Friday, February 21, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Sales of U.S. Existing Homes Slump to Lowest Since July 2012
Sales of previously owned U.S. homes dropped in January to the lowest level in more than a year as harsh winter weather combined with a lack of supply, tight credit and declining affordability slowed demand.
Fox News | Fewer US homes repossessed by lenders in January, but some states could see foreclosure surge
Lenders repossessed fewer U.S. homes in January, bringing the number of completed foreclosures down to the lowest level in more than six years
Bloomberg | G-20 Pushes Growth as Stimulus Withdrawal Backed, Draft Says
The Group of 20 will take “concrete actions” to bolster growth while backing the normalization of monetary policy in advanced economies, according to a draft communique seen by Bloomberg News.
WSJ | College Uses Test Data to Show Value
Cash-Conscious Families Clamor for Numbers on How Much Students Learn.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Mortgage Troubles Near Prerecession Levels
Five years after the end of the U.S. recession, the number of Americans who are behind on their mortgages and the backlog of homes in the foreclosure process are finally narrowing to prerecession levels.
CNN Money | Mortgage bailout now profitable for taxpayers
Fannie Mae's latest quarterly profit means taxpayers have now turned a profit on the $187 billion bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
CNBC | Cost of owning a home is spiking in 2014
The sharp rise in home prices in 2013 caused two conflicting results: The return of positive home equity for hundreds of thousands of borrowers and considerably weaker affordability for an equally large pool of potential homebuyers.
Fiscal Times | Is Poor Forecasting the Achilles Heel of Economics?
Unfortunately, much economic forecasting is quite cosmetic. Forecasters are often trying to predict estimates rather than reality. This is an occupational hazard resulting from the common practice of continually revising economic data, sometimes long after the fact.
Cato Institute | GOP Should Support Free Trade
Free trade means removing harmful policies. Trade agreements are an effective way to make that happen, and trade promotion authority is meant to facilitate those agreements.

WSJ: Real Time Economics | As G-20 Starts, World Bank Highlights Global Risks
The World Bank gave G20 emerging market officials fresh ammunition in their efforts to urge greater caution by the U.S. Federal Reserve as the central bank considers its easy money exit strategy.

Health Care

Heritage Foundation | Biden Lowers Obamacare Enrollment Expectations
Speaking to patrons of a Minneapolis coffee shop on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden moved the goal post further back on how many Americans would enroll in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges before the March 31 deadline.


WSJ | Fed Releases Transcripts of 2008 Crisis-Era Meetings
"The Federal Reserve on Friday released transcripts of 14 scheduled and emergency policy meetings it held in 2008, providing the most complete view yet into developments inside the nation's central bank as the financial crisis worsened and threatened to plunge the U.S. into another Great Depression."

WSJ: Real Time Economics | Federal Reserve 2008: A Timeline of Fed Actions and Financial Crisis Events
The year 2008 marked the worst of the financial crisis, a time when the Federal Reserve struggled to prevent the financial system from collapsing and triggering another depression.
WSJ: Real Time Economics | U.S. Inflation Is a Window into a Global Growth Risk
The U.S. seems to be in a new part of the inflation cycle. U.S. services inflation is stabilizing at a lower level than it was in the 1990s and 2000s. It is long past falling. Goods inflation, on the other hand, is in a new down cycle.


CNN Money | Colorado stash: $184M in marijuana taxes
Colorado expects to take in about $184 million in tax revenue from marijuana in the first 18 months after legislation -- and much of that money will be funneled into teaching kids to stay away from pot.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fox Business | The Tax Benefits of Health Insurance and Fringe Benefits
It’s no secret that providing health insurance is expensive, making , many small businesses choose not provide benefits, letting their employees deal with securing individual plans.
Market Watch | Obama plan: Cut tax breaks for richest retirement savers
President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress in early March, as part of his fiscal 2015 budget, to reduce some of the tax advantages for employer-sponsored retirement plans for higher-income earners, according to published reports.


Fox Business | RBS to Retrench in Investment Banking, Cut 30,000 Jobs: Report
People familiar with the plans told the financial daily that the bank is expected to refocus on three groups that include retail customers, small businesses and larger companies.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Can higher wages actually hurt the economy?
CBO measures the elasticity of demand for labor at a paltry -0.1. The net result is that for any wage increase, CBO would find workers making more money, and very few workers losing their jobs.
Washington Times | LAMBRO: Obama killing jobs to create prosperity?
President Obama was hit by two major reports this week that reinforced what many, if not most, of us knew about his economic policies: They are killing jobs.
Forbes | The Minimum Wage Is An Economic Black Hole
Is raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hour a good idea? It depends upon how you feel about throwing 500,000 more Americans into an economic black hole.

CNN Money | Is Wal-Mart serious about boosting the minimum wage? Don't bet on it.
The world's largest retailer is disavowing a report that it's "looking" at supporting a Democratic push. But the company has a history of playing word games on the wage issue anyway.


National Journal | Deficit Slips From Political Agenda, Taking Advocates Down, Too
With spending down and only the hardest choices left, deficit reduction has lost steam.
Fox Business | Obama to Propose Wholly Political Budget -- Progress Be Damned!
President Obama is putting the finishing touches on his budget message to Congress. According to press reports, it would be criminal if it wasn’t so comical!

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | Obama to drop entitlement cuts from 2015 budget
Gone, the White House said, is Obama’s proposal for chained CPI and is any sense of presidential urgency on long-term entitlement reform.
CRS | The Debt Limit Since 2011
Rising debt levels, along with continued differences in views of fiscal policy, led to a series of contentious debt limit episodes in recent years.

CBO | Federal Budget Deficits Are Projected to Decline Through 2015 but Rise Thereafter, Further Boosting Federal Debt
Today’s post summarizes CBO’s assessment of the budget outlook over the next decade. Three more posts—to appear over the next several days—will provide more detail about the outlook for spending, revenues, and the economy.