Thursday, January 23, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | Natural gas at record highs during cold snap
Prices for natural gas and propane hit record highs this week as temperatures plummet in many parts of the country.
FOX Business | U.S. Oil Jumps to Highest Level this Year on New Pipeline
Oil rose more than a dollar on Wednesday to settle at its highest price this year on the startup of a new major pipeline, expected to help eliminate a bottleneck that has depressed the U.S. futures for three years, and on expectations that frigid weather in the Northeast would prompt strong demand for heating fuel.
CNN Money | Michigan governor offers $350 million for Detroit pensions
Michigan's governor proposed Wednesday that the state provide up to $350 million to help Detroit exit bankruptcy and protect city pensions.
Bloomberg | Sales Climb as U.S. Housing Market Adjusts to Rates: Economy
Sales of previously owned homes climbed in December for the first time in five months, capping the best year since 2006 and indicating the real-estate market is starting to adjust to higher borrowing costs.
Market Watch | Leading economic index edges up 0.1% in December
The leading economic index for the U.S. rose 0.1% in December to 99.4, marking the sixth gain in a row, the Conference Board said Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Obama Recovery Fails to Resonate as Americans Left Behind
Just as the world’s largest economy is finally getting better, the public’s opinion of President Barack Obama’s handling of it is getting worse.
Forbes | The Divided And Troubled State Of California
It’s a New Legislative Year.  That means it’s time for California Governor Jerry Brown to give his “State of the State” address.  Undoubtedly, Brown along with his California Democrats and their supportive media will claim that California is in good shape.  The truth, however, is that California is facing real problems and is deeply divided economically and politically.
Washington Times | Obama’s sequestration alarmism was dead wrong
President Obama’s bogus promises, predictions and claims are legendary, but perhaps you’ve forgotten his “sky is falling” forecast about the $85 billion budget sequestration.
Fiscal Times | The 5-Decade Plan for a Successful Retirement
A Morningstar report released last month got a lot of attention: It claimed that retirement savers relying on common financial planning assumptions and rules of thumb could be building a nest egg as much as 20 percent larger than what they actually need.
WSJ | New Data Muddle Debate on Economic Mobility
The odds of a child moving up the economic ladder have remained about the same for the past three decades, according to a comprehensive new study that contradicts the narrative in Washington that economic mobility has declined in recent years.

Washington Post | 10 startling facts about global wealth inequality
On Monday, Oxfam published a startling report showing that the richest 85 people in the world are worth more than the poorest 3.5 billion.
WSJ | When Thinking about Retirement, Beware the Averages
When contemplating all those stories, charts and advice columns about how financially prepared Americans are for retirement: Beware the averages.
Heritage Foundation | Does Inequality Hurt Innovation or Entrepreneurship?
When you’re fixated on a particular problem, it’s easy to see the problem everywhere. Much of the political left is currently obsessed with income inequality, to the exclusion of job creation, economic mobility, or economic freedom. That means they see the consequences of income inequality in some unlikely places.
Café Hayek | Price Controls as A Tool to Fight Poverty
As I wrote somewhere earlier (I cannot now find the link), most economists, I’m sure, would correctly regard a policy of government mandated price-ceilings on the goods and services bought disproportionately by the poor to be a disastrous means of raising the real incomes of the poor.

Health Care

Politico | Big jump seen in Medicaid signups
More than 6.3 million people have been determined eligible for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage since the October start of open enrollment, the Obama administration announced Wednesday — but it’s still impossible to say how many are newly insured because of Obamacare.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | ObamaCare's Missing Uninsured
'I'm not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance for the first time," President Obama declared in November. Echoing his boss, White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted that millions of Americans are now "able to avail themselves of quality, affordable health insurance . . . many of them for the first time."
CATO | ObamaCare’s Ugly ‘Progress’
No one expects President Obama to say much about ObamaCare in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday — because there isn’t much good to say about his signature achievement.

Heritage Foundation | Parents Pay More After Disabled Twins Lose Health Plans to Obamacare
A Michigan family of four, all with disabilities, unexpectedly lost some of their health coverage when Obamacare came online last fall, leaving them with $8,000 more in medical bills, The Bay City Times reports.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | With a Dollar-Price Rule, No Fed 'Taper' Would Be Necessary
With the Federal Reserve's recent announcement that it's set to begin reducing its monthly purchases of interest-bearing bonds, the conversation has partially shifted to the economic implications of the central bank's pivot. If the ‘taper' is engineered properly, the near and long-term results have the potential to be very positive.
CNN Money | Japan's Abe: I am beating deflation
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his country is winning the battle against deflation, the persistent low prices that have plagued Japan's economy for years.

CATO | Bernanke’s Monetary Mess
Most who have graded Prof. Ben Bernanke’s twelve years at the Federal Reserve have issued marks which range from A to a gentleman’s C. I think those marks are much too generous. Indeed, I think a failing mark would be more appropriate.
Library of Economics | Don't expect too much from inflation
I'm associated with the "pro-inflation" crowd because of my advocacy of monetary stimulus over the past 5 years.  This is actually sort of ironic because I'm an inflation hawk who was trained at the University of Chicago in the late 1970s and haven't significantly changed my views on monetary policy over the past 35 years.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | A carbon tax beats a vacuum ban
Starting in September, the European Union will ban vacuum cleaners using more than 1,600 watts of power, with the limit slated to be lowered to 900 watts by 2017. This ban won't just affect a handful of the worst offenders. According to the European Commission, the average vacuum cleaner sold today uses 1,800 watts.


Bloomberg | Jobless Claims in U.S. Hover Near Lowest in Over a Month
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits held near a six-week low, showing firings remain muted following the holidays.
WSJ | Why Hiring Lags Behind Even as U.S. Factories Hum
Across the country, companies like Prime-Line have been slow to add capacity to meet growing demand as the U.S. economy has picked up. And even when they are investing, they often take pains to add as few jobs as possible.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | Jack Lew to John Boehner: Raise debt ceiling in February
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday, saying the “best course of action would be for Congress to “raise the nation’s debt limit “before February 7 to ensure orderly financing of the government.” At the latest, Lew writes, Congress must lift the cap by the end of February.

CBO | CBO To Release Budget and Economic Outlook on February 4
The report will include updated economic and budget projections spanning the period from 2014 to 2024.