Thursday, July 31, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | BofA hit with $1.3 billion mortgage penalty
BofA hit with $1.3 billion mortgage penalty
Politico | Iowa Senate: Ethanol fuels a clash in corn country
The Iowan is touting federal support for ethanol while competing in one of 2014’s most critical Senate contests — and he’s banking on his ability to champion his state’s cause in D.C., where the corn industry’s political power has waned. While critics ranging from environmentalists to anti-subsidy fiscal conservatives have turned against ethanol, Braley is busy posing at gas stations that sell the corn-based biofuel, campaigning with farmers and pressuring EPA to protect the federal mandate that guarantees corn’s role in the U.S. fuel supply.
Bloomberg | Consumer Confidence Declines in U.S. to Lowest Since June
Confidence among U.S. consumers retreated last week to an almost two-month low as limited wage growth chipped away at perceptions about personal finances.
CNBC | US Midwest business index drops to 13-month low in July
The pace of business activity in the U.S. Midwest in July sank to its slowest level since June 2013, signaling a sharp deceleration in that region's economy, a report showed on Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | 2 new reverse mortgage rules for couples
Reverse mortgages (home loans for people 62 and older that let them convert home equity into cash) can be a useful way for homeowners to receive extra income in retirement; the loan must be repaid when the borrower dies, moves or sells the home.
Forbes | Just Your Run-Of-The-Mill Blockbuster Returns
Let’s play a word-association game. Stocks are up? Good! Stocks are down? Volatile! What’s missing is that a market that’s up a lot comes with volatility–the happy kind.
WSJ | The 2.1% Expansion
Growth for the second quarter surprised on the upside at 4%, rebounding from the minus-2.1% plunge in the first quarter. The widespread hope is that this will finally mark the long-promised leap to a faster growth plateau five years after the recession ended in June 2009. We share that hope even if we've learned to be skeptical about the expectation.
Real Clear Markets | The Hidden Gloom Underlying California's 'Boom'
Good news, in 2013, California's economy grew faster than the nation's - 2 percent vs. 1.8 percent. Many have used this as vindication that California's progressive policies, ranging from the 2012 Proposition 30 tax increases to implementation of AB 32's cap-and-trade scheme, are not hindering growth (some even suggest such policies are aiding the growth).
Mercatus | Social Security is in Crisis
The 2014 Social Security Trustees report showed a continuation of the current trend toward insolvency of both of its trust funds. As in the previous two years, the Trustees estimate that Social Security's combined retirement and disability trust funds will become exhausted in 2033, less than 20 years from now.
CATO | The Conservative Case for Immigration Reform
The debate over immigration reform, intensified by the surge of unaccompanied child migrants at the U.S.–Mexico border, has many conservatives worried. Republican strategist Lanhee Chen explained that conservative opposition to immigration reform in the United States “is a very visceral reaction to what America should be about.” According to conservative opponents of immigration reform, immigrants will change America.