Tuesday, March 4, 2014

General Economics

National Journal | Cut to GDP Growth Doesn't Necessarily Spell Trouble for Economy
Last summer, the U.S. economy seemed like it was just starting to hum along. The government reported growth of 4.1 percent in the third quarter, the fastest it had been since 2011. Then, the fourth quarter came along, bringing with it a government shutdown and the start of snow, and the economy's growth slowed by nearly 2 percentage points—dropping to 2.4 percent, according to the latest estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
CNN Money | Radio Shack closing 1,100 stores
Electronics retailer Radio Shack plans to close as many as 1,100 stores -- or nearly 20% of its locations.
WSJ | U.S. Factories Bounce Back in February
An important gauge of the health of U.S. factories gained traction in February despite the continuing harsh winter, reflecting manufacturers' confidence about growth prospects at home and overseas.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | How to fix public education in America
The U.S. spends more on education than most countries, but the private sector may have more to offer.
Washington Times | Happy 225th birthday, Congress and the still imperfect union
Today is the 225th anniversary of the First Congress under the Constitution meeting in the then-capital of New York City. Unfortunately, Americans have never really celebrated this historic event.
Mercatus | The Economic Situation, March 2014
Quivering financial markets in a post-taper economy remind me once again to always follow the money when trying to predict where this world is headed. New Fed chair Janet Yellen spoke truth to power when she testified in February that the Fed had stopped watering the money tree and that US labor markets were a long way from normal.
NBER | Retirement Security in an Aging Society
The share of the U.S. population over the age of 65 was 8.1 percent in 1950, 12.4 percent in 2000, and is projected to reach 20.9 percent by 2050.

WSJ | How Stocks React to Geopolitical Uncertainty
An escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine roiled global markets Monday, but if history is any indication, the declines may be short-lived.

Health Care

National Journal | Why Hillary Clinton Was Not a Fan of the Individual Mandate
In the fall of 1993, as then-first lady Hillary Clinton was pushing her health care reform package, she warned Democratic lawmakers that the individual mandate was a political loser, according to new documents released Friday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | America's painful doctor shortage is threatening health care reform
The new federal budget contains a proposal to spend more to mint new physicians. But it doesn't go nearly far enough -- and without fixing the doctor shortage, reforming the health care system is a fantasy.

WSJ | Obamacare Effects Account for Most of Income, Spending Increases
The Commerce Department reported Monday that consumer spending rose a better-than-expected 0.4% and personal incomes climbed 0.3% in January. The new health-care law accounted for a big chunk of the increase on both fronts.
National Review | One in Three Say They’ve Been Personally Hurt by Obamacare
One-third of Americans say the Affordable Care Act has had a negative impact on them personally, while 14 percent say the law has helped them, according to a new Rasmussen survey. The poll finds that public dissatisfaction with Obamcare remains nearly as high as it was during the height of the website’s problems last year.


FOX Business | Bernanke: Fed Could Have Done More During Crisis
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank could have done more to fight the country's financial crisis and that he struggled to find the right way to communicate with markets.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Shedding Some Light on Shadow Banking
The term "shadow banking" is one of those Orwellian terms that can undermine critical thought. It has a negative, vaguely sinister connotation about a source of financing that is an essential and desirable part of the financial system. As discussion about the regulation of nonbank entities begins in earnest, it's time to clear the air about what these institutions are and how they operate.
AEI | Simple banking rules for a complex world
The Bankers’ New Clothes is a book much longer than it needs to be, which expresses several simple ideas, some right, some wrong, which would have made a very interesting and provocative article.


Politico | Why Republicans abandoned tax revamp pledge
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp could not make the numbers work. Republicans had vowed for more than three years to slash the top individual income tax rate to 25 percent as part of a Tax Code overhaul.
CNN Money | Obama wants better tax deal for working families
Among those provisions is the preferential tax treatment for carried interest paid to managers of private equity funds, including venture capital. Carried interest represents a share of profits from the fund and is taxed at the capital gains rate of 20%. Obama proposes, as he has many times before, taxing it as ordinary income.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Caller | Dave Camp’s tax reform shows why we should abolish the IRS
As Congressman Dave Camp’s big line goes, the United States’ tax code is ten times the size of the Bible, but with none of the Good News.

Market Watch | What tax plans from Barack Obama and Dave Camp have in common
The fiscal 2015 budget unveiled by President Barack Obama on Tuesday has items in common with a plan released last week by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican. The exact details don’t always match, but both proposals would seek to extract more revenue from the wealthy, cut corporate taxes, and treat so-called carried interest as ordinary income.
CATO | Grading the Camp Tax Reform Plan
To make fun of big efforts that produce small results, the Roman poet Horace wrote, “The mountains will be in labor, and a ridiculous mouse will be brought forth.”


FOX Business | Small Business Employment Flat in February
The index, based on data from more than 200,000 small business customers using Intuit and QuickBooks payroll software, showed no net job growth in February. In comparison, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees added 10,000 jobs in January.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Barrons | In Defense of the Official Jobless Rate
"When a great many people are unable to find work," former President Calvin Coolidge is supposed to have said, "unemployment results." The statement contains a grain of insight that today's critics of the jobless rate might heed.
WSJ | North Carolina Is a Case Study in Jobless-Benefits Cut
Long-term unemployment benefits ended in North Carolina in July, six months before the federal government ended $25 billion in long-term jobless benefits for all the other states at the start of the new year.
Mercatus | Minimum-Wage Hike Would Hurt Pennsylvania
President Obama recently chose Pennsylvania to tout his executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. This comes as no surprise, considering a recent Franklin and Marshall poll finds one-third of Pennsylvanians view unemployment and the economy as the state's most important problem.


National Journal | Obama's Budget Blueprint Heads to the Hill
President Obama's proposed spending plan for fiscal 2015, to be unveiled Tuesday, will command much of the attention in Congress this week. Both the House and Senate Budget committees have set hearings for Wednesday to pore over its details.
Bloomberg | Obama Sends Congress $3.9 Trillion Budget to Boost Growth
President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.9 trillion budget request with increased spending for employment, education and job-training programs to boost the economy, financed partly by trimming tax breaks for upper-income families and some businesses.
WSJ | Paul Ryan Faces Budget Challenge
Rep. Paul Ryan emerged as a leader within the Republican Party thanks to six budgets that laid out plans to rein in federal spending. But on his seventh, he faces an unusual hurdle: a deal with Democrats that he negotiated himself.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | The Long-Run Effects of Federal Budget Deficits on National Saving and Private Domestic Investment: Working Paper 2014-02
CBO’s analyses of the long-term effects of changes in federal fiscal policy include the effects of changes in federal budget deficits on aggregate output and income.

Heritage Foundation | Why Obama's Budget Should Be Dead On Arrival
Barack Obama keeps saying that there isn’t a government program for every problem, but his new near-$4 trillion 2015 budget suggests just the opposite. There is more federal money here for everything from changing the planet’s temperature to green energy to transit systems to nowhere to expanded welfare state programs to federal day care.