Monday, March 31, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | Russia fallout pushes Europe to develop shale gas
Europe, seeking to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas, is encouraging political leaders to step up efforts to tap the region's shale gas deposits.
Bloomberg | Millennials Mired in Wealth Gap as Older Americans Gain
The damage inflicted on U.S. households by the collapse of the housing market and recession wasn’t evenly distributed. Just ask Jason and Jessica Alinen.
Market Watch | Chicago business gauge falls to 55.9 in March
A gauge of Chicago-area businesses tumbled in March, hitting the lowest level since August, led by drops for new orders and employment, according to data released Monday.
WSJ | Consumer Sluggishness Seems to Be Growth Drag, for Now
A deceleration in consumer spending in recent months helped knock down estimates for U.S. growth in the first quarter, deferring hopes for a sustained pickup in the economy.
CNBC | Relax—gas prices aren’t likely to stay high long
Gasoline prices have clocked a 7 percent jump over the past six weeks but chin up drivers: The national average is expected to start hitting the brakes in the next few weeks and stay low even during summer driving season.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Days of Dynamic Growth May Be Over
You might compare the U.S. economy to someone who's recovering from a serious illness. At first, everyone hopes the patient will return to normal. Then it's gradually realized that the patient suffered permanent damage and will never be the same.
WSJ | Raiding Fannie and Freddie
Memories of a painful experience can be short, especially in Washington where most of the pain is inflicted on taxpayers. So perhaps it's no surprise that the same "affordable housing" crowd that misallocated hundreds of billions of dollars into real estate is once again urging more taxpayer subsidies for housing.
Washington Times | Fuzzy numbers obscure a stagnant Obama economy
The news media were ecstatic when the government said in January that the economy grew by 3.2 percent in the final three months of 2013. It was convincing proof, they said on the nightly news, that the economy had finally recovered from its chronic lethargy.
CRS | Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund: Background and Solvency Issues
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides benefits to insured workers with disabilities under Social Security's full retirement age and their dependents based on an individual worker's earnings and work history in covered employment.
NBER | Commodity-Price Comovement and Global Economic Activity
Guided by the predictions of a general-equilibrium macroeconomic model with commodity prices, we apply a new factor-based identification strategy to decompose the historical sources of changes in commodity prices and global economic activity.

Heritage Foundation | It's Time To End Welfare for Big Business
Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will release his House Republican budget next week, and one of its themes will be the fight against corporate welfare. Mr. Ryan says, “We can’t make the case to the American people that we are the reform party if we won’t reform the giant corporate-welfare state in Washington.” Bravo. Too bad so few of his colleagues agree with him.

Health Care

National Journal | Obamacare Survives, Now Can It Be Fixed?
President Obama and his team deserve credit for pulling Obamacare from the brink of disaster. Whether it lives to die another day depends on the answer to these and other questions.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | Obamacare Isn’t about Health, It’s about Wealth Redistribution
The Hobby Lobby case now before the Supreme Court will test whether private, for-profit corporations, acting through their owners, can claim a religious exemption from ObamaCare’s mandate to cover contraception as part of employee health insurance.


FOX Business | Fed's George Wants End to Zero Rates, Doesn't Give Date
A top Federal Reserve official who has often warned of the risks of keeping U.S. interest rates too low for too long said on Friday she wants to see how winding down the Fed's massive bond-buying stimulus goes before setting out any path for rate hikes.
CNN Money | Deflation risk raises head again in Europe
Price pressures in the eurozone continued their four-month slide in March, sparking renewed talk about the risk of deflation and central bank action to spur the economy.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | U.S. too-big-to-fail subsidy as high as $70 billion, IMF says
The too-big-to-fail subsidy that banks implicitly enjoy was worth up to $70 billion in the U.S. and $300 billion in the euro area in 2012, the International Monetary Fund said Monday.
WSJ | What Europe Can Learn From the U.S. Bank Crisis
Against a backdrop of stagnant euro-zone economic output and declining inflation, expected to fall below 0.6% for this month, European Central Bank officials signaled on March 25 that they were willing to take far more aggressive action to drive down borrowing rates for private business.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Rand Paul's hopes for a flat tax
The blunt-spoken, Libertarian-leaning senator from Kentucky, who won the 2016 presidential straw poll among leading conservatives, favors a flat tax: a one-rate income tax system with a minimum of tax breaks for individuals and businesses.
WSJ | Japan's Sales-Tax Boost Will Test Abenomics
The tax increase is designed to pay for Japan's ballooning social-welfare costs and to pare its huge public debt, which, at more than twice the size of the economy, is the largest among rich nations. But it comes at an inopportune moment for Tokyo, which hopes Japan's cautious consumers continue to spend after more than 15 years of debilitating deflation.
CRS | Expired and Expiring Temporary Tax Provisions ("Tax Extenders")
Dozens of temporary tax provisions expired at the end of 2013. Most of the provisions that expired at the end of 2013 have been part of past temporary tax extension legislation. Most recently, many temporary tax provisions were extended as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act


FOX News | Unemployment rates fell in 29 US states in February as hiring picks up
Unemployment rates fell in most states in February and two-thirds of the states reported job gains, evidence that most of the country is benefiting from slow but steady improvement in the job market.
CNN Money | Janet Yellen wants you to get a raise
Those are the words of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who said Monday that the central bank's goal "is to help Main Street, not Wall Street." And she hopes to do that primarily by boosting the job market.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Obama's Minimum Wage Beliefs Are As False As Can Be
President Obama would like everyone to believe that raising the minimum wage will help those in poverty, will cause no drop in employment, and will probably even boost the economy. Unfortunately, these beliefs are as false as can be and come from a fundamental misunderstanding of the very Keynesian economics he professes to follow.
FOX Business | States that Raise the Wage See Decreased Jobs, High Teen Unemployment
As a part of his promised year of action, President Obama has continued to push for a hike in the federal minimum wage nationwide. But a new report shows raising the wage could have a negative impact on the still-recovering labor market.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Biggest ETF Flow From U.S. Debt Since ’10 on Growth Optimism
Investors of exchange-traded funds that buy U.S. government debt are signaling confidence that economic growth is taking root.

Heritage Foundation | Printing Money: Adopt a New Typeface and Save $136 Million in the Federal Budget
The federal government can make a decision that would save taxpayers millions of dollars, and it wouldn’t have to cut programs, furlough workers, or even reduce duplicative spending: All it has to do is adopt a new uniform typeface to be used in all government documents.