Friday, January 24, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | 7 setbacks for the middle class
Five years into his presidency, Barack Obama is still falling short of his number one goal: to fix the economy for the middle class.
CNN Money | Jack Lew: U.S. could grow by 3% this year
The U.S. economy is off to such a good start in 2014 that annual growth could hit 3% for the first time since 2005, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | U.S. goal: Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
U.S. economic strategy resembles the famed rope-a-dope. America absorbed ferocious punishment in the current economic downturn. Despite weaknesses, it remains capable of dominance. U.S. strategic superiority may allow it to maintain its geopolitical and economic advantage.
Bloomberg | Contagion Spreads in Emerging Markets as Crises Grow
The worst selloff in emerging-market currencies in five years is beginning to reveal the extent of the fallout from the Federal Reserve’s tapering of monetary stimulus, compounded by political and financial instability.
FOX News | Despite rise in inequality, climbing the economic ladder hasn't gotten harder since the 1970s
Young Americans from low-income families are as likely to move into the ranks of the affluent today as those born in the 1970s, according to a report by several top academic experts on inequality.
FOX Business | Will Inventory Kill Housing's Recovery?
The housing market has been on a steady recovery, but there is one major obstacle that could potentially slow down its momentum: tight inventory.
Real Clear Markets | Orwell Lives, As Recession Is Redefined As Recovery
It is becoming more obvious by the month, even by the day, that standards for economic comparison are being as devalued as any debased currency. You see it everywhere and in nearly every form of account. Where growth used to be common, it is now seen as nothing more than a wellspring of hope, drawn to in times of less sober analysis as nothing more than a warm memory of better days gone by.
Washington Times | The income-inequality excuse doesn’t cut it
Throughout his economically troubled presidency, Barack Obama has had as a governing strategy political distraction: blaming his failures on others in an attempt to convince enough Americans that he’s not at all responsible for an underperforming, jobless economy.
AEI | Retirees aren't headed for the poor house
There is a widespread perception that most Americans are inadequately prepared for retirement. The story pushed by pundits and policy makers is that the shift over the past 30 years from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution savings plans such as 401(k)s has dramatically reduced retirement income to supplement the benefits provided by Social Security.

WSJ | Another Look at China’s GDP Numbers
Did Thursday’s surprise fall in one of China’s purchasing manager indexes give you pause about the pace of Chinese economic growth? Some indices had already said that China’s economy was doing worse than advertised.
WSJ | Existing Home Sales Approach a New Normal
Higher mortgage rates, weather and few homes on the market hurt sales of existing homes at the end of 2013. Sales increased 1.0% in December, to an annual rate of 4.87 million, below economists’ expectations, and the November sales pace was revised down to 4.82 million.
CATO | Should Free Traders Support Free Trade Agreements?
With the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations allegedly near completion, the transatlantic talks kicking into higher gear, and debate in Congress over U.S. trade policy objectives about to intensify, 2014 is shaping up to be the most consequential year for the trade agenda in a long time. Whether real free traders should rejoice over these developments depends on the emerging details, as well as the ability to avoid making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Health Care

Politico | Obama health care adviser Chris Jennings resigns
A senior health care adviser to President Barack Obama is departing the White House for personal reasons, an administration official said Thursday. Chris Jennings, a respected policy expert who also worked in the Clinton administration, has resigned “due to a recent health care scare and other serious family considerations,” the official said.
National Journal | It’s Hard to See Your Doctor. Is That Obamacare's Fault?
ZocDoc, a free online appointment-booking platform, allows patients to schedule last-minute doctor appointments by filling canceled or unbooked spots. The company launched in 2007, but it's betting its services will be in new demand as the Affordable Care Act takes effect.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Caller | Obamacare creates a new class of free riders
Welcome to Obamacare, land of skyrocketing premiums, cancelled insurance policies, and a website that is exhibit A of government incompetence. If Republicans are serious about stopping this destructive law, they must criticize more than its rollout troubles, which are fixable. They must expose the law’s fundamental problems, which its supporters are determined to hide.
National Journal | Medicaid-Eligible Americans Don't Know the Affordable Care Act Is Affordable
The entitlement program has an influx of new participants, but for Obamacare to reach its goals, they’ll have to understand what they’re signing up for.
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.


Bloomberg | Central Banks Phase Out Dollar Liquidity Tenders as Crisis Eases
The European Central Bank and global peers will wind down emergency dollar liquidity facilities that have helped lenders weather financial turbulence since 2007.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Why Higher Inflation Is A Very, Very Bad Idea
Many economists believe that higher inflation and/or a weaker U.S. dollar would boost the economy.  It would not.  Those economists’ belief amounts to a superstition.  Today, we are going to take a deep dive into the numbers to show just why—and how—an unstable, declining dollar hurts, rather than helps, economic growth and jobs.
Washington Times | Loose monetary policy could spawn next financial bubble
The chorus of optimistic forecasts is growing. The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book reported moderate growth from November to the end of 2013, and that “the economic outlook is positive in most districts.” The World Bank predicted the developed world is on the brink of “self-sustained recovery” for the first time in five years, and expects the U.S economy to grow as much as 3.2 percent this year.
Fortune | Post-Volcker, trading at the big banks is up
At Goldman, JPMorgan, and Bank of America, there are signs that the risky business Washington was trying to root out continues to grow.
Market Watch | What’s so bad about falling prices? Nothing
As Ben Bernanke hands over the Federal Reserve chairmanship to Janet Yellen at the end of January, leadership of the central bank will be passed from one strident deflation foe to another.


Library of Economics | Steve Moore's Alternative Maximum Tax
It turns out that Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal, and now the newly appointed chief economist at Heritage Foundation, came up with the idea in the 1990s. Here's how it would work:


CNN Money | Liberals: Obama alone could raise minimum wage for many
President Obama has said he will use whatever executive authority he has to help the middle class and the economy. Liberals say he should do so to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers.

Heritage Foundation | Should We Raise the Minimum Wage?
In last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for an increase in the minimum wage. Since then, Democrats in Congress have argued that the President didn’t go far enough, proposing even more of an increase.
Negihborhood Effects | The minimum wage and slower job growth
In my December post on Willie Lyons I linked to a new article on the minimum wage by Jonathan Meer and Jeremy West, both of Texas A&M.


Politico | Senate Budget chair: No negotiations on debt limit
Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will release a letter later Friday saying Democrats will not heed any GOP demands in exchange for hiking the debt limit next month in the latest round of the fiscal fights that have plagued the Capitol.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Hungry alligators await as the U.S. Treasury is running out of gimmicks
Republicans are retreating from Capitol Hill in mortal fear of being called nasty names, such as “obstructionist” and “partisan” and “naysayer,” and the White House, which understands take-no-prisoner politics, is pressing the advantage. We’re headed for more spending, and lots of it.

CATO | Appropriate Appropriations? Transparency and Spending Control
Luke Rosiak at the Washington Examiner is not just a journalist who rolls his sleeves up to root out corruption. He’s also a capable computer programmer. Rosiak has produced a new feature on the Examiner web site called “Appropriate Appropriations?” that is worth checking out.