Tuesday, May 6, 2014

General Economics

FOX News | Rent or buy? Economist explains why owning a home still beats renting
Whether to rent or buy a home is one of the toughest choices for young people these days. A recent Deutsche Bank study compared renting vs. the cost of owning a home in 54 cities. 
CNN Money | Summer drivers to get a break on gas
April was a bad month at the pump for drivers, but prices could be lower by the time summer driving season kicks off at the end of this month.
CNN Money | Office Depot to close at least 400 stores
Office Depot will close at least 400 U.S. stores, shedding more than 20% of the stores it now operates in the U.S. after its merger with rival OfficeMax.
Bloomberg | Growing Exports Shrink U.S. Trade Gap as Global Demand Stirs
The biggest gain in U.S. exports in nine months helped narrow the trade deficit in March, pointing to a revival of global demand that will help the world’s largest economy strengthen.
Market Watch | U.S. home prices climb 1.4% in March: CoreLogic
U.S. home prices grew 1.4% in March to take the year-over-year gain to 11.1%, CoreLogic said Tuesday.
CNBC | US economy: Blame misaligned policies, not structural flaws
Investors need not worry about naysayers' myriad structural flaws of American economy. Some of these problems do exist, most are fanciful, but none are currently responsible for America's Mediterranean style output gap.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | Housing still a weak investment, bond fund manager says
Your house is a terrible investment, and it's getting worse. Of course, that's good news for home shoppers. Prices are likely to fall from here.
Forbes | As The Obama Era Ages, Scapegoating Mounts
The greatest editorialist of our age, Joseph Rago of the Wall Street Journal, is at it again. Over the weekend, Rago profiled two investors in Philadelphia who are resisting government pressure to admit that they did something wrong when trading in the electricity marketplace. The investors’ case is that everything they did was transparently legal. The feds don’t care—if they apply pressure, they want a settlement.
Washington Times | Obama’s interstate highway-robbery scheme
The White House is far from done with the promised “fundamental transformation” of society. Secret courts issue general warrants enabling the government to listen to every telephone call and read every email. Drones take to the skies to monitor everyone below, and still the administration is not satisfied. President Obama’s transportation reauthorization bill, released last week, would demolish one of the greatest American accomplishments of the 20th century in a way that will create one more opportunity to spy.
Fortune | What public pensions should (and shouldn't) disclose about their private equity investments
America's public pension systems invest billions of dollars into private equity and venture capital funds each year, typically disclosing such commitments during open board meetings. After that, however, the veil of secrecy begins to descend. In most cases, public pensions never disclose how each fund performs, instead reporting only aggregate portfolio returns.
Mercatus | While Regulatory Spending and Output Increase, Economic Analysis of Regulations is Often Incomplete
Federal regulatory agencies consume enormous amounts of time and resources in producing approximately 3,000 final regulations each year. Agencies have seen sizable increases in their budgets in the last several years, as they have added thousands of new rules and requirements to the books. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that these increases have not necessarily meant resources have been used well.

WSJ | U.S. Trade With Russia Grows in March Despite Ukraine Crisis
Rising U.S.-Russian tensions over the continued disorder in Ukraine didn’t derail trade between the two Cold War rivals in March, the same month Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.
Library of Economics | The economy should be "left alone to sort things out" during a recession
Broadly speaking, there are three approaches to stabilization policies and business cycles

Health Care

WSJ | Massachusetts Scraps Its Health Insurance Exchange
Massachusetts health officials said Monday they are scrapping the state's problem-plagued insurance exchange in favor of a private company's version used in other states, while considering connecting to the federal site as a backup.


Market Watch | Banks keeping mortgage standards tight
Banks are not making it easier for potential home buyers, a Federal Reserve senior loan officer survey released Monday showed.
WSJ | U.S. Banks Expect Credit-Card Lending to Return to Healthier Growth Rates
U.S. banks expect credit-card lending to return to healthier growth rates this year, according to a new Federal Reserve survey that showed credit conditions in key areas of the economy shaking off the recession's aftershocks.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Feds Target Money Managers
Don't look now, but federal regulators are poised to take the worst features of the U.S. banking system and impose them on large managers of mutual funds. The result is likely to be more risk for taxpayers and more costs for investors.


Bloomberg | Tax-Cut Promises Meet Reality as State Tax Growth Flags
Bold talk of cutting state income taxes is becoming muted as U.S. governors and legislatures face the reality that they can’t afford to keep their promises, even in an improving economy.
Bloomberg | Credit Suisse Said Near U.S. Tax Deal for Over $1 Billion
Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) is close to resolving a U.S. tax-evasion probe with an agreement that might include a penalty of more than $1 billion, after creating a separate entity last year to house the businesses involved.
WSJ | Hollande Promises to Turn Around French Economy With Tax Cuts
French President Fran├žois Hollande said Tuesday he will forge ahead with his plans to cut public spending and grant tax breaks to business, acknowledging French people are angry after he failed to deliver on pledges to turn around the economy.


CNN Money | Companies ramp up fight against $10.10 wage
A new commercial went up on cable news channels last week from the Employment Policies Institute, a group backed by the restaurant industry and business groups, featuring a fortune teller who predicts job losses from a minimum wage increase.
USA Today | Unemployment a crisis for youth
Youth unemployment is one such problem. Young people face higher hurdles to and in the job market. They have fewer skills, less work experience and smaller networks.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Then There's the Real Minimum Wage: Zero
Amid all the national discussion about raising the minimum wage, it's easy to forget that there are thousands, if not millions, of Americans who work for less than the minimum wage—some even for negative wages (imagine that). Principal among these less-than-the-minimum are self-employed workers, tradesmen and women and small business owners, especially those starting new businesses.
NBER | Job Displacement and the Duration of Joblessness: The Role of Spatial Mismatch
This paper presents a new approach to the measurement of the effects of spatial mismatch that takes advantage of matched employer-employee administrative data integrated with a person-specific job accessibility measure, as well as demographic and neighborhood characteristics.


WSJ | Congress Takes on Spending Bills, but Fights Loom
Compared with last fall's ferocious struggle, Congress should face fewer hurdles this year in its annual effort to keep the government funded. That doesn't mean it will be easy, though.