Tuesday, April 8, 2014

General Economics

FOX News | More Americans feel they're slipping from middle class after harsh recession and slow recovery
A sense of belonging to the middle class occupies a cherished place in America. It conjures images of self-sufficient people with stable jobs and pleasant homes working toward prosperity.
CNN Money | Where the rich stash their toys
The rich are on the hunt for secure, tax-free places to stash their fine art and luxury items, fueling a surge in demand for top-end warehouses known as freeports.
FOX Business | IMF Trims Global Growth Outlook Amid Emerging-Market Risks
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday trimmed its forecast for global growth for the year, citing continued weakness in the economies of emerging markets and threats from global conflicts.
CNN Money | Time for market panic? Depends who you ask...
Gary Flam, a portfolio manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors, had the lowest target for the S&P 500 among the 26 investment professionals in CNNMoney's survey. He expects the index to end 2014 at 1,700, which would translate to a drop of 8% compared with 2013.
Market Watch | Small-business optimism sees small recovery in March
A measure of small-business optimism improved in March but still didn't surpass January levels, a trade group said Tuesday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNBC | Here's why a momentum bounce could be looming
Watch for a dead cat bounce in some of the former high-flying Internet and biotech names, but any rebound may be short-lived.
AEI | Plan C: A simple fix for Fannie and Freddie
Everybody talks about fixing the problem of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but it is hard to make anything actually happen.  Current legislative grand plans for housing finance restructuring are complex, full of untried ideas, and seem unlikely to be enacted.
Heritage Foundation | The “Heat and Eat” Food Stamp Loophole and the Outdated Cost Projections for Farm Programs
In February, Congress passed a new farm bill that lacked meaningful and necessary reform. Making matters worse, Congress made critical mistakes that will have a major impact on both food stamps and farm programs.

Heritage Foundation | This Legislation Would Let Government Take Over U.S. Mortgage Market
In 2009, Congress used nearly $200 billion to bail out the housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These companies are still operating under the direct control of the federal government, and taxpayers are underwriting an even larger share of mortgages now than in 2008. Even worse, the U.S. Senate is poised give us Fannie–Freddie 2.0 in the new housing reform bill that Senators Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) and Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) have released.

Health Care

Politico | Obamacare's next obstacle: Confusion as people use it
Obama administration officials hoping to exhale after the big finish to Obamacare’s first enrollment season may need to hold their breath a while longer.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
National Journal | Administration Backs Down on Medicare Cuts
The federal agency that runs Medicare has reversed at least some proposed cuts to private Medicare Advantage plans—the second time in two years that insurers have persuaded the agency to abandon cuts.
Mercatus | The Economics of Medicaid: Assessing the Costs and Consequences
Under the Affordable Care Act, the Congressional Budget Office projects Medicaid enrollment to increase nearly 30 percent by 2024, and federal spending on the program to double over the next decade. For the states, Medicaid is already the largest single budget item, and its rapid growth threatens to further crowd out other spending priorities.
Mercatus | Expanding Medicaid Is a Step Backwards
As a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist in California, I have long been concerned with the failings of programs intended to help women in need access quality health care. I am increasingly concerned that the expansion of Medicaid through the new health care law, known as Obamacare, will exacerbate the system’s existing problems, and make it even more difficult to obtain medical care at reasonable rates as the strain on the program grows.

Heritage Foundation | Sen. Ron Johnson: Lawmakers Should Not Get Special Treatment Under Obamacare
Sen. Ron Johnson (R–Wis.) today acknowledged that his lawsuit against the federal government—filed to prevent special Obamacare-related handouts to members of Congress—faces an uphill battle. Despite the long odds, however, Senator Johnson reiterated his commitment to push the case.


FOX News | Fed gives banks 2 more years to ensure holdings of risky securities fit Volcker Rule
The Federal Reserve is giving U.S. banks two more years to ensure their holdings of certain complex and risky securities don't put them afoul of the new Volcker Rule.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area Inflation Outlook Rises as ECB Mulls Stimulus
Euro-area inflation expectations are increasing as investors bet the European Central Bank will stoke prices, which rose last month at the slowest pace since 2009.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Why do we still use paper money?
When given a choice, people find credit cards, debit cards and bank account electronic payments more convenient than cash. In many parts of the world, payments can be made from cellphone to cellphone, with the phone companies serving many of the functions of traditional banks. Money can be stored and transmitted from and to almost any form of computer.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | Income taxes: One thing to not get outraged over
The approach of tax day reliably cranks up the volume of chatter about America's screwed-up tax system, inevitably featuring outraged recollections of something about Mitt Romney paying only a 15% rate, and Warren Buffett saying his cleaning lady pays tax at a higher rate than he does.


CNN Money | Maryland raises minimum wage to $10.10
The state legislature on Monday approved a bill that raises the wage floor from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2018, and Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to sign it into law.
WSJ | Big Demand for Skilled-Worker Visas
A U.S. visa program for foreign skilled workers has attracted more applications than there are visas available, triggering a lottery for their allotment and suggesting employers feel optimistic about the country's economy.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | To Boost the Economy, Let the Unemployment Bill Die
The House of Representatives has the opportunity to stall the economic recovery by following the Senate and passing an extension of unemployment insurance benefits. Or, the House could help the economy by just letting the bill die.
WSJ | The '77 Cents on the Dollar' Myth About Women's Pay
April 8 is "Equal Pay Day," an annual event to raise awareness regarding the so-called gender wage gap. As President Obama said in the State of the Union address, women "still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns," a claim echoed by the National Committee on Pay Equity, the American Association of University Women and other progressive groups.
WSJ | Temp Jobs Surge as Firms Contain Expenses
The "short-term" staffing industry is enjoying a long-term boom, with temps accounting for more than one-tenth of all job growth since 2009, according to government data.

WSJ | A Basket of Labor Data Suggests Job Gains Will Continue
The Conference Board’s employment trend index increased in March for the third consecutive month. Now back to 117.52, the index is up 5.1% above its year-ago reading and has re-captured almost all of the ground lost during the last recession.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | GOP confident about Paul Ryan’s budget
House Republican leaders said they believe they turned a corner by the end of last week, quashing opposition to the Wisconsin Republican’s 2015 budget proposal and laying the groundwork to clear one of the last major pieces of legislation before the midterm election.
CBO | Monthly Budget Review for March 2014
The federal government ran a budget deficit of $413 billion for the first six months of fiscal year 2014, CBO estimates—$187 billion less than the shortfall recorded in the same span last year. Revenues were about 10 percent higher; and outlays, about 4 percent lower.

WSJ | Foreign Investors Selling out of Japanese Debt
That’s essentially the message from overseas investors, who sold a net Y351 billion ($3.4 billion) of Japanese government bonds and other types of debt in March, data out Tuesday showed. That means a net sale of Y2.5 trillion for the fiscal year just ended, the first such net selling in four years.
WSJ | Americans Owed Less on Their Credit Cards in February
Total outstanding consumer credit across the economy rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.4% in February to more than $3.129 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Monday.
CATO | 50 Years of Federal Spending
Fifty years ago, one of the biggest-spending presidents in U.S. history was settling into office after coming to power the prior November. Lyndon Johnson signed into law Medicare, Medicaid, and hundreds of subsidy programs for the states and cities.