Friday, March 28, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Consumer Spending in U.S. Increases by Most in Three Months
Consumer spending in the U.S. rose in February by the most in three months as incomes increased, a sign that economic momentum was returning as Americans recovered from an unusually harsh winter.
FOX Business | Consumer Sentiment Ticks Higher in Late March
U.S. consumer sentiment fell in March as consumers were less hopeful about the prospects for the overall economy, a survey released on Friday showed.
CNN Money | Russia looks to Asia for trade cushion
As the United States and Europe threaten Russia with trade sanctions, Moscow is looking east to Asian countries that might act as an economic bulwark.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area Economic Confidence Increases More Than Expected
Euro-area economic confidence increased more than analysts forecast in March, easing pressure on the European Central Bank to take action next week to counter low inflation and spur growth.
WSJ | Firms' Profits Rise to Record High, Outpacing GDP Growth
U.S. corporate profits hit new highs last year, driven by the tight lid firms have kept on hiring and spending almost five years into the economic recovery.
Washington Times | More red tape: Obama imposes new greenhouse gas regulations
The White House announced plans Friday to impose more regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including tighter rules on the coal and natural gas industries.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Income-Inequality Whiners Are Today's Neo-Marxists
In testimony to Congress, Dr. Jared Bernstein was asked by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) whether he was generally disposed to favor the statement, "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Dr. Bernstein answered, apparently in earnest, that he viewed the statement "generally favorably."
WSJ | The Wrong Remedy for Fannie and Freddie
More than five years after a mortgage mania led to a global financial crisis rivaling the Great Depression, Washington is finally turning to home-loan finance reform.
Heritage Foundation | Red Tape Rising: Five Years of Regulatory Expansion
The Obama Administration is aggressively exploiting regulation to achieve its policy agenda, issuing 157 new major rules at a cost to Americans approaching $73 billion annually.

CATO | Could Vice President Biden Help Save the Administration’s Trade Agenda?
Francisco Sanchez, former undersecretary of Commerce for international trade in President Obama’s first term, commented on the administration’s trade efforts in a March 21 article in Politico.  His view is that the president will need to get directly involved in making the case for liberalization if he wants his trade agenda to succeed. 
Heritage Foundation | Cruz’s Energy Bill a Win for Economy, Taxpayers, and Free Markets
Over the past few years, energy production has been one of the bright spots in the American economy. The U. S. is now the world’s largest natural gas producer and will soon be the world’s largest oil producer. Senator Ted Cruz’s (R–Texas) American Energy Renaissance Act, along with its companion bill introduced in the House by Representative Jim Bridenstine (R–Okla.), will help this sector shine even brighter.

Health Care

Politico | The Obamacare report card
After six months, the first enrollment season is coming to an end. So it’s time to take stock, with POLITICO’s report card that covers the highs and lows of the rollout.
National Journal | Obamacare Premiums a Guessing Game—Again
Whether Obamacare premiums will increase next year—and by how much—will once again come down to good-old guesswork on the part of insurance companies.
CNN Money | Obamacare tops 6 million signups
More than 6 million people have signed up for Obamacare, as a crush of people raced to get health insurance before the March 31 deadline.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fiscal Times | Hospitals Plot the End of Insurance Companies
The problems with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act may be masking another major change in the way health care is delivered to U.S. consumers, experts believe. - See more at:


Bloomberg | Fed’s Evans Sees Rate Increase in Second Half of 2015
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said the central bank will probably raise interest rates in the second half of next year and the timing will depend on the pace of inflation.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Fed of 1970s Shows Capacity May Mislead: Cutting Research
The decision of central banks to focus more on economic slack as a barometer of when inflation will become a problem could backfire, if history is any guide.
Real Clear Markets | The Fed, Not the Reserve Primary Fund, 'Broke the Buck'
Since their inception in the 1970s, money market funds (MMFs) have been a highly successful financial innovation. Before the financial crisis, MMFs held approximately $3.6 trillion in assets; today, they are somewhat smaller, with about $2.9 trillion under management.
Fortune | The absurd way the U.S. measures inflation: Your rent
One-third of the U.S. consumer price index is based on a highly subjective question: How much can you rent your home for?

WSJ | Inflation Slows Again, Bouncing Around Four-Year Low
The Commerce Department’s latest read of consumer prices on Friday showed price pressures moving in a direction many Federal Reserve officials find uncomfortable. The personal consumption expenditures price index — the central bank’s preferred inflation gauge — slowed to an annual gain of less than 1%.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Japan steps off the tax cliff Tuesday — Can it survive?
It was the mid-1990s. Japan had gone from a rising economic superpower to a nation in decline, mired in what would be known as “The Lost Decade.”
CRS | The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC or EIC) began in 1975 as a temporary program to return a portion of the Social Security tax paid by lower-income taxpayers (the credit was, and remains, calculated as a percentage of earned income, with no direct link to Social Security taxes paid by the tax filer), and was made permanent in 1978.


Market Watch | Obamacare a bigger issue than minimum wage?
On Jan. 31, a fry cook asked President Obama why his hours were being cut to part time because of Obamacare, and the President responded by saying he was pushing to raise the minimum wage.

WSJ | Expect Surge in Temp Jobs to Continue
The surge in contract and “temp” jobs since the recession ended is likely to continue, a range of experts have said, in part because of slack in the labor market and decisions by many corporations to maximize flexibility in their work force.


National Journal | Why It Sucks to Be CBO
In 2002, Republican Rep. Jim Nussle, head of the House Budget Committee, was upset about the way the Congressional Budget Office had changed its score of a farm bill. At a closed-door meeting of the GOP leadership, he left no doubt about how he felt. "The CBO sucks, and you can quote me on that," he told the group, according to Fox News.
CNBC | $1 trillion student loan debt widens US wealth gap
Every month that Gregory Zbylut pays $1,300 toward his law school loans is another month of not qualifying for a decent mortgage.