Wednesday, April 2, 2014

General Economics

FOX Business | U.S. Mortgage Applications Fell Last Week -MBA
Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week on lower refinancing demand, an industry group said on Wednesday.
Market Watch | Factory orders rise 1.6% in February
Orders for goods produced in U.S. factories rose 1.6 % in February, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area Economic Growth Revised Down to 0.2% in Fourth Quarter
The euro-area economy grew at a slower pace in the fourth quarter than initially estimated, providing further evidence for the European Central Bank assessment that the currency bloc’s recovery is still fragile.
WSJ | Apartment Rents Climb as Vacancies Drop
Apartment landlords continued to push through hefty rent increases at the start of the year, although the pace of the rises was slightly weaker.
WSJ | Oil Boomtown Williston, N.D., Looks for a Stable Future
This oil boomtown, known for its brawling roughnecks and their spare living conditions, is starting to smooth off its rough edges. But not all of them.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Ayn Rand Was Right About Unions: Workers Need Unequal Bargaining
The granddaddy of all their tricks, their one key sophistry, is the equation of economic power with political power. The power to produce is covertly lumped in with the power to destroy. The dollar is treated as a gun.
Fortune | Hold on to your hard hats: A capital spending boom may be coming
The most powerful tonic for the flagging U.S. economy would be a surge in capital investment. The willingness of manufacturers of semiconductors and chemicals to expand their fabs and factories, and airlines and utilities to order jets and build grids that will take many years, and a growing, prosperous base of customers, to render them profitable, would signal that a long, strong stretch of growth will follow.
Fortune | How to reform Ukraine's economy
The International Monetary Fund recently agreed to help the debt-stressed country with up to an $18 billion loan, but it can't do it alone.
AEI | Is the US economy unable to grow as fast as it used to? If so, maybe this is why
The American economy has grown by 3.3% annually, on average, since 1950. To break it down: real GDP grew by 3.6% in the 1950s, 4.3% in the 1960s, 3.2% in the 1970s, 3.3% in the 1980s, and 3.5% in the 1990s. Since 2000, however, things have slowed markedly. RGDP growth has averaged just 1.8% through 2013, 2.6% in the 2001-2006 period and 1.1% in the 2007-2103 period.
Heritage Foundation | The Financial Stability Oversight Council: Helping to Enshrine “Too Big to Fail”
History shows that more regulation does not inherently prevent financial panics and crises. Yet the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act essentially provides more of the same old financial regulation.

Fortune | BMW bets big on South Carolina
The German automaker is investing $1 billion in its factory in Spartanburg, and it will become BMW's biggest manufacturing facility.
Library of Economics | Nudging consumers and regulators
Today a new paper has been released, by the newly established Regulatory Conduct Authority (RCA). The RCA shall implement the same basic insights of behavioral economics, to the very field of regulation.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | ‘7 million’ not exactly an Obamacare milestone
Obamacare’s six-month enrollment period ended Monday, with the administration claiming Tuesday that more than 7 million people signed up. There are lots of reasons why its claims of success should be taken with a large grain of salt.
WSJ | ObamaCare's Hidden Hit On Businesses
President Obama's promise that Americans could keep their health insurance if they liked it was the most infamous of the Affordable Care Act's sketchy sales pitches. But many of the law's most damaging aspects are less known, buried in thousands of pages of regulations.


CNN Money | Banks under pressure over rising stress
Big financial firms are being forced to confront stress, anxiety and depression among their staff as banker suicides and premature deaths make headlines.
Market Watch | Bullard forecasts first rate hike in Q1 2015
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in an interview Wednesday that he expects the first rate hike to come in the first quarter of 2015, though he concedes that he's ahead of most of his colleagues.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Lagarde: 'Low-flation' is emerging risk to economy
"Low-flation," particularly in the euro area, is an emerging risk to advanced economies, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Wednesday.

WSJ | Global Central Banking in 2014, A First Quarter Update For 23 Economies
The world’s central banks have navigated different currents in the first quarter of 2014 and are preparing themselves for a variety of challenges in the months ahead. Developed economies such as the U.S., Europe and Japan are still struggling with slow growth and uncomfortably low inflation.


WSJ | Brazil Kicks Up Taxes on Beer, Soda Ahead of World Cup
The government said the increase, effective immediately, applies to beer, some juices, and energy and sports drinks. Dyogo Oliveira, a senior finance ministry official, said the tax increase had been postponed from October and would raise an estimated 200 million Brazilian reais ($85 million) this year to help bolster the government's finances. The tax is equal to around 1 cent an item, the government said.

WSJ | New House Budget Doesn’t Back Rep. Camp’s Tax Reform Plan
The Republican budget released on Tuesday repeats a longstanding GOP call for overhauling the tax code, but notably stops short of endorsing the plan that Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) set out in February. Mr. Camp isn’t running for re-election in November, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) is considered a strong candidate to succeed him.


CNN Money | Jobs: Slow recovery from winter lull
Private sector employers added 191,000 jobs in March, according to payroll processing firm ADP. While it was the strongest job growth in three months, it's not much to write home about.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus | Shift the Jobs Debate
Many congressional debates over how to improve the economy have centered on whether increased government spending will help create jobs. But in recent months the jobs debate is shifting toward something that could actually help: regulatory reform.

Market Watch | Just how high is the part-time unemployment rate compared to normal?
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said Monday that the number of part-time workers who would rather have full-time jobs is “much larger” than normal for an economy with a 6.7% unemployment rate.
WSJ | Orthodontists Earn More Than CEOs: 10 Facts About Wages
The average U.S. orthodontist earns $196,270. The average CEO makes $178,400. Those numbers, released Tuesday by the Labor Department, might come as a shock in some boardrooms. But they probably don’t catch parents of crooked-teeth teenagers off guard. Both positions counted among the nation’s ten best-paying occupations last year, according to a ranking of 821 jobs tracked by the government.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Ryan Priorities
Paul Ryan laid out his House budget outline on Tuesday, which is already more than Senate Democrats plan to do this year. Passing a budget is a core part of governing, and it's also an obligation under the 1974 Budget Act, but Democrats plan to cruise through the general election on December's budget deal and not let the voters in on their future plans for taxes and spending.
Investors | Ryan's Budget Exposes Democrats' Bankruptcy Of Ideas
Big Government: Whatever objections anyone might have to various details in Rep. Paul Ryan's bold new plan to cut $5 trillion of government waste, one fact trumps all else: Unlike Democrats, he offers solutions, not denial.
Politico | Ryan's Path to Austerity
When describing his last year’s budget to an interviewer who suggested it was highly unlikely to become law, Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, agreed, and actually went pretty metaphysical, D.C.-style: “But what is a budget? A budget is our vision for how we should fix this country’s fiscal problems.”

WSJ | Some Americans Paid Off Credit Cards While Waiting for Foreclosure
The sheer number of foreclosures during the recession may have helped some Americans pay off other debts, such as credit-card bills.
Heritage Foundation | Battle of the Budgets: Ryan Vs. Obama
Yesterday, Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) released his budget plan for the next decade. As the Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), is refusing to do a budget of its own, we’ve decided to use President Obama’s budget vision for a comparison instead.
CATO | Chairman Ryan’s Budget: A Mixed Bag of Reforms
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released his budget proposal yesterday, his last as committee chairman. This budget differs greatly from the budget request submitted by President Obama last month. Ryan would “cut” federal spending by $5.1 trillion over the next 10 years and calls upon Congress to pass pro-growth tax reform.