Monday, February 10, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | Taxpayers near profit on Fannie/Freddie bailout
The two mortgage financing companies that received whopping government bailouts in the financial crisis are on the verge of paying it all back.
Bloomberg | EU Banks’ Debt Addiction Threatens ECB-Led Overhaul
When Europe’s leaders set out in June 2012 to break the “vicious circle” between banks and sovereigns, they left rules for treating government bonds untouched, an oversight that may subvert their drive to prevent a recurrence of the debt crisis.
Market Watch | Japan's current-account deficit widens
Japan posted its widest-ever December current-account deficit, with the Finance Ministry reporting Monday that the gap hit ¥638.6 billion yen ($6.23 billion) for the third such deficit in a row.
WSJ | OECD Data Point to Pickup in Developed Countries
Growth is set to pick up in most large developed economies during the first half of 2014 and to stabilize in most large developing economies, with the exception of India, according to leading indicators published Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | These Are The Deals That Only President Obama Can Close
After reelection, President Obama’s first State-of-the-Union speech stressed trade expansion. He was pushing two treaties, still being negotiated. The first, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is close to completion, and the second, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is off to a good start, but is a long-term prospect.
Washington Times | Polling the real-world effect of a minimum-wage hike
President Obama wants to “give America a raise.” He’s raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 an hour and is urging Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
LA Times | The student loan crisis: How middle-class kids get hammered
Last October, in between arguments over the debt ceiling, the federal government somehow found time to send me an email. My student loan payment was 70 days past due, the message read, so the government had negatively reported me to each major credit bureau and would continue to report me until my account was brought current.
Washington Post | The end of government
Something strange is happening in Washington. We are slowly dismantling the federal government, even as its spending is growing larger. The paradox is that governmental competence is being systematically degraded while the government’s size, as measured by its budget, is increasing. We are spending more and getting less, and — unless present trends are reversed — this will continue for years. It threatens the end of government as we know it.
AEI | Meet the 99.999999 percent
Forget about the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. It’s really more like the 0.000001 percent versus everybody else. A tiny group — mostly comprising the Obama White House, a bunch of Washington Democrats, progressive economists, and the media elite — continues to fixate on income inequality as America’s greatest challenge.

WSJ | Early Look: A Shaky Economic Start
The first data of 2014, along with projections by economists, suggest the loss of momentum in China’s economy that began in December continued into the new year.
WSJ | Number of the Week: $2 Million Homes Going Like Hotcakes in California
$2 million: The entry price for California’s fastest growing segment of home sales.
Library of Economics | Why do booms feel good?
The answer to this question might seem obvious, but it isn't. Yes, booms feature lots of jobs and income, but most standard macro models suggest that booms feature "excesses," with too much employment and perhaps over-investment too.
CATO | Likely Sources of Obama’s Misconceptions about Income Mobility
President Obama has been expressing inordinate alarm about differences between income groups, and about mobility between such groups over time.   “The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility,” he says, “pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for.”  

Health Care

Politico | Obamacare Is Anything But Compassionate
The verdict is in, and it’s not good: Obamacare is rippling through the U.S. economy with vast implications for American prosperity.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Bailing out Obamacare
You don’t need a degree in higher math to see that the numbers for President Obama’s health care takeover don’t add up. Obamacare doles out generous subsidies to the elderly in the expectation that healthy young people will pay higher premiums to cover the added costs of insuring the old.
CRS | Medicaid Financing and Expenditures
Medicaid is a means-tested entitlement program that finances the delivery of primary and acute medical services as well as long-term services and supports. Medicaid is a federal and state partnership that is jointly financed by both the federal government and the states.


CNN Money | Janet Yellen takes center stage
After a bumpy ride last week, jittery investors are hoping for some soothing words from the new head of the Federal Reserve.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | Why the bad jobs number is really bad for the Fed
January's jobs number should have the Fed rethinking Bernanke's taper promise. Is it time for the real Janet Yellen to step up?

WSJ | Fed’s Rosengren Urges Patience in Pulling Back on Easy Money
Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, told The Wall Street Journal late Friday that the Fed should be slow in removing the central bank’s easy money policies and also about changing its strategy. 


CNN Money | Beijing loses billions as rich skip taxes
China is failing to collect billions in taxes from some of its wealthiest citizens, hampering efforts to tackle a widening gap between rich and poor.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | If the Government Is Taxing You, It's Doing It the Wrong Way
Economists believe that the best taxes are those that do not change people's decision. These taxes are deemed efficient. Taxes which change decisions are generally not efficient because they distort markets away from the equilibrium of supply and demand.


CNN Money | Low-wage Delta workers in NYC set for raise
The push to raise wages for low-paid workers has arrived at New York's airports.
WSJ | Ignore the Unemployment Rate
At 8:30 a.m. Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report, as it does at the start of every month. As usual, the announcement was widely covered in the financial and mainstream media—a convenient hook for commentary about the state of the economy, the arc of the recovery and the future of the U.S.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | A Minimum Wage That Will Work
The president's call for a $10.10 minimum wage applies the worn-out notion that higher wages create more jobs. Despite repeated minimum-wage increases over the years, we have seen a continued flight to the sidelines by people who are unable to find jobs because they don't exist.
WSJ | Workers Shed Caution, in a Healthy Sign for Labor Market
The percentage who voluntarily left their job—the nation's "quit rate"—hit 1.8% in November, the highest in the recovery and up from a low of 1.2% in September 2009, according to the Labor Department. About 2.4 million workers resigned in November. Some retired or simply chose not to work. But most quit to hunt for a new job or because they had already found one.


Politico | Clock running on debt ceiling
There have been conversations between Speaker John Boehner’s office and the White House on lifting the debt limit, but no negotiations over a package, according to sources familiar with the talks.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | Monthly Budget Review for January 2014
The federal government ran a budget deficit of $184 billion for the first four months of fiscal year 2014, CBO estimates—$107 billion less than the shortfall recorded in the same span last year.

Heritage Foundation | The Debt Ceiling Returns as National Debt Reaches $17.3 Trillion
The U.S. national debt has reached nearly $17.3 trillion. When the Treasury’s blank-check borrowing authority expired at midnight last night, the U.S. officially hit its debt limit.