Friday, March 14, 2014

General Economics

Politico | Barack Obama cracks down on for-profit colleges
The Obama administration on Friday took an aggressive step to crack down on for-profit career training colleges, proposing a regulatory regimen that could shut down hundreds of degree programs — enrolling a million students in fields ranging from accounting to air-conditioning repair — for failing to place graduates in well-paying jobs.
FOX Business | Consumer Sentiment Dips in March
Consumer sentiment dipped modestly in early March, entirely due to reduced expectations for the future, a survey said on Friday.
Politico | BP deal opens door for new U.S. drilling
BP will be allowed to sign new leases to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico under a deal announced Thursday with the U.S. government that resolves outstanding issues tied to the British giant’s role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
FOX Business | Big Data: Good For Business, Not For Jobs
Big Data is proving to be a big money-maker for businesses, but data workers aren't reaping similar rewards. A new report suggests that while many companies have committed to spending more of their budgets on Big Data marketing initiatives in the new year, job opportunities for data analysts are actually on the decline.
WSJ | Economists See China Slowdown as Biggest Threat to U.S. Recovery
Forget the Crimea annexation or a U.S.-Russia standoff. The biggest international threat to U.S. economic growth is the slowdown in China, say economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fiscal Times | Is the Middle Class Better Off Than We Think?
It seems to be taken as given these days that the American middle class is struggling — perhaps even disappearing — as income gains are concentrated at the high end of the wealth distribution, and the kind of well-paid blue collar jobs that existed for several generations continue to disappear. - See more at:
Fiscal Times | Obama Works Overtime to Interfere With Business
The Roman Empire notoriously distracted its citizenry by providing bread and circuses to mollify and distract them from the real problems of their lives and the failures of their government. Washington DC kept up that hoary tradition this week, starting with an all-night Senate session on global warming, conducted by Senate Democrats protesting the lack of action by the US government on the issue. - See more at:
Market Watch | Oil sale from SPR raises questions of timing, politics
The U.S. government picked an unusual time to announce that it is putting up to 5 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for sale.
Real Clear Markets | 2014 Could Likely Be a 2008 Housing Repeat
After fretting over mortgages for close to a decade now, we still cannot escape the wincing throes of the housing bubble. I should actually be more specific in that regard, as it now appears closer to reality that we will actually experience a second revulsion in housing in 2014 very similar in mannerism to a bubble collapse.
AEI | Gain value from technology and private partnerships
America's infrastructure is old, poorly maintained and in need of revitalization. But the cost of major renovations exceeds state and local resources in a time of persistent fiscal problems in cities and when new federal infrastructure programs are unlikely to be approved.

WSJ | Korea-U.S. FTA Scorecard Shows Seoul the Bigger Winner
The U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement marks its second anniversary Saturday. The landmark deal, effective since March 15, 2012, helped boost bilateral trade. A question is which side benefits more? The answer is Seoul, not Washington, according to trade data in South Korea.

Health Care

National Journal | U.S. Health Care Is the Best! And the Worst.
From an international perspective, the American health care structure looks a lot like its system of education.
Bloomberg | Millions May Avoid Obamacare Penalty as Deadline Looms
Obamacare’s requirement that all Americans carry insurance or face penalties, part of the effort to gain universal coverage, may not be much of a rule at all.
National Journal | Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health—and How to Fix Them
The goal that Lorraine Speaks has set for herself seems simple: Eat better. Barely 5 feet tall, the 58-year-old weighs 240 pounds. To lose weight, she knows she'll have to cut back on processed foods and the bags of miniature cookies that are her go-to snack


Bloomberg | Wholesale Prices in U.S. Unexpectedly Drop on Services
Producer prices in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in February, held back by the biggest decrease in the cost of services in almost a year.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Inflation Signs Lurk in Broader Labor Data Yellen Seeks
Janet Yellen says Federal Reserve policy makers need to look at a broader range of data to get a good handle on the job market. She hasn’t highlighted one labor indicator that economists say is sounding inflation alarms: short-term unemployment.
WSJ | The Fed's Taper Is Already Paying Off
The Federal Reserve started tapering its bond purchases at the beginning of the year and is on track to end them by October. That's good news for small businesses, jobs and living standards.
AEI | The crisis was not wasted, unfortunately
With sharp insight and the cynicism natural to a Chicago politician, Rahm Emanuel famously pronounced in 2008, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." A crisis, he continued, "provides the opportunity … to do things that you could not do before." How true.

WSJ | Fed Won’t Raise Rates Until Mid-2015, Economists Say
Most economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal think the Federal Reserve won’t raise interest rates before June 2015 despite a falling unemployment rate and improving economy.
Library of Economics | How the interest rate increase of 2015 caused the Great Recession
Evan Soltas has an excellent new post explaining why the Fed is likely to raise interest rates in late 2015. He thinks this policy is appropriate, but I'd like to focus on a different issue---whether this rate increase caused the Great Recession of 2008-09.


CNN Money | Colorado residents may get a refund for pot tax
Colorado residents could see some green in their pockets thanks to the new recreational marijuana taxes.


National Journal | The Senate Has a Deal on Unemployment Insurance
Senate negotiators have reached an agreement on extending unemployment-insurance benefits to the 2 million jobless Americans who have not received their checks since the program expired in December.
WSJ | Euro-Zone Employment Rose in Late 2013
The long decline in the number of people at work in the euro zone has come to an end, although any recovery in the jobs market is likely to be slow.
Daily Caller | Data shows millions of Americans falling out of the workforce
The number of native-born, working-age Americans who aren’t working has shot up by almost 9 million since 2007, and by almost 15 million since 2000, according to a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors reduced immigration.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Teens face toughest job market on record
Employment opportunities for teens and early 20-somethings have plummeted in recent years, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution.
Brookings | The Plummeting Labor Market Fortunes of Teens and Young Adults
Employment prospects for teens and young adults in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas plummeted between 2000 and 2011.

CATO | Raise Minimum Wage, Kill Jobs
During his State of the Union address, President Obama announced that he intended to raise minimum wages to $10.10/hour for certain workers. Based on data from EU countries, it is clear that minimum wage laws kill jobs. I concluded that hiking the minimum wage will kill jobs in the U.S., too. Executives surveyed in the Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey agree.
Heritage Foundation | Overtime Pay: Why More Government Meddling Isn't Good for Workers
Making more money is a good thing. But having a job you like is even better. Which is why President Obama’s announcement this week that he wants to increase the number of Americans eligible for overtime pay is not as good a deal as it sounds.


WSJ | U.S. Budget Deficit Narrows in First Five Months of Fiscal Year
The U.S. budget deficit narrowed in February, leaving the country on track for its smallest budget deficit in six years.