Thursday, April 10, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | College savings gap widens between rich and poor
A growing divide is forming among college savers. While many middle and upper-class families are saving more for college, lower income families are still struggling to save anything at all.
CNN Money | It's the biggest week for IPOs in 8 years
It's the biggest week for initial public offerings since the end of 2006 with a whopping 16 companies scheduled to make their trading debut.
CNN Money | Young investors are hoarding cash
According to investment adviser UBS, people in their early to mid-thirties with at least $100,000 to invest keep 42% of their money in cash. UBS concludes young savers are unusually conservative.
Market Watch | 30-year-mortgage rate falls to 4.34%
The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.34% in the week that ended April 10 from 4.41% in the prior week, according to a Thursday report from federally controlled mortgage-buyer Freddie Mac

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Democrats Have the Bigger Inequality Problem
Quick: Which member of Congress represents a district that most embodies a liberal utopia? (Hint: Her name and the phrase “liberal utopia” have never been uttered in the same sentence.) Give up? It’s Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann, toast of the Tea Party.
Real Clear Markets | How the Feds Blind Us To Our Malaise
Though we seldom think of them this way, America's statistical agencies are the very eyes and ears of our democracy. When they are functioning properly, they provide essential information to help the public and its elected representatives see what is going right in our country-and what is going wrong. Such information is crucial for forming a more perfect union.
NBER | Second Liens and the Holdup Problem in Mortgage Renegotiation
Loss mitigation actions (e.g., liquidation or renegotiation) for delinquent mortgages might be hampered by the conflicting goals of claim holders with different levels of seniority.

WSJ | New Mortgage Lending at 14-Year Low
Mortgage originations in February fell to their lowest level in at least 14 years due to the months-long plunge in refinancing activity and weak demand for loans to purchase new homes.
Heritage Foundation | How Conservatives Can Fight Obama's Crony Economy
The American economy is the envy of the world, primarily because it is still seen as a place where anyone – regardless of who you are or where you come from – can work hard, play by the rules, and succeed.

Health Care

National Journal | The Psychological Toll of 12 Years of War
Twelve consecutive years of war have turned soldiers into the subjects of an unintended experiment in the impact of prolonged conflict on the human psyche.
National Journal | Obamacare's Medicaid Trap
The technology behind a huge part of Obamacare's efforts to expand insurance coverage—the part aimed at low-income Americans—remains far from fixed, and the glitches are keeping some of the nation's most vulnerable patients from getting insured.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Obamacare’s unfunny April Fools’ joke
President Obama nearly had me on April Fools’ Day. Pointing to Obamacare’s 7 million sign-ups, he said they were proof that the debate over the law is officially “over.” Thankfully, I saw Joe Biden’s reassuring smile in the background, which snapped me back to reality.


Bloomberg | Derivatives Rules Softened in Victory for Banks
In a victory for banks, global financial regulators revised rules governing how much money must be set aside to cover losses by swaps traders, backing away from guidelines that firms warned would destabilize the $693 trillion derivatives market.
WSJ | Fed Shows Growing Worry About Low Inflation
Federal Reserve officials are growing concerned the U.S. inflation rate won't budge from low levels, the latest sign of angst among central bankers about weakness in the global economy.
Market Watch | U.S. import prices rise 0.6% in March
The prices paid for imported goods increased 0.6% in March, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Treasury to sell Ally Financial shares at $25 each
The Treasury Department said it's going to sell its Ally Financial ALLY stake at $25 per share, which will raise $2.375 billion for the government.
Fortune | Jamie Dimon says Fed stimulus exit will be easy
In his annual letter to shareholders, which was released on Wednesday afternoon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) said there is "little question" that the Federal Reserve's signature stimulus program boosted the economy and hastened the recovery. What's more, he says the Fed's exit from QE, which is expected to happen this year, isn't likely to reverse that.

WSJ | Grand Central: Financial Stability Concerns Becoming Bigger Factor in Fed Debates
The Federal Reserve’s release of minutes from its March policy meeting showed how financial stability concerns are becoming an increasingly important factor in the Fed’s policy making debates.
WSJ | Fed Officials See Dwindling Risks and Uncertainty in Their Forecasts
Federal Reserve officials may not be very confident that they can send clear signals about the path of interest rates. What they are increasingly certain about is the path of the economy.


CNN Money | 18 million callers can't reach IRS for tax help
With the April 15 tax filing deadline around the corner, an estimated 18 million callers seeking help from the IRS won't be able to reach a real person this year. That's about 40% of all tax season callers, according to IRS data.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Only Corporate Tax 'Reform' Is Total Abolishment
The Peter G. Peterson foundation recently funded a study by Eric Toder of the Tax Policy Center and Alan Viard of he American Enterprise Institute on corporate tax reform. They conclude that congressional proposals now being debated fall short of solving the complex problems of worldwide taxes. They suggest that we either reach an international agreement on how to allocate income among countries, or abolish the tax and raise the revenue directly from the shareholders.
Real Clear Markets | Puerto Rico May Be the Next Big Bailout for U.S. Taxpayers
Although financial optimists are heralding the recent sale of $3.5 billion of bonds by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as the end of the financial crisis for the island and its inhabitants, a closer look demonstrates that the bond sale may, at best, be a small bandage on a large and hemorrhaging wound. Because of the uniqueness of Puerto Rico's status as a Commonwealth of United States, a financial default by Puerto Rico will be catastrophic in that it will almost mandate a bailout by the U.S. Government which will ultimately be borne by U.S. taxpayers.


FOX News | Equal pay debate: Women are doing fine – it’s men we should worry about
The Senate will likely consider and vote on The Paycheck Fairness Act this week or next. One has to wonder why.
Bloomberg | Jobless Claims in U.S. Drop to Lowest Level Since May 2007
The fewest number of Americans since before the last recession filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, pointing to more progress in the labor market.
Bloomberg | Family Dollar to Close 370 Stores, Cut Jobs
Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO), facing an increase in retail competition, is closing about 370 stores and conducting a review to improve its business.


FOX News | US consumer borrowing rose $16.5 billion, reflecting big gains in auto and student loans
Consumers increased their borrowing in February on autos and student loans by the largest amount in a year. But for a second straight month, they cut back on their credit card use.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | Collateralized loan obligations: Our next financial nightmare
Greed, stupidity, and slack government oversight fueled the mortgage bubble. The same thing seems to be happening today, but this time with leveraged loans and junk bonds.
Mercatus | The Secret Assumptions Behind Federal Budgets
Our national dialogue over federal policy suffers from a huge information gap when it comes to understanding the federal budget. This information gap afflicts not only the general public as well as press, but much of Washington’s policy insider community. From the very start of my eleven years as Senate staff, I quickly learned that if one can master Congress’s arcane budget rules, one will command knowledge that even many legislators lack. To put it bluntly, far too few people understand how the federal budget works, how budget-related legislative procedures work, and how scorekeeping works. This article represents an effort to fill in some of that information gap.

Heritage Foundation | The Surprisingly Simple Way That Congress Could Save Billions
That was the takeaway from the fourth annual report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office detailing unnecessary duplication in federal government programs. Yet, Congress has done little to bring budgetary common sense to Washington by either consolidating or eliminating the duplicative and wasteful programs—despite the fact that the federal government is over $17 trillion in debt, and Congress spends hundreds of billions on discretionary programs each year that are often redundant and ineffective.