Wednesday, April 23, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | WTI Gains as Cushing Inventories Slip to Four-Year Low
West Texas Intermediate crude gained as supplies dwindled at Cushing, Oklahoma, even as U.S. total inventories reached the highest level in more than 80 years. Brent slipped.
Market Watch | U.S. flash Markit PMI slips to 55.4 in April
The initial or "flash" Markit PMI for the United States fell slightly to 55.4 in April from 55.5 in March.
Bloomberg | Housing Rebound in U.S. Losing Steam as Prices Rise
Sales dropped a surprising 14.5 percent to a 384,000 annualized pace, lower than any forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg and the weakest since July, Commerce Department data showed today in Washington. Three of the four regions saw setbacks, with demand in the West slumping to the lowest level in more than two years.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | The high cost of liberalism, open spaces and affordable housing
Liberals advocate many wonderful things. In fact, I suspect that most conservatives would prefer to live in the kind of world envisioned by liberals, rather than in the kind of world envisioned by conservatives.
WSJ | At Last, a Better Economic Measure
Starting April 25, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will release a new way to measure the economy each quarter. It's called gross output, and it's the first significant macroeconomic tool to come into regular use since gross domestic product was developed in the 1940s.
Fortune | Is capitalism driving itself out of business?
In his latest book, Jeremy Rifkin argues that the private market's drive for productivity has brought us closer to a world in which the marginal cost to produce just about everything will inch closer and closer to zero.
Real Clear Markets | A Bad Report Card For a Security-Righteous SEC
Last week, the Government Accountability Office issued a report on information security lapses at the Securities and Exchange Commission. The report, an elaboration on problems identified in GAO's December 2013 audit report, warned that these problems created risks to "the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of a key financial system" at the SEC.

WSJ | Why Credit Is Key for the Housing Recovery
An analysis from economists at Goldman Sachs shows how the degree to which mortgage lending standards ease over the next few years could make for a big difference in home sales volumes.
CATO | Gas Prices Are Pinching Again, and You Can Thank U.S. Trade Policy For Some of the Pain
The summer driving season is still weeks away, but rising U.S. gas prices are already back in the news.  Last week, the average price for regular gasoline at U.S. gas stations hit $3.6918 a gallon – the highest since March 22, 2013 and up 43 cents this year.  Much of this price depends on global supply and demand, but certainly not all of it.  In fact, two archaic, little-known U.S. policies – vigorously defended by the well-connected interest groups who benefit from them – restrict free trade in petroleum products and, as a result, force American consumers to pay considerably more at the pump.

Health Care

National Journal | Seven in 10 Favor Mandated Contraception Coverage
While the justices of the Supreme Court have not yet decided whether businesses have to provide contraception coverage to employees, the American people have—and they are for it.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | Health Care in a Multipayer System: The Effects of Health Care Service Demand among Adults under 65 on Utilization and Outcomes in Medicare
Doctors and hospitals in the United States serve patients covered by many types of insurance. This overlap in the supply of health care services means that changes in the prices paid or the volume of services demanded by one group of patients may affect other patient groups.


WSJ | Fed Looks Likely to Stick to Policy Path
"While monetary-policy discussions naturally begin with a baseline outlook, the path of the economy is uncertain, and effective policy must respond to significant unexpected twists and turns the economy may take," Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in a speech at the Economic Club of New York last week, her last comments before the central bank's one-week quiet period ahead of its April 29-30 policy meeting.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | What’s that fishy smell? The Fed’s corrupt policies
How else can one describe a regime that punishes savers and rewards borrowers and speculators for years on end? Our central bank is essentially taking billions of dollars a year from average Americans, who are still struggling to get by in a bombed-out economy, and it is giving it — yes, giving it — to the very banks that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis in the first place.
Heritage Foundation | Basel III Capital Standards Do Not Reduce the Too-Big-to-Fail Problem
Many experts recognize that the government will still step in to support some financial institutions rather than allow them to go through bankruptcy. Dodd–Frank has worsened this too-big-to-fail problem by expanding the capital requirements that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

WSJ | To Gauge Jobs Progress, Fed Should Focus on Wages: Former BOE Officials
Falling U.S. labor force participation reflects a weak economic recovery rather than more intractable structural factors such as skill mismatches and demographic shifts, argue Danny Blanchflower, now a professor at Dartmouth University, and Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, in a draft paper.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Piketty and Krugman Admit the Laffer Curve Is Real
Liberal and conservative economists disagree sharply over the extent to which a lower marginal tax rate motivates talented workers to take the risks and suffer the consequences necessary to earn more money. The strongly held belief that higher tax rates do not create significant disincentive for risk-taking is central to the liberal argument. Imagine the shock, then, when two pillars of liberal economics-Paul Krugman and Paris School of Economics professor Thomas Piketty-conceded that a lower U.S. marginal tax rates had a profound effect on the economy precisely through its motivational effects on the most productive workers.


FOX News | Labor Department: Job market improved for 2013 college grads but remained weak
The Labor Department reports that the unemployment rate for 2013 college graduates — defined as those ages 20 to 29 who earned a four-year or advanced degree — was 10.9 percent. That was down from 13.3 percent in 2012 and was the lowest rate since 7.7 percent in 2007.
FOX Business | Where the Jobs Are: Health Care
“There are many, many jobs in health care,” says Janet Elkin, chief executive of staffing firm Supplemental Healthcare. “More people are being insured. Right now, there’s 7 million and counting [enrolled on state and federal health insurance exchanges]. A safe estimate is that at some point there will be 30 million insured.”
CNN Money | Many low-wage workers not protected by minimum wage
President Obama's push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, coupled with recent state-level increases, is welcome news for many people getting by on small paychecks.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Obamacare: One more reason to quit your job
The Obama administration has delayed the employer half of that equation more than once. But for many near-retirees and budding entrepreneurs, the second part may prove to be more important: Obamacare means you don't have to depend on your boss for coverage.

WSJ | College Enrollment Continues Post-Recession Decline
Nearly 3 million people between ages 16 and 24 graduated from high school between January and October last year, the report found. Of that group, 1.96 million – 65.9% — were enrolled in college in October. That was the lowest rate in a decade and was down from 66.2% the prior year, the agency said.


Bloomberg | Most U.S. States See Budget Balances Improve in 2014, S&P Says
More than half of U.S. states have larger 2014 general-fund balances than anticipated at the start of the year because of the strengthening economy, according to Standard & Poor’s.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | It's official: Austerity drives down Europe's deficits
Net borrowing by the 18 governments sharing the euro totaled almost €293 billion ($404 billion) in 2013, €59 billion less than the previous year. That was right in line with the limit of 3% of GDP set in European Union laws designed to underpin the currency.