Friday, January 10, 2014

General Economics

Politico | Massive trade bill hits Hill
Three senior lawmakers on Thursday unveiled long-awaited legislation to help President Barack Obama strike major trade deals in Asia and Europe, setting the stage for a potential election-year battle between the president and many of his fellow Democrats in Congress.
Market Watch | U.S. November wholesale inventories rise 0.5%
U.S. wholesale inventories rose 0.5% in November to $516.4 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Friday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | President Obama's Legacy Of Economic Failure
Upon returning from the winter holidays, Congress launched the new year with a debate over raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits. President Obama is an enthusiastic supporter of these efforts, and no doubt, his upcoming State of the Union address will focus on the need for continued government interventions to shore up the lagging economy as well as addressing concerns over persistent income inequality.
Washington Times | Obama ‘promise zones’ won’t help the poor, creating jobs will
Nearing the start of the sixth year of his presidency, with his job-approval polls in a nose dive, Barack Obama has suddenly decided to do something about growing poverty.

WSJ | Five Takeaways From the GOP’s Poverty Pivot
A number of Republicans marked the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War On Poverty” speech with proposals of their own, feeding into a national conversation of the government’s role in assisting the poor. Here are five takeaways.
Heritage Foundation | The Problem With Obama's Promise Zones
Obama formally announced the first five promise zones today, saying, “A child’s destiny should be determined not by her ZIP code but by the strength of her work ethic and the scope of her dreams.”  The first promise zones (there will be fifteen more zones chosen in the next three years) are spread across the country, ranging from Los Angeles to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to Philadelphia.

Health Care

National Journal | Can States Take Over Health Care?
Federal health care spending has been getting all the attention, but it's the states that are best equipped to reform the system and contain costs, says a new report organized by the University of Virginia's Miller Center.


Bloomberg | George Concerned Fed Guidance Commits to Low Rates for Too Long
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Esther George, who dissented against unprecedented stimulus in seven policy meetings last year, voiced concern the Fed may keep the main interest rate too low for too long.
Bloomberg | Obama to Nominate Fischer, Brainard, Powell to Fed’s Board
President Barack Obama will nominate Stanley Fischer, Lael Brainard and Jerome Powell for positions on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
The Fiscal Times | Why ‘Too Big to Fail’ Is a Bigger Problem Than Ever - See more at:
In the past few months, JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay, depending on how you do the math, somewhere between $22 billion and $25 billion in fines and penalties for various illegal activities, from hiding its suspicions about Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff to misleading investors about the notorious London Whale. - See more at:
Fortune | Don't be cowed by the Fed's smaller profits
When your cow gets bigger but produces less milk, it's usually time to worry that something has gone wrong with the beast. That's the first thing that came to my mind when I heard that the Federal Reserve, a cash cow for U.S. taxpayers ever since the worldwide financial bailout began five years ago, sent less money to the Treasury last year than it did in 2012. This despite the fact that the Fed had increased its securities holdings by about $1.1 trillion.

WSJ | Hilsenrath Analysis: Job Report Alone Unlikely to Alter Fed’s Course
Friday’s disappointing and slightly perplexing jobs report is likely to curb the Federal Reserve‘s recent enthusiasm about the U.S. economic recovery, but it seems unlikely to convince officials to alter the course Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke laid out for the central bank in December. That envisioned gradual reductions of its monthly bond-buying program this year.


Politico | Tax shock ahead for wealthy
The wealthy may be in for a bit of a jolt this tax season. That’s because Democrats have pushed through several new taxes on the well-to-do — many coming online this year — making the top tax bite steeper than advertised. By how much is a matter of opinion, but some experts say the true top rate is about 45 percent — 5 percentage points higher than the usual sticker price or higher still depending on what’s included in the mix.
FOX Business | 55 Tax Breaks Expired Last Year, What Boomers Need to Know
There is a long list of tax write offs Uncle Sam allows when it comes time to filing your tax returns, but it can be hard to keep up with them all. Just last week, 55 tax breaks affecting everything from taxes on charitable deductions to helping grandkids with college were allowed to expire.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Stop tax breaks for special interests, lower everyone’s bill
It’s an annual ritual. Congress lets a package of tax breaks expire at the end of the year in their mad dash to leave Washington for the holidays. Now back in town, they must decide whether to renew the credits and deductions retroactively. In many, perhaps most, of the 55 tax breaks this year, they shouldn’t.
Fortune | IRS top cop says the agency is too hard on offshore tax dodgers
Cuddly Beanie Babies have become a bizarre icon of tax horror ever since their billionaire American creator, Ty Warner, was socked last September with jaw-dropping fines for not disclosing his secret Swiss bank accounts.
NBER | Disentangling Financial Constraints, Precautionary Savings, and Myopia: Household Behavior Surrounding Federal Tax Returns
We explore household consumption surrounding federal tax returns filings and refunds receipt to test various theories of consumption.


Politico | Outlook dims for jobless benefits
Urgent bipartisan negotiations in the Senate to extend emergency unemployment benefits blew up on Thursday, placing the future of the jobless aid in doubt.
CNN Money | Jobless workers plead with Congress for help
Charece Peterson is among dozens of jobless workers who knocked on the doors of members of Congress this week, pushing to reinstate unemployment insurance.
Bloomberg | Payrolls Rise Less Than Forecast; Unemployment at 6.7%
Payrolls increased in December at the slowest pace in almost three years, indicating a pause in the recent strength of the U.S. labor market that may partly reflect the effects of bad weather.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | Expand Jobs Not Jobless Benefits
For the past few weeks, the country has been having a lively discussion about jobs and unemployment benefits. It’s an important discussion to have. The nation is enduring the weakest recovery since the Great Depression, 11 million people remain unemployed, and millions more have dropped out of the labor force.

WSJ | 5 Takeaways from December Employment Report
Despite high hopes for a barn-burning employment gain, December payrolls rose just 74,000, well below the 200,000 expected by forecasters. The details also look weak, but the good news is that some of the drag looks temporary and January job growth should bounce back.


Bloomberg | House to Vote on Three-Day Spending to Avert Shutdown
The U.S. House will take up a short-term spending bill next week to fund federal government operations past Jan. 15, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.
Market Watch | Fed handed $78 billion to Treasury in 2013
The Federal Reserve transferred $77.7 billion in earnings to the U.S. Treasury during 2013, the central bank announced Friday.

Heritage Foundation | No More Spending Cuts to Make? Heritage Expert Says There Are Plenty
Congress is close to releasing a massive spending bill to fund the federal government, and Heritage budget expert Romina Boccia says there is plenty of waste to cut. Speaking on Fox Business Network’s Cavuto, Boccia listed the top 10 examples of government waste for 2013.