Thursday, March 13, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | Zombie foreclosures still weighing on housing markets
Foreclosures have hit their lowest level in years, yet many cities report they are still struggling with the blight of "zombie foreclosures."
Bloomberg | Retail Sales in U.S. Increase for First Time in 3 Months
Retail sales in the U.S. rose in February for the first time in three months, a sign consumers are starting to shake off the effects of the harsh weather that had curbed spending even more than previously estimated.
CNN Money | 4 reasons Russia will keep gas flowing
Russia has turned off Europe's gas supplies before but will think long and hard before using energy as a weapon in its dispute with the West over Ukraine.
CNBC | US poised to become world's only superpower
I've been traveling around the U.S. for the past 18 months and have noticed enormous changes. They're not driven by the Federal Reserve's easy money policies, although many of the positive changes taking place in energy, manufacturing, technology and retail sales could not have happened if the Fed, namely Ben Bernanke, had not saved the economy from another Great Depression.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Millions of renters say they really want to buy a home this year
Millions of Americans say they want to buy a home this year, but many won't be able to, according to a new survey from Zillow.
Daily Caller | Big government still devouring freedom
A year ago, my book Devouring Freedom was released. It sought to address two questions. Does government growth really shrink individual freedom? And can big government ever be stopped?
Mercatus | The Regulation and Value of Prediction Markets
Prediction markets are exchanges where individuals trade what are sometimes called “event contracts.” Broadly speaking, these contracts specify some future event with different possible outcomes, define a payment structure based on those outcomes, and state a date when the contract expires.
AEI | QM and ATR rules limit mortgage credit availability
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) new rules for mortgage lending practices will not deter predatory lending and will significantly increase many small banks costs of mortgage lending. 

Health Care

Politico | Kathleen Sebelius: No more Obamacare delays
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that there would be no delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate, the penalty for violating it or the March 31 closing date of the enrollment period, the strongest statement yet that the administration has no plans for more major changes to the law in the final weeks of the first sign-up period.
National Journal | White House: Sequester No Longer Applies to Part of Obamacare
The Obama administration has decided that the sequester's mandatory spending cuts no longer apply to part of Obamacare.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNBC | Health care system's $5.6 billion security problem
Health care system's $5.6 billion security problem
WSJ | ObamaCare Premiums to Rise, But Who Will Pay Them?
Testifying Wednesday before the House Committee on Ways and Means, Mrs. Sebelius added that she expects next year's prices to rise "at a smaller pace than what we've seen" in previous years.
FOX Business | How ObamaCare Will Impact Your Taxes
The deadline to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is less than three weeks away, and the law could impact your future tax situation.


Market Watch | U.S. import prices jump 0.9% in February
The prices paid for imported goods rose 0.9% in February, mainly because of higher fuel costs, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Knot Says ECB Rate Cut Remains Option If Inflation Deteriorates
European Central Bank Governing Council member Klaas Knot said interest-rate cuts remain an option if euro-area inflation deteriorates further.

WSJ | Fed Nominees Face Senate in Weather-Delayed Hearing
Three nominees to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, including former Bank of Israel chief Stanley Fischer, head to Capitol Hill Thursday for a confirmation hearing held by the Senate Banking Committee.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | A Tax Break Worthy of Bipartisan Cheers
The release of the president's budget was once a monumental day on the economic policy calendar—an event that policy wonks and market participants waited for with bated breath, that garnered huge press attention, and that kicked off serious debates in Congress. In short, a Very Big Deal. Not any more.


CNN Money | 10 big overtime pay violators
These 10 industries are frequently investigated by the Department of Labor for overtime pay violations.
Bloomberg | Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall to Lowest Level Since November
The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest level since the end of November, a sign of further improvement in the labor market.
WSJ | OECD Jobless Rate Remains Steady at 7.6%
The rate of unemployment across the 34 nations that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development steadied in January, having fallen in each of the three previous months, although the number of people without jobs continued to decline.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Six Years Later, Obama's Policies Still Aren't Creating Jobs
The latest unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests the economy may be slowly clawing its way out of a slump, but it does little to show whether the administration's policies have been an effective response to the economic downturn.

WSJ | Even Skilled Workers Can Get Stuck in Dead-End Jobs
In a recent analysis, Labor Department economist Audrey Watson examined occupational specialization within different business sectors. That is, which jobs are most exclusive to a particular industry.
Heritage Foundation | Senate Plan to Replace Fannie, Freddie Faces Skepticism from House Critic
The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said he is skeptical of a forthcoming Senate proposal that would replace mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a new government regulator.


CATO | Sweden, Spending Restraint, and the Benefits of Obeying Fiscal Policy’s Golden Rule
When I first started working on fiscal policy in the 1980s, I never thought I would consider Sweden any sort of role model.
WSJ | Quantifying Uncertainty in Obama’s Budget
When President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget was released earlier this month, the tables in the back showed the federal deficit steadily declining from 3.7% of the gross domestic product to 1.6% of GDP in 2024. But the “Analytical Perspectives” volume, usually released with the budget, was delayed until this week.  Now that it’s out, you can put that 1.6% number, well, in perspective.