Friday, February 7, 2014

General Economics

FOX Business | Refinery Maintenance Weighs on U.S. Crude Demand
Brent crude oil ended nearly a dollar higher on Thursday, supported by a stronger euro, French port closures and tighter supplies from the North Sea.
Bloomberg | German Industrial Output Unexpectedly Fell in December: Economy
German industrial output unexpectedly fell in December, signaling that Europe’s largest economy remains vulnerable to weakness in the rest of the region.
Bloomberg | U.S. Home Sellers Return for Spring as Buyers Get Relief
Suzanne Baker and her siblings bought a foreclosed home in Atlanta two years ago, added a fourth bathroom, then waited for values to rebound before considering a sale. Now, she says, they’re ready to cash in.
WSJ | Energy a Bright Spot for Trade
U.S. exports fell overall in December amid rising volatility in the global economy while petroleum products' role in the nation's trade mix continued to grow, with overseas energy sales for the month posting a record high.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Ominous Signs for the Global Recovery
As the feel-good talk emanating from the World Economic Forum gathering at Davos last month fades and equity investors contemplate the possibility of a major market correction, a combination of factors suggests that something ominous may be afoot. Taken together, these three factors—simultaneous liquidity withdrawal by the Federal Reserve and China, a U.S. stock market on a knife's edge, and emerging markets in disarray—indicate that the global economy could be in danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Forbes | Winning The War Against Poverty Requires More Than Money
Trying to create environments that will lead to increased wealth and reduce poverty is one of the outcomes sought by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and think tanks. In, “More Than Money: Five Forms of Capital to Create Wealth and Eliminate Poverty” (Stanford Business Books, 2014), Paul C. Godfrey tells his readers the recommendations from noted economists, management experts and other social scientists for eliminating poverty.
NBER | Can You Leave High School Behind?
In recent years, many states, including California, Texas, and Oregon, have changed admissions policies to increase access to public universities for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. A key concern, however, is how these students will perform.
Heritage Foundation | Economy Better, but Still Growing Too Slowly Because of Anti-Growth Policy
The new Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) report measuring how fast the economy grew in the fourth quarter of 2013 and for the entire year of 2013 confirms that while the U.S. economy has clearly picked up steam, it is still in the grip of a subpar recovery from the recession that ended in 2009.

WSJ | Economists React: For Economy ‘Winter From Hell’
U.S. employers added 113,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.6%. It was the second straight month of weaker-than-expected job growth, with December’s number revised up a bit to 75,000. Economists disagreed about whether the weather played a role, and some found silver linings in Friday’s report.

Health Care

National Journal | Congress's Medicare Deal Isn't a Deal at All
Democrats and Republicans are touting a compromise that would repeal a flawed formula that determines Medicare physician payments, but for now it's a deal in name only.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obamacare isn’t a train wreck, it’s a cancer
When a locomotive crashes, it stops. Obamacare, on the other hand, just keeps on going like a cancer that’s ignored, perpetuating itself and destroying everything in its path. While we thought the health care act was a train wreck, it’s more like cancer.
Washington Times | Obamacare’s ‘poverty trap’
The fiery debate over Obamacare this week sparked new fears about the harm it will inflict on our economy, jobs and the rising costs of medical care.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Is There a Monetary Story Behind the College Bubble?
It is hard to know exactly how to interpret the plight of the modern college student. The term "lost generation" isn't exactly original, having been used to describe grads during the three "jobless" recoveries of the interest rate targeting age, but the current predicament is much more dire and unrelenting. At least the graduate population after the dot-com recession had a housing bubble to look forward to, as the current iteration of asset inflation holds little such "hope."


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Retirees' Untapped Tax-Deferred Savings Face Big Hit
Many boomers in or near retirement have a big share of their wealth tied up in tax-deferred accounts that will cost them extra in taxes if they fail to plan carefully.

Heritage Foundation | IRS Chief: Taxpayers Need to Be Aware of Possible Repayments for Obamacare Tax Credits
The new head of the Internal Revenue Service said in a congressional hearing Wednesday that he’s concerned Americans aren’t aware of a tax credit issue in Obamacare that could cause headaches as early as next year’s tax filing season.


Politico | Another disappointing jobs report
The Labor Department on Friday reported that the economy added 113,000 jobs in January while the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.6 percent.
Politico | Senate blocks unemployment insurance again
Two separate proposals to restore unemployment benefits for three months failed to garner sufficient Republican support to clear a 60-vote threshold to advance. The bills are part of a broader effort by Democrats and President Barack Obama to address income inequality that will include an attempt in March to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Here's Proof: the Obama Administration Doesn't Care Whether You Work Or Not
It was mildly surprising  when the Congressional Budget Office announced this week that the Affordable Care Act will result in some 2.5 million fewer Americans working than otherwise. What was shocking was that the Obama administration response revealed that the president is simply indifferent to whether you have a job or not. In the new Newspeak, a job equals confinement and unemployment is liberation.
Daily Caller | Obama’s work trap: Create fewer jobs and induce people to work less at those jobs
So let me get this right. Team Obama taxes millionaires who create jobs, while Obamacare creates incentives not to work at those jobs. No wonder recovery is so anemic. The policy here is to create fewer jobs and induce people to work less at those jobs. If my logic is correct, this runs counter to the most basic principles of our economy and our country.
The Fiscal Times | Obamacare Jobs Plan—Tune In, Sign Up, Drop Out
The argument that government subsidies from redistributed wealth is a disincentive to work is hardly new. Conservatives have made that argument that for decades, and it has been a recent component of the debate over whether to keep extending long-term unemployment benefits that originated as an “emergency” measure five years ago in the midst of the Great Recession’s massive job losses. It is, however, novel to see the Barack Obama White House embrace that effect as a feature of its central social-engineering program, the Affordable Care Act. - See more at:

WSJ | Job Growth Was Stronger Last Year After Revisions
Job growth was slightly stronger last year than previously thought, according to annual government revisions, but the overall picture remains one of a lackluster recovery.


Politico | GOP ends week with no debt plan
The nation’s borrowing limit needs to be lifted by the end of the month — just seven legislative days away — and there’s no clear plan in place.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | Testimony on the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024
This statement summarizes CBO's economic forecast and baseline budget projections for the years 2014 to 2024. Those estimates were released in the report titled The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024 (February 2014).

CATO | New CBO Numbers Show a Remarkably Simple Path to a Balanced Budget
A just-released report from the bean counters at the Congressional Budget Office is getting lots of attention because the bureaucrats are now admitting that Obamacare will impose much more damage to the economy than they previously predicted.