the U.S.


Politico | GOP ready to surrender on debt ceiling
The most senior figures in the House Republican Conference are privately acknowledging that they will almost certainly have to pass what’s called a clean debt ceiling increase in the next few months, abandoning the central fight that has defined their three-year majority.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus | Updated: High Levels of Government Spending Become the Status Quo
This week’s charts show the amount of real (2005) federal dollars spent per capita over the past 68 years with updated data. After adjusting for population and inflation, the data show that federal outlays have, with a few exceptions, grown at a staggering pace since 1948. 
CBO | Final Sequestration Report for Fiscal Year 2014
After the end of a session of Congress, CBO is required by law to issue a report that provides estimates of the caps on discretionary budget authority in effect for each fiscal year through 2021.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

General Economics

FOX Business | Working Class Americans Rely Most Heavily on Food Stamps
The recession may have been officially over since September 2010, but Americans are still feeling the pain. So much so that working-age people are, for the first time, the majority of those who rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the U.S.
Politico | Keystone: Why the wait?
The Obama administration is nearing a crucial milestone in its review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, but one vexing question remains: What took so long?
FOX Business | Durable Goods Orders See Biggest Drop Since July '13
Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods unexpectedly fell in December as did a gauge of planned business spending on capital goods, which could cast a shadow on an otherwise bright economic outlook.
CNN Money | Home prices show signs of topping out
Home prices are showing signs of topping out: The S&P/Case-Shiller index posted its first month-over-month decline in 10 months on Tuesday.
WSJ | Europe Can Be Optimistic—in the Long Term
The global elite can be a downbeat bunch. Old-timers at last week's World Economic Forum in Davos insisted this year's gathering was the most optimistic since before the global financial crisis, given the backdrop of economic recovery and the apparent easing of the euro crisis. Yet it was a strange sort of optimism, accompanied as it was by plenty of anxiety about an array of risks from the developed and emerging world that participants fretted could at any moment undo the recovery.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Obama's State Of The Union Address: If You Like Your Income Inequality, You Can Keep It
President Barack Obama was right when he said, “The long-term unemployed are not lazy. They’re not lacking in motivation. They’re coping with the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in generations.” He should know, his policies prolong the situation.
CNN Money | Farm bill ends subsidies, cuts food stamps
A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Monday agreed to a deal on a farm bill that would end direct subsidies to farms in favor of crop insurance.
Forbes | Here's The Real Reason Markets Are Diving
Stocks are falling because of brewing troubles in emerging markets. And those troubles are the result of economic ignorance: too many central bankers don’t know how to defend their currencies, which are under attack. If they don’t get their act together, we could have another big financial crisis like that which hit in Asia in 1997-98.
National Review | The Inequality Bogeyman
During a recent lunch in a restaurant, someone complimented my wife on the perfume she was wearing. But I was wholly unaware that she was wearing perfume, even though we had been in a car together for about half an hour driving to the restaurant.
AEI | Is the economic crisis In Greece really over?
A growing chorus of senior European policymakers, including ECB President Mario Draghi and European Commission President Jose Barroso, keep reassuring us that the worst phase of the Euro crisis is over. They also keep telling us that there is now no risk of any country leaving the Euro. Evidently they are not paying much attention to the recent worsening in political and economic developments in Greece.

WSJ | One Cause of Inequality: More Rich Marrying One Another
Income inequality is a hot topic in Washington. President Barack Obama is expected to highlight inequality and economic mobility in his State of the Union address Tuesday.
CATO | Is School Choice Worth Celebrating? A Look at the Evidence
When I began studying education policy back in the early 1990s, parent-driven education markets were generally thought of as a new, radical and speculative adventure—uncharted waters where, heaven help us, “thar be monstars.” That was a mistaken view then, and it’s positively absurd now.
WSJ | Exports Good, Imports Bad? It’s Not So Simple
For countries in Europe right now, there is a widely accepted path to economic success: become more German. Exports, the heart of Germany’s success in driving economic growth, are good. Imports? They helped cause Europe’s debt crisis, because countries had to borrow more to fund external deficits. Not good.
CATO | A Primer on State of the Union Economics
Until recently, President Obama’s December 4 “Remarks on Economic Mobility” were thought to preview his State of the Union address by defining “dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility” as “the defining challenge of our time.”  
Library of Economics | German President defends the market economy
Germany's President, Joachim Gauck, has given a talk at the Walter Eucken Institute. The Eucken Institute keeps the tradition of the Freiburg school of economics alive. For an introduction to Ordoliberalism, you may give a look to this paper by Viktor Vanberg. Also, Larry White has a very interesting (and most amusing) chapter on Ordoliberalism in his magnificent The Clash of Economic Ideas.
Café Hayek | Pondering Modern Personal Financial Wealth
Bill Gates’s net worth is about $72 billion, having made his money in the market through voluntary exchange.  Bill Gates is America’s richest human being, measured in monetary terms.  What does this fact mean?

Health Care

National Journal | Republicans Unveil Their Obamacare Replacement
A trio of Senate Republicans on Monday introduced their plan to replace Obamacare with a new system that is built largely around making individuals responsible for a higher portion of their health care costs.
FOX Business | What Deadline? Most Americans Unaware of ObamaCare Deadline
The White House, lawmakers, policy analysts and the health-care and insurance industries are all keeping a watchful eye on March 31 as it brings to an end the enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.But that’s about all who is aware of the approaching deadline—which could be a problem since the law relies on consumer participation.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CRS | Individual Mandate under ACA
Beginning in 2014, ACA requires most individuals to maintain health insurance coverage or otherwise pay a penalty. Specifically, most individuals will be required to maintain minimum essential coverage, which is a term defined in ACA and its implementing regulations and includes most private and public coverage (e.g., employer-sponsored coverage, individual coverage, Medicare, and Medicaid, among others).

Heritage Foundation | New Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Say Obamacare Is Poorly Performing
Roughly two-thirds of Americans polled in a new survey by the Associated Press-GfK say the health law isn’t doing well. Of the respondents who have tried, or live with someone who tried  to sign up for health coverage through Obamacare’s state or federal-run insurance exchanges, 71 percent had problems, the AP said in a news article about the poll.


Bloomberg | Yellen Faces Test Bernanke Failed: Ease Bubbles
Janet Yellen probably will confront a test during her tenure as Federal Reserve chairman that both of her predecessors flunked: defusing asset bubbles without doing damage to the economy.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obama wants to tax the world
The administration and many in Congress seem to have learned nothing from the Obamacare disaster. Now that they have destroyed the world’s best health care system, they are in the process of further destroying what was at one time a very functional global financial system.
Mercatus | The IRS Puts America on Hold
The IRS’s mission statement is to “provide America's taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.” Yet the Economix blog of the New York Times recently posted the following graph on declining performance of IRS customer service representatives (CSR). The data come from a series of annual reports released by Taxpayer Advocate Service—an independent organization within the IRS. 


Politico | State of the Union 2014: Obama to raise minimum wage for federal workers
President Barack Obama will act to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10, fulfilling a big wish for liberals, the White House announced.
FOX Business | Job Insecurity: The American Worker's Reality
While the U.S. economy showed some signs of improvement last year, many American workers are not feeling these improvements when it comes to their careers, according to a new poll conducted by Op4G for
CNN Money | The state of the minimum wage
President Obama is expected to shine a spotlight on the minimum wage in his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, as pressure mounts in Washington to create a framework to address inequality.
CNN Money | Companies to pledge help for long-term jobless
A handful of large corporations say they plan to sign on to a White House plan aimed at boosting hiring of the long-term unemployed.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Obama Tries New Tack for Long-Term Jobless
President Barack Obama is trying to accomplish through voluntary pledges what many lawmakers have tried to do for years with little success: banning companies from refusing to hire people just because they have been out of work for a while.


WSJ | U.S. Budget Proposal to Be Released March 4
The White House on Thursday said it would release its budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 on March 4, roughly a month later than scheduled, a delay it attributed to the December budget deal signed between Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The “Unsustainable” Path of Federal Fiscal Policy
In the fourth part of our series on what the Congressional Budget Office labels the “unsustainable” path of federal fiscal policy, we explore how decisions about federal fiscal policy impact both short-run and long-run economic activity.

Monday, January 27, 2014

General Economics

Politico | The war on inequality … may take awhile
Coming up next: President Barack Obama solves inequality? Don’t hold your breath. He’s building his new agenda around an issue that has been in the making for decades: economic inequality. It’s expected to be the major theme of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, and when Capitol Hill doesn’t act on his ideas, he says he’ll use a “pen and phone” strategy to do what he can without Congress.
FOX News | NABE survey: Businesses expect stronger performance this year vs 2013, but hiring still anemic
Businesses expect their companies to perform better this year but that optimism still isn't translating into a push to hire more workers, according to a new survey from the National Association for Business Economics.
CNN Money | Buckle up! 2014 will be a bumpy ride
Get ready for a volatile year. Last week's stock market gyrations and currency swings are a sign of things to come as central banks wean investors off cheap money.
FOX Business | Government Regulations Drowning New England Fisheries?
One well-seasoned commercial fisherman says Federal regulations are drowning New England fisheries.
Market Watch | How much gas in economy’s tank? Let’s see
If the U.S. economic engine is ready to rev faster in 2014, this is the week we should learn how much fuel is in the gas tank.
CNBC | Making the rich poorer isn't the American Dream: Summers
Making an impassioned social commentary that seemed to cut against fellow Democrats, Larry Summers said that making people poorer, "even the very rich," in the name of balancing the scales of income inequality in America is a destructive course of action.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | The new faces of food stamps
In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps - a switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients.
WSJ | The Other Kind of Inequality
The problem with the Democrats' new war on inequality ("the defining challenge of our time," says President Obama ) is that there are two kinds of growing inequality—and the Democrats are attacking the wrong one.
Real Clear Markets | To Increase College Grads, Obama Should Eliminate Pell Grants
Pell Grants are federal funds provided to college students from low-income families. Since its start in 1973 the program has grown both in the number of students receiving grants and the amount of each grant. Today over nine million students receive Pell Grants worth up to almost $6,000 a year. Yet if the federal government really wants to boost American human capital and improve college outcomes one of the best things it could do is eliminate the Pell Grant program completely.
Washington Times | Restoring the American dream
We can expect President Obama’s big speech Tuesday night to be full of his usual class-warfare bloviation about the “lack of upward mobility” being the “defining problem of our time.” He wants more and bigger government, so he defines problems in a way that demands another federal solution.

Heritage Foundation | U.S. Could Learn From Hong Kong About Economic Freedom
My previous column focused on why the United States is no longer among the top 10 nations listed in the annual “Index of Economic Freedom.” It’s important to put this in a larger context and explain why it matters.
Library of Economics | Poverty and Income Inequality are Separate Issues
What matters is not whether inequality increases but whether people of all income levels are doing better.
Heritage Foundation | You Can’t Have Income Equality Without Economic Freedom
For all of the ideas President Barack Obama will likely mention in the course of this election year on ways to reduce income inequality, don’t expect for him to mention the one that has actually been proven empirically to work: jobs.