Wednesday, March 12, 2014

General Economics

WSJ | OPEC Raises Oil Demand Forecast
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries boosted its closely watched forecast for oil demand growth for the second month in a row Wednesday, despite continuing to warn of possible emerging market headwinds.
Market Watch | Fannie, Freddie common shares extend plunge
Common shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dropped in early trading Wednesday, extending Tuesday's plunge, when investors sold stock after senators released a blueprint for winding down the federally controlled mortgage buyers.
WSJ | Wall Street Average Bonus Up 15% in 2013
Wall Street bonuses are expected to be up 15% from a year earlier, boosted by compensation deferred from previous years, according to an estimate released by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | Senate Banking leaders reach housing finance deal
The leaders of the Senate Banking Committee have reached a bipartisan agreement on how to overhaul the housing finance market — now they face the challenge of building a broad base of support to establish their legislation as the leading proposal for getting rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Investors | President 'Long Way to Go' Obama
For five years now, President Obama has been telling Americans that we "have a long way to go" before the country will see a return to prosperity. Just how long does he expect us to wait?
Washington Times | Spending’s just another word for nothing left to lose
The federal government has grown obscenely fat over the years, and under President Obama, it’s gotten much fatter, eating into our economy and the very foundations that made America great.
Real Clear Markets | NFIB Small Business Optimism Index Slips Back
With only one component increasing over the month, the Small Business Optimism Index fell to 91.4 in February, reversing three months of consecutive gains.

Library of Economics | Economics must be harder than it looks
There are two different major economic theories that attempt to explain the operation of the money using, entrepreneurial economy that we call capitalism and its financial markets.

Health Care

Bloomberg | Employers Raise U.S. Worker Deductibles to Reduce Health Costs
Four of five U.S. companies have raised deductibles or are considering doing so as health costs increase, according to a survey of more than 700 employers.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | ObamaCare's Secret Mandate Exemption
ObamaCare's implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

Heritage Foundation | The Obama Administration's About-Face on Medicare
The Obama administration seems determined not to rock the boat before the midterm congressional election this fall.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | A Jealous Government Burdened Us With the Fed
The musty old document that supposedly governs this country, the Constitution of the United States put into practice way back in 1789, makes no provision for the governmental institution that has proven the most influential of our time: the Federal Reserve.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | How GOP can sell a 20 percent flat tax rate
As someone who has written about the flat tax for numerous publications, I can tell you why. First, it has never been properly explained to voters. Second, political messaging about its benefits has always been on the weak side.
CATO | An Obama Tax That Can Silently Take Your Life Away
Last summer, I reported on physicians Fred Burbank and Thomas J. Fogarty, who had written an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal about a tax to pay for Obamacare that was imposed on U.S. manufacturers of medical devices, which, I wrote, “could potentially short-circuit the lives of the elderly. But what medical device inventors have created is not limited to the aged.”

FOX Business | Taking Advantage of Tax Deductions
Millions of Americans will be paying more because of higher tax levels imposed by Obamacare and the ironically named American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. But even if you aren't subject to the higher rates, it still pays to get all the breaks you can.


Politico | Obama plans expansion of overtime eligibility
Obama will on Thursday direct Labor Secretary Tom Perez to raise the threshold for workers to be covered by overtime protections. The move will cover millions of employees at banks, restaurants, convenience stores and in “executive, administrative and professional” posts defined as “white collar” posts, a White House official said.
WSJ | CFOs Fear Raising Minimum Wage Could Lead to Job Losses
Duke University and CFO Magazine said U.S. chief financial officers fear that hiking the minimum wage to $10 an hour could lead to substantial job losses in the retail, service and manufacturing industries.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
National Journal | Are Robots About to Take Our Jobs?
Robots have been eliciting some strong feelings lately, an irony that is surely lost on them. Economists warn that the amazing technological strides made in recent years—everything from smartphones, to automatons that can work safely on shop floors alongside humans, to driverless cars—could soon put large swaths of the workforce out of a job.
Fortune | America's labor shortage solution? Women.
Amid a looming workforce shortage, women will need to assume a significantly more prominent role in the workforce.
Bloomberg | Your Job Taught to Machines Puts Half U.S. Work at Risk
Artificial intelligence has arrived in the American workplace, spawning tools that replicate human judgments that were too complicated and subtle to distill into instructions for a computer. Algorithms that “learn” from past examples relieve engineers of the need to write out every command.
CBO | Testimony on Increasing the Minimum Wage: Effects on Employment and Family Income
Increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold. But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.

WSJ | Those With Jobs Are More Secure Even as Hopes Dwindle for Long-Term Unemployed
Yet another recession-triggered split in the consumer sector is becoming more evident: Higher job security among those with a job versus dwindling hope for the long-run unemployed.


FOX Business | Obama's Budget Targets Social Security Benefits
Buried in President Obama's massive 2015 proposed budget is a major change to Social Security regulations. If enacted, it would eliminate popular Social Security claiming strategies that significantly increase the size of people's benefits.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Troubling Numbers in the Obama Budget
When he was governor of New York, Mario Cuomo famously remarked that "You campaign in poetry; you govern in prose." To which he might well have added, "And you budget in numbers." Although President Obama's fiscal 2015 budget is professedly aspirational, its numbers reveal—as its prose does not—the path on which our country is now embarked. Americans of every persuasion should ask themselves whether this is the path they want.
Mercatus | The Uses and Misuses of Budget Data
How can analysts using the same set of budget figures come to dramatically different conclusions about the course of federal government spending? It’s because they start with different notions of what’s important in the spending outlook.

Economics One | Why It’s Hard to Make the Unpopular Stimulus Look Good
Some columnists have been using the 5-year anniversary of the 2009 discretionary fiscal stimulus package to claim that it worked to jump-start the economy.  It’s a tough case to make.  The very word “stimulus” has become a dirty word because so many Americans view it as a failure.