Thursday, April 24, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Consumer Comfort in U.S. Climbs to Highest Level in Eight Months
Consumer confidence rose last week to its highest level since August as Americans were more upbeat about being able to provide for their families than at any time in six years.
CNN Money | Obama fails to secure breakthrough in Japan trade talks
The unwieldy trade pact is a major priority for the Obama administration, but progress has stalled after 20 rounds of negotiations spread over a period of years have failed to produce a consensus.
Bloomberg | Orders for Durable Goods Poured Into U.S. Factories in March
Orders for durable goods poured into American factories in March, setting up manufacturing as one of the central drivers of a rebound in economic growth during the second quarter.
Market Watch | 30-year-mortgage rate rises to 4.33%
The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.33% in the week that ended April 24 from 4.27% in the prior week, according to a Thursday report from federally controlled mortgage-buyer Freddie Mac

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Protectionists blocking trade with Asia
The White House had hoped to use the president’s visit to Tokyo this week to announce a breakthrough in trade talks, as Mr. Obama embarks on a four-nation tour of Asia. Now it appears that won’t happen. “A stalemate continues,” said Japanese economics minister Akira Amari, according to Reuters.
WSJ | Telling Students to Earn Less
The federal student loan program is becoming so costly to taxpayers that even President Obama is pretending to fix it. Readers will recall Mr. Obama as the man who has spent much of his Presidency expanding this program, creating new ways for borrowers to avoid repayment, and then campaigning about these dubious achievements on campuses nationwide.
Investors | The Left's Advice Would Bring A Second Great Depression
One oddity of the current economic debate is that the more Barack Obama's incompetent income-redistribution policies have failed, the more the left calls for more government-intervention policies to correct for the deficiencies of the earlier rounds.
Mercatus | An Analysis of Global HFT Regulation: Motivations, Market Failures, and Alternative Outcomes
Recent market events like the “flash crash” of 2010, algorithmic failures at Knight Capital, and the release of Michael Lewis’s book Flash Boys (2014)—with his claims that markets are “rigged”—have heightened scrutiny of high-frequency trading (HFT) and increased demands for more aggressive regulation. However, HFT has several empirically demonstrated benefits, and the current, largely qualitative arguments against it call for careful scrutiny of proposed regulations.
AEI | A new housing bubble?
Even though the recent financial crisis is barely in the rearview mirror, risk is starting to build once again in both the U.S. mortgage and housing markets.

WSJ | World Trade Weakens in Early 2014
Each month, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis–also known as the CPB–aggregates measures of imports and exports for 96 countries around the world, plus sub-Saharan Africa. It provides the most up-to-date measure of trade flows available, which has a close correlation with global economic growth.
Library of Economics | There's only one sensible way to measure economic inequality
Consumption is the bedrock upon which essentially all of economics is built. We assume that all economic activity is aimed at creating consumption (defined broadly to include the value of leisure time, and non-market factors such as clean air.) Of course one could raise objections to this view, but as we'll see if you don't at least start with consumption, you are likely to reach absurd conclusions.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The ObamaCare Jobless
A new survey demonstrates the Affordable Care Act's negative impact on employment. According to the Journal, "nearly half of small-business owners with at least five employees, or 45% of those polled, said they had had to curb their hiring plans because of the health law, and almost a third—29%—said they had been forced to make staff cuts, according to a U.S. Bancorp survey of 3,173 owners with less than $10 million in annual revenue that will be released Thursday."


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg View | The Economic Monster Called Deflation
Why is deflation so troubling to central bankers? First, with chronic deflation, debts rise in real terms. Their nominal value remains fixed, yet nominal incomes and profits -- the wherewithal to service those debts -- tend to fall. So bankruptcies leap, and lending, the driver of much economic growth, atrophies.

WSJ | Fed Reverse Repos Again See Demand Surge As Treasury Navigates Tax Time
A shortage of Treasury securities is driving very strong demand for a tool the Federal Reserve is testing in hopes that it may one day give the central bank better control over short-term interest rates.


Heritage Foundation | More Than 2,800 IRS Workers With Conduct Issues Received Performance Awards
As the Internal Revenue Service grapples with budget cuts, a newly reported audit reveals the federal tax collection agency doled out bonuses and other rewards to more than 2,800 workers who had conduct and tax-evasion issues.


National Journal | Want to Find a Job Online? Here’s Where to Look.
Of the 3.7 million jobs that open each month, 2.7 million of them are posted online, according to the study. If you have a bachelor's degree, 80 percent of the job openings for your level are posted online. For people with a lower education level, fewer than 50 percent of those job listings are online.
Bloomberg | Jobless Claims Rise More Than Forecast in U.S. Holiday Week
More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week as the Easter holiday period made it more difficult to adjust the data for seasonal variations.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Management Today | Wealthy, educated and working all hours: the rise of the 'super' working class
Keynes once predicted that the 21st century working week would consist of just 15 hours, as rising wages and living standards would allow people to work fewer hours and enjoy more leisure time.
Washington Times | The federal job-training boondoggle
No problem is so insurmountable that it can’t be solved with a government program. If the program doesn’t work, the government has a remedy for that, too — another government program. This strikes the average American as bunk, but it’s how this White House sees the world.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | What The Ryan/Republican Budget Teaches Us
When House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled his latest budget proposal earlier this month, political commentator/consultant Dick Morris warned Republicans against it, arguing that passing it would cause them to lose control of the House of Representatives to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in this November’s elections.