Friday, March 7, 2014

General Economics

FOX News | US trade deficit widened slightly to $39.1 billion in January, reflecting jump in imported oil
The U.S. trade deficit widened slightly in January as a rise in imports of oil and other foreign goods offset a solid increase in exports.
CNN Money | The real reasons to export U.S. gas
The crisis in Ukraine has sparked calls for the U.S. to step up its natural gas exports. The hope is that increased supplies will weaken the hand of Russia, Iran or other nations in future confrontations.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Myth of the Great Wages 'Decoupling'
Many pundits, politicians and economists claim that wages have fallen behind productivity gains over the last generation. This "decoupling" explains allegedly stagnant (or in some versions of the story, declining) middle-class incomes and is held out as a crisis of the market economy.
Washington Times | Obama economic policies revising growth and hope downward
The Obama economy continues to sink deeper into a recessionary abyss, where full-time jobs are in short supply, incomes are flat and life for many millions of Americans is a daily struggle.
CRS | An Analysis of the Geographic Distribution of the Mortgage Interest Deduction
This report analyzes variation in the mortgage interest deduction tax expenditure across states. Tax expenditures, such as the mortgage interest deduction, can generally be viewed as government spending administered via the tax code, or as tax incentives that are intended to achieve particular policy objectives.

WSJ | Social Security Proposes to Tighten Rules on Disability Appeals
The Social Security Administration, under pressure from Congress, is moving to tighten rules that would require people applying for disability benefits to present the government with all relevant medical information – even if it says they can work.

Health Care

Politico | House to vote on 'doc fix' – with Obamacare funds
House Republicans are planning to bring up a permanent “doc fix” bill next week — paid for by repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare.
National Journal | HHS Doesn't Know How Many Uninsured Are Signing Up for Obamacare
Gary Cohen, the soon-to-be-former director of the main implementation office at the Health and Human Services Department, stopped by an insurance industry conference Thursday to offer an update on enrollment. The main points were familiar: People are signing up (about 4 million have picked a plan so far), and the administration is going all out to promote Obamacare over the last few weeks of the enrollment window.
CNN Money | Your workplace health insurance costs $1,200 more
Employees are shelling out 28% more for workplace health benefits than just three years ago.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
FOX Business | ObamaCare’s ‘Fix’ and It’s Ripple Effect for 2016 and Beyond
After the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday it was extending its policy allowing Americans to keep their previously-cancelled plans for an additional two years, the cost to insurance companies, individuals and the federal government comes into question.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | The Federal Reserve Is Enabling Obama And Congress' Out Of Control Spending
In the past twelve months the federal government has increased the national debt held by the public by $697 billion while the total debt has grown by $820 billion.
Fortune | Banks may be lending too much
In the past three years, banks have upped their lending to businesses by $415 billion, according to That increase is far larger than it is for any other lending category. Nearly two-thirds of the increase in lending since the financial crisis has been to businesses.

WSJ | Hilsenrath Analysis: Fed Likely to Continue Taper, Consider Changing Forward Guidance
There is likely enough to like in Friday’s jobs report to keep the Federal Reserve on track to scale back its monthly bond buying by another $10 billion to $55 billion at its March 18-19 policy meeting.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Taxing carried interest discourages investment
President Obama’s proposal to tax certain returns on investments, known as “carried interest,” as ordinary income would raise taxes on some investment partnerships. It would bring in $14 billion over 10 years to Uncle Sam, but its disincentive effects on investment could be far greater.
Mercatus | The Deduction of State and Local Taxes from Federal Income Taxes
Taxpayers who itemize their deductions are allowed to deduct state and local taxes from their federal taxable income. This deduction is limited to either income or sales taxes, but not both.


Politico | Senate unemployment debate returns
A group of deal-seeking Republicans introduced legislation Thursday evening that would extend expired unemployment benefits for five months, serving as a counteroffer to a Democratic bill that revives long-term jobless aid for six months, GOP Senate sources said.
Bloomberg | Payrolls in U.S. Rise 175,000; Unemployment Rate Climbs
Employers added more workers than projected in February, indicating the U.S. economy is starting to bounce back from a weather-induced setback. The jobless rate unexpectedly climbed from a five-year low.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | Five ways to fix the U.S. job market
Many Americans still aren't working. Friday's monthly jobs report for February is better than most expected. On a deeper level, it underscores a lot of what we've seen in previous months: An ever-smaller share of able-bodied, working-age Americans have jobs. The 2008 financial crisis dented demand for labor, but this decline in employment started years earlier. The U.S. employment-population ratio peaked in the late 1990s and has slid downward ever since.

WSJ | Don’t Sweat the Rise in the Unemployment Rate
The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7% but a broader measure of joblessness actually fell 0.1 percentage point to 12.6%, offering a hint of positive news.
Heritage Foundation | Some Recovery: Two Million Fewer Americans Are Employed Than Were a Year Ago
Since this recovery began, job growth has maintained an underwhelming pace of half the employment growth of the average recovery. If the number of jobs had just kept pace with the growth of food stamps recipients, we would have at least 2 million more Americans working today. If the economy were where Obama promised it would be when he signed his stimulus bill, we would have at least 3 million more jobs and an unemployment rate of 5 percent.
WSJ | Jobs Report Highlights: From Bad to Merely Sluggish
Workers’ incomes climbed at a healthy clip. Average hourly earnings for all employees climbed 9 cents to $24.31. Earnings were up 52 cents from a year earlier, or 2.2%.


FOX Business | Yields Highest In Six Weeks After Solid Jobs Gains
U.S. Treasuries yields rose to their highest levels in six weeks on Friday after job growth rose more than expected in February, which could ease fears of an abrupt slowdown in economic growth and keep the Federal Reserve on track in reducing its monetary stimulus.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | Three worthwhile initiatives in the Obama budget
Despite these inadequacies, within the budget are at least three ideas that deserve serious consideration: proposals related to spending on infrastructure like roads and bridges, to job training and to early childhood education.