Monday, January 13, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Bonds Captivate $16 Trillion of Pensions
Bond buyers stung by the first losses in more than a decade can look to pension funds from companies such as Ford Motor Co. (F) for a measure of redemption.
WSJ | Why Business Investment Could Break Out
Many say they want to see the economy growing faster—generating sustained growth in demand for their goods and services—before they would be willing to splurge on new equipment, software and buildings. But lackluster business spending is one thing holding back growth.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married
If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he should focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family. A man mostly raised by a single mother and his grandparents who defied the odds to become president of the United States is just the person to take up the cause.
Real Clear Markets | The War On Poverty's Wins and Losses
We are awash in retrospectives of the War on Poverty, launched 50 years ago this month by Lyndon Johnson. A furious debate has developed between those (mostly liberals) who consider the war an important, if incomplete, triumph and those (mostly conservatives) who judge it a wasteful defeat. In reality, we both won and lost the War on Poverty. This is an ambiguous truth that our acrimonious political culture has trouble accepting.
WSJ | Leading From the Front on Free Trade
America's commitment to free trade will be tested in 2014. After years of indifference to trade policy, the Obama administration now has an agenda. Congress must decide whether the U.S. will lead in opening markets and creating fair rules for free enterprise in a new international economy. Where will Republicans stand?
AEI | Owning the income inequality issue
Democrats are obsessed with income inequality. They are determined to exploit the issue in this midterm-election year. It is a strategy that will no doubt be aided and abetted by the media. Pope Francis was named Time magazine’s “Person for the Year” for his critique of what he called “trickle down” capitalism.

WSJ | 5 Things to Watch on the Economic Calendar
After Friday’s incredibly disappointing employment report that showed only 74,000 jobs added in December, economy-watchers, investors and more than a few Federal Reserve officials will want to know: was the jobs report a sign of continued economic wobbliness or an outlier? The upcoming week’s spate of reports will include retail sales, housing and industrial production. The Fed’s Beige Book will also impart some insight. Here are five data points that will offer clues:
CATO | Uncertainty and Economic Fluctuations
The crucial unanswered question is why uncertainty increased in 2008.
WSJ | Number of the Week: How 2013 Stacked Up, in Charts
2013: A year of records, a bit of return to normalcy, but some continued struggles.
Library of Economics | Do barriers create "bubbles?"
The basic set-up of his narrative remained unchanged from last year. Imagine a world, he said, in which resources are increasingly concentrated in the hands of those with high propensities to save and low propensities to invest: reserve accumulating foreign governments, for example, and the very rich.
Café Hayek | Two Notes on Income Inequality
Here’s part of John Goodman’s sensible defense of income inequality; specifically here, Goodman challenges those people who argue that income inequality itself is a concern that potentially should be (attempted to be) reduced through government policies even if the inequality means that the absolute level of incomes of the lowest-income people are higher than they would be with less income inequality

Health Care

National Journal | Obamacare’s Catch-22
Insurance companies had to spend a lot of money adapting to Obamacare's botched rollout. And unless the White House intervenes, the law could penalize them for doing it.
FOX Business | Maryland’s Single Payer Push May Save Medicare Billions
In an effort to curb medical spending, Maryland hospitals are being told to think quality over quantity. And if successful, the proposal could spread across the country.
CNN Money | The truth behind Obamacare 6 million figure
The Obama administration is trumpeting that 6 million people have health coverage thanks to Obamacare.
WSJ | Accenture to Take Over Fixing Website
Fixing the site will fall to Accenture LLP, a widely known consulting giant tapped to replace an embattled contractor that was largely responsible for creating the health portal, launched in October.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Caller | Obamacare’s ripple effect for 2016 and beyond
Obamacare’s repercussions may extend well beyond this administration and even the Democratic Party. While the focus thus far has been on its current political consequences to the Obama White House, its ramifications could run longer and deeper than many now understand. The administration’s lapse in executive competence may have a real impact on candidates of both parties in 2016, and how Congress interacts with the next administration.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Bullard: Taper to continue despite job data
St. Louis Fed Bank President James Bullard said Friday the central bank is likely to continue to reduce its bond purchases and not be swayed by the weak December job report.
WSJ | Draghi Says ECB Will Act If Needed
The European Central Bank surprised markets with an emphatic assurance that it would respond aggressively if inflation weakens to dangerously low levels, as officials sought to spur the fragile euro-zone recovery.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Ask Encore: Rules on Retirement Withdrawals
I've got a hypothetical tax question. Say someone has a tax-deferred account (non-Roth) with a contribution value of $200,000 and a current value of $600,000. What if the entire $600,000 was placed in a federal- and state-tax-free municipal bond for one year and then withdrawn? Would there be taxes on the $400,000 gain even though it is withdrawn from a tax-free investment?

Heritage Foundation | Taming the Regulatory Tax Monster
That’s the cost of all regulations (good, bad and indifferent) imposed on Americans by the 60 or so government agencies that contribute to the 175,000-page (and growing) Code of Federal Regulations.


Politico | 'It's just been a struggle forever'
Without their unemployment checks, many will abandon what had been a futile search and will no longer look for a job — an exodus that could dwarf the 347,000 Americans who stopped seeking work in December. Beneficiaries have been required to look for work to receive unemployment checks.
CNN Money | The real low-wage issue: Not enough hours
Low wages has become the raging issue of the day, sparking protests and discussions nationwide.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Bad Jobs Report Is Just Obama's 'New Normal'
There was considerable weeping and gnashing of teeth over the December "Employment Situation" report released by the BLS on Friday. Analysts were expecting 200,000 new payroll jobs, but they got only 74,000. Some called the "bad" unemployment report a "statistical anomaly."
Washington Times | Half an amnesty is still all bad
Jobs are scarce, and Congress is cooking up a scheme to make them scarcer. The Labor Department reported Friday that the economy created only 74,000 jobs in December, the lowest comparable number in three years, and half of those were part-time jobs. It’s bad out there, and getting worse. President Obama’s “recovery” is recovery with no jobs.
Fortune | Minimum wage campaigns' biggest losers? Tipped workers
A raise in the minimum base pay of tipped workers had been on the table when Governor Andrew Cuomo initially introduced his budget. But tipped workers were left out of the ultimate deal -- the victims of political wrangling, according to Michael Kink, executive director of The Strong Economic for All Coalition.
Mercatus | Updated: Comparison of BLS Alternative National Unemployment Rates
This week’s chart is an updated comparison of the different measurements of the unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It includes new data on the official and alternative unemployment measurements for 2012 and 2013.

WSJ | Real Jobs Gap Not Closing Any Time Soon
U.S. payrolls rebounded slowly in what was known as the jobless recovery following the 2001 recession. As late as 2003 the economy was adding an average of only 5,000 jobs a month. The total number of jobs in the U.S. hit a peak of about 138 million in January 2008, one month after the start of the most recent recession.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | Closing in on a budget deal
With the last major issues resolved, House-Senate negotiators worked toward filing a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill by Monday night in hopes of quick action by Congress this week.
CNN Money | High yields will be a stretch for new U.S. debt
Do you dream of a safe bond that could earn interest higher than today's microscopic rates? The U.S. has a deal for you -- though it's probably not a good one.