Friday, January 17, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Builders Begin Work on More U.S. Homes Than Forecast
The pace of U.S. home construction dropped less than forecast in December, capping the best year for the industry since 2007.
CNN Money | 850,000 may have $90 less in food stamps
A deal on food stamps in Congress could trim as much as $90 a month from 850,000 of the nation's poorest who seek help to buy groceries.
Bloomberg | Industrial Production in U.S. Rises for a Fifth Month
Industrial production in the U.S. rose for a fifth month in December, capping the strongest quarter since 2010 and indicating manufacturing (IPMGCHNG) is helping propel the economy.
Bloomberg | Extreme Weather Wreaking Havoc on Food as Farmers Suffer
Too much rain in northern China damaged crops in May, three years after too little rain turned the world’s second-biggest corn producer into a net importer of the grain.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Income Redistribution's Logical Conclusion Is Communism
Income inequality is dominating the economic news cycle at the moment with multiple stories about rising income inequality, the need to raise the minimum wage, and anecdotal stories designed to make the more fortunate feel sorry for the less so. There are, however, two big problems with this narrative.
Real Clear Politics | Minimum-Wage Mirage?
This minimum wage business is tricky. On its face, raising the minimum seems an easy way to fight poverty. Just pay low-wage workers more. After all, some scholarly research finds that, within reasonable limits, there's no job penalty. A higher minimum doesn't reduce employment much, if at all. By and large, that's the position of the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and liberal groups. Unfortunately, it may not be that simple.
National Journal | There's No Simple Solution for Economic Mobility
The more researchers learn about what it takes to build an effective ladder of opportunity, the more the answer looks like, well, a ladder. In other words, research tells us that no single crossroads determines whether young people born in modest circumstances can advance to a better life than their parents. To achieve upward mobility, youths must cross a succession of hurdles, with each test they pass placing them on stronger footing to master the next. The process is sequential and cumulative—like climbing a ladder.
Trade Benefits America | International Trade Supports Growth & Jobs in Every State
Over 160 companies and associations agree: Congress needs to pass modernized Trade promotion Authority to complete new trade agreements, supporting U.S. jobs and growth.

Health Care

Bloomberg | UnitedHealth Sees U.S. Medicare Cuts Weighing on Profit
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Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Obamacare Exchange Enrollment: What Recent Numbers Don't Tell You
Recent data released by the Obama Administration highlights enrollment in health insurance exchanges or "the Marketplace" which has had many ups and downs over the last months -- beginning with the bungled website as well as optimistic reports from states which have had made great progress in enrolling Americans in the Marketplace as well as expanded Medicaid Programs.
CBO | Approaches to Reducing Federal Spending on Military Health Care
In 2012, the Department of Defense (DoD) spent $52 billion on health care for service members, retirees, and their families. The department offers health care to nearly 10 million people through its TRICARE program, an integrated system of military health care providers and regional networks of civilian providers.

Heritage Foundation | Solve Medicare's Payment Problem, But Protect the Doctor-Patient Relationship
This year Medicare physicians face a 24 percent pay cut. The reason:  Medicare payment is fixed by statute, including the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) update formula. And, as in the past, that Medicare formula requires another deep cut.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Drastic Fed Moves Reveal Policy Gone Awry
As part of its newly conceived Operation Twist update, in September 2011 the Federal Reserve decided that it would reinvest proceeds from maturing MBS holdings in its SOMA portfolio in newly created MBS. In the vernacular of the MBS market, the Open Market Desk at the New York Branch (FRBNY) would concentrate its purchases in the TBA market.

WSJ | Economists Give Bernanke a B for Final Grade, Expect QE3 to End This Year
Most of the economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal believe the Federal Reserve will wind down its monthly bond-buying program this year as the economy gradually picks up steam


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | Republicans’ love-hate relationship with a tax credit
The embrace is a turnabout of sorts: Republicans have had a love-mostly-hate relationship with the EITC, one that reached a nadir during Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. When Romney complained 47 percent of Americans weren’t paying federal income taxes, he was implicitly criticizing the credit, which takes many low-income workers off the federal income tax rolls.
NY Times | Window Is Opening for Change in Tax Code
On the face of it, the very idea sounds absurd. To call the current Congress dysfunctional would be an understatement. Simply reaching a budget compromise this week was viewed as a surprising accomplishment.


National Journal | The Government's $11 Billion Jobs Program May Not Work
The federal government has spent billions since the start of the Great Recession on a single job-training program, but a new report shows there’s not enough data to know if it helps out-of-luck workers.
Bloomberg | Job Openings in the U.S. Rise to Highest in More Than Five Years
Job openings in the U.S. climbed in November to the highest level in more than five years, a sign the labor market was picking up before the pause in the final month of 2013.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Can't Find Skilled Workers? Start an Apprentice Program
One key element to a competitive workforce almost entirely overlooked in the U.S. is apprenticeships. These days, American businesses typically want someone else—trade schools, community colleges, universities or even the federal government—to train their future employees.


Politico | Senate approves $1.1 trillion spending bill
A landmark $1.1 trillion spending bill cleared Congress Thursday evening after conservative resistance collapsed in the Senate and tea party favorite Ted Cruz dropped his insistence on a vote on funding for President Barack Obama’s health care plan.
Politico | Harry Reid, Jack Lew differ on debt limit timing
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Thursday that Congress should raise the debt limit by the end of February and not wait until early March to avoid any complications arising from the flow of revenue into the government’s coffers due to tax-filing season.