Thursday, March 20, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Sales of Existing Homes in U.S. Fall to Lowest Since 2012
Purchases (ETSLTOTL) of previously owned homes in the U.S. declined in February to the lowest level since July 2012, a sign the industry may be slow to recover.
CNN Money | Western banks lend billions to Russia
Russian oligarchs, banks and corporations have been borrowing heavily from the West, underscoring the risks for both sides in escalating the Ukraine crisis.
Bloomberg | Leading Index Rises More Than Forecast Signaling U.S. Pickup
The index of U.S. leading indicators rose more than forecast in February, a sign the world’s largest economy will strengthen after a weather-induced slowdown in the first quarter.
WSJ | March Economic Polls Bode Ill for Democrats
Foreign policy was a relative strength for much of Mr. Obama's first term. No more. According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Mr. Obama's disapproval rating on handling foreign affairs is 53%, the highest of his presidency. That number is likely to have grown since the poll was conducted 11 days ago—before Vladimir Putin's very public humiliation of Mr. Obama's weak reaction to his takeover of Crimea.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Investors | Judging Obama's Economy By His Own Promises
President Obama gave a speech recently in which he, as he almost always does, patted himself on the back for what he described as a solid record on the economy.
WSJ | A Gas Export Strategy
The latest excuse for not exporting America's domestic energy resources to reduce Vladimir Putin's political influence is that it's too late to save Crimea. The anti-fossil-fuel left always has a reason not to drill, but their argument this time defies economic logic.
Forbes | The War on Poverty Wasn't A Failure -- It Was A Catastrophe
Has the War on Poverty been a failure?  Well, of course it has.  If you devote 50 years and $21.5 trillion (in 4Q2013 dollars) to anything, and people are arguing about whether it was a success or a failure, then you can be sure that it was a failure.
WSJ | Free Isn't Easy for Higher Ed
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam wants every high-school graduate in his state to be able to attend a community or technical college free of charge, a goal he says will strengthen the workforce and attract investment.
Mercatus | About the Mercatus Center's Regulatory Cost Calculator
When regulatory agencies propose regulations, they request comments on the rules from parties that will be affected. Agencies ask stakeholders to comment on the extent of the problem agencies are solving, options for solving those problems, and the costs and benefits of the options.
AEI | A mobility agenda for the right
It’s no secret that opportunity in the U.S. is staggeringly low. Studies suggest that mobility is lower in America than in other developed countries, and according to the Pew Charitable Trusts 70 percent of children born into poverty here will not make it to the middle class.

CATO | Government Infrastructure Is Inefficient Everywhere
An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today indicates that Edwards’ Law of Cost Overruns is an international standard. If a politician says that a project will cost $100 million, it will end up costing $200 million or more.

Health Care

National Journal | Congress Plans to Use Another Band-Aid for 'Doc Fix'
Congress intends to pass another short-term "doc fix" instead of the long-term solution physicians have been seeking for years, a House committee spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
National Journal | The Six States That Can't Decide on Medicaid Expansion
For the final six holdouts, the decision of whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has become a delicate tug-of-war between state officials and the federal government.
Washington Times | The White House wants feds to bail out insurers if they lose money on Obamacare
The Obama administration has taken a red pen to its signature health care reform law again — rewriting the measure without consulting Congress.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obamacare is a Trojan horse for government-run health care starting in 2015
President Obama promised that we could keep our health care plans and our doctors, but he knew that was a lie. He pretended Obamacare was the endgame. That was also false.
Fortune | Medicare put on the brink, yet again
Next week, Congress will be racing against the clock to put a band-aid on an automatic measure that will significantly cut what doctors receive for treating Medicare patients.


National Journal | How Janet Yellen Is Looking at the Economy
Don't look for daylight between Janet Yellen and her predecessor Ben Bernanke, the new Federal Reserve Board chair said Wednesday.
CNN Money | Fed moves economic goalposts
The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it will continue to gradually withdraw economic stimulus, but decided to move its goalposts for raising interest rates.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | A Few Key Takeaways from the March FOMC Meeting
The Federal Open Market Committee voted to further reduce their monthly securities purchases by an additional $10 billion, beginning in April.
Fiscal Times | Here’s What Janet Yellen Really Said About Rate Hikes - See more at:
As expected, Yellen and the rest of the Federal Open Market Committee laid out new guidance for when the central bank’s policymakers might start to raise key short-term interest rates. The FOMC statement released Wednesday specified that rates would be kept where they are “for a considerable time” after the Fed’s monthly bond-buying program ends, likely late this year. At her press conference, Yellen clarified what considerable means: “around six months.” - See more at:

WSJ | Majority of Fed Officials Still Expect First Interest-Rate Hike in 2015
Most Federal Reserve officials continue to project that their first increase in interest rates will come in 2015, amid modest changes in their outlook for the economy.
WSJ | Fed Statement Following March Meeting
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January indicates that growth in economic activity slowed during the winter months, in part reflecting adverse weather conditions.


CNN Money | Unlike 1960s, singles make up majority of tax filers
During the "Mad Men" era, married couples made up the majority of tax filers. But today -- thanks to demographics that include higher divorce rates -- singles file the most federal tax returns.
CNN Money | When do I stop paying Social Security taxes?
Any earnings greater than $117,000 are not subject to Social Security taxes.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CRS | The American Opportunity Tax Credit: Overview, Analysis, and Policy Options
The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)—enacted on a temporary basis by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA; P.L. 111-5) and extended through the end of 2017 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240; ATRA)—is a partially refundable tax credit that provides financial assistance to taxpayers who are attending college, or whose children are attending college.
NBER | One Fundamental and Two Taxes: When Does a Tobin Tax Reduce Financial Price Volatility?
We aim to make two contributions to the literature on the effects of transaction costs on financial price volatility.


FOX Business | U.S. Jobless Claims Rise Less Than Expected Last Week
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, pointing to some underlying strength in the labor market.
WSJ | Developed Country Wage Growth Picks Up
Pay in developed economies grew at a slightly faster pace during the fourth quarter of 2013, but at a rate that indicates a key source of inflationary pressure remains weak, according to figures released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | American Prosperity Stems From More, Full Time, Middle Class Jobs And Wages, Not From Higher Minimum Wages
Like all of President Obama’s ideas and enthusiasms, the minimum wage law is not a new idea. It was first adopted in 1938. It never has been the foundation of American prosperity, or even a good way to fight poverty. Indeed, it does more to increase poverty than reduce it.


Bloomberg | Treasury 10-to-30-Year Curve Narrowest Since 2010 on Fed Outlook
The difference between yields on 10- and 30-year U.S. Treasuries narrowed to the least since 2010 after the Federal Reserve indicated interest rates may rise faster than anticipated while the pace of growth is moderate.
WSJ | EU Governments Agree on Change to Structural Budget Balance Calculation
European Union governments have approved a change to how they calculate the "structural" government budget balance, an EU official said, a step benefiting countries such as Spain that have suffered large increases in unemployment during the crisis.
CNBC | Obama's budget bad for 401(k) savers
President Obama's proposed budget for 2015 would be a disaster for the millions of Americans who are underprepared for retirement. This plan would reduce the tax incentives for employers to offer retirement plans to their employees.