Thursday, May 15, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | Poorest poor left out of government aid
Many Americans think the poorest of the poor are simply sitting on their couch and collecting an ever-growing government check. Actually, their benefits have been shrinking.
Market Watch | Home-builder confidence lowest in a year: NAHB
Builders' confidence in the market for newly constructed, single-family homes declined in May to the lowest level in a year, hitting 45 this month, compared with 46 in April, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing-market index released Thursday.
FOX Business | Mid-Atlantic Manufacturing Activity Rises in May
The Philadelphia Fed’s gauge of manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region rose to 15.4 in May from 16.6 the month prior. The May reading surpassed Wall Street’s expectations of 14.
CNN Money | Why many retired women live in poverty
Gender inequality doesn't end at the workplace. For many women, the gender gap haunts them well into their retirement years, when far more women find themselves living in poverty.
Market Watch | FCC votes to propose new 'net neutrality' rules
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to propose new rules on "net neutrality."

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | What If Global Warming Is the Path Toward Better Living Standards?
I think it is possible for humanity to face global threats that require global solutions. But before sacrificing sovereignty and freedom for a perceived threat such as global warming, there are four conditions that must be met: 1) show that the earth is warming, 2) show that the primary cause of warming is due to mankind, 3) show that warming is a bad thing, and 4) show that the cost of solving global warming is lower than the cost of the warming.
Politico | Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac reform will only get harder
The leading Senate proposal to get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is stalled, and the job of figuring out what to do with the two mortgage finance giants isn’t going to get any easier in the final years of the Obama administration.
FOX Business | Contractors Seek Better Climate for Small Business
As Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) members celebrate National Small Business Week, this week also provides an opportunity for the construction industry to take a look at important issues that continue to hold back our growth and development.
Bloomberg | Appaloosa’s Tepper Says Hold Cash as Markets ‘Dangerous’
David Tepper, founder of $20 billion hedge-fund firm Appaloosa Management LP, said he’s nervous about markets as the U.S. economy isn’t growing fast enough amid complacency by the Federal Reserve.
Market Watch | Economy improving faster than markets and Fed believe
At this point, the economy is improving faster than either the markets or the Federal Reserve can believe.

WSJ | Why Do Regulators Want to Ease Mortgage Standards?
Wednesday’s Journal leads with a story noting how Washington is doing a U-turn on certain policies and regulations that have tightened mortgage-lending standards over the last few years. Here’s a look at some of the key questions and answers:

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | How to run the U.S. health care system like a business
Reports that corporations are looking to dump high-cost employees off their private health care plans and onto Obamacare reminds us yet again just how costly American health care is.

Heritage Foundation | What Happens If There Is No Employer Mandate for Obamacare?
A recent Urban Institute report provides the “news” that Obamacare’s employer mandate has negative labor market effects, particularly for low-income Americans. Even think tanks that support Obamacare have realized it broke the labor market, particularly for low-skilled workers.


Fortune | Inflation pressures increased last month
The Labor Department on Thursday said its seasonally adjusted consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.3% in April. The gasoline index grew 2.3%, the first increase for the energy index since January, despite declines for electricity and fuel. The food index grew 0.4% last month--the third consecutive increase.  The latest increase was due to a sharp rise in meat prices.

WSJ | 5 Things You Always Wanted To Know About Inflation Statistics
The Consumer Price Index has increased 2% in the past year, the strongest increase in nearly a year. So is inflation high or low or right at the Fed’s target or none of the above?


FOX Business | Senator Mike Lee: Gas Tax Needs to End
President Obama visited New York’s Tappen Zee Bridge on Wednesday to push a $302 billion transportation project, but as the White House is pushing for more infrastructure spending, Republicans and Democrats are at odds over how to pay for it.
WSJ | Income Tax Yo-Yo Hits U.S. States
Many state governments were pulled out of the recession by a surge in tax revenue from their residents' stock-market gains. But that money spigot has slowed, leaving budget holes and debates over the reliance on the wealthy just as many governors face re-election.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | Mansion Tax: The Effect of Transfer Taxes on the Residential Real Estate Market
Houses and apartments sold in New York and New Jersey at prices above $1 million are subject to the so-called 1% "mansion tax" imposed on the full value of the transaction. This policy generates a discontinuity (a "notch") in the overall tax liability.


Bloomberg | Jobless Claims in U.S. Reach Lowest Level in Seven Years
The fewest Americans in seven years filed applications for unemployment benefits and consumer prices rose by the most in 10 months, adding to signs the economy is gaining momentum.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Why It's So Hard to Get a Job
Investors, business executives and policy makers hope to find answers to all sorts of questions in monthly economic statistics. But for the general public, one query reigns supreme: How hard is it to get (and keep) a job?


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Russian Holdings of U.S. Treasuries Dropped 20% in March
Russia’s holdings of U.S. government securities fell by 20 percent in March as the U.S. and Europe stepped up pressure against Russia and as analysts said the nation’s central bank tried to shore up the value of the ruble.
Mercatus | A Better Balanced Budget Rule
A negative externality arises when A’s actions impose costs on B without the latter’s consent. If a manufacturer is allowed to dump noxious byproducts into a river, imposing costs on downstream residents, it creates a negative externality. Because he fails to account for the costs he imposes on others, the manufacturer will make too much of his product.