Wednesday, May 28, 2014

General Economics

Politico | Cap and trade lives on through the states
Nine Northeastern states already take part in a regional trading network that puts an economic price on their power plants’ carbon output, while California has a carbon trading system that is linked with Quebec. The Northeastern states saw their power plants’ carbon emissions drop more than 40 percent from 2005 to 2012, the trading network told EPA in December — without any of cap-and-trade critics’ apocalyptic expectations for such a system.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area Economic Confidence Climbs More Than Expected in May
Economic confidence in the 18-nation euro area increased more than forecast in May, as the European Central Bank considers taking action next month to avert the risk of deflation and spur growth.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Get Ready For the Subprime Mortgage Crack-Up 2.0
In 1991 community advocate Gail Cincotta, in testimony before the Senate Banking committee stated: "Lenders will respond to the most conservative standards unless [the GSEs] are aggressive and convincing in their efforts to expand historically narrow underwriting." The next year Congress imposed affordable housing mandates on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Washington Times | ‘O’ is for Obama’s overregulation
It has always the intention of the Obama administration to remake the American economy, and, in doing so, remake American society at large. Nowhere has this been more evident than in its use of executive branch power — through regulations, executive orders and task force operations — to target industries (and the segments of society that they serve) and bring them to heel to do what the administration wants.
Market Watch | China acquiring recklessly, just as Japan did in 1980s
In a country where almost any pair of people disagree on something, Israel’s biggest food producer, Tnuva, has been a pillar of consensus.
WSJ | Are We Underestimating America's Fracking Boom?
Start with exotic Nazi technology, take a detour with South African apartheidists, and add a bit role for Iranian imams. What you have is—what else? —one of the most improbable and important American business stories of the past decade.
Investors | Why Does Washington Still Suffer From Fatal Conceit Of Central Planning?
F.A. Hayek won the Nobel prize in economics in part because of his prescient warning about what he called "the fatal conceit," of intellectuals, who tend to believe that they are capable of centrally planning life for everyone.
NBER | The Economic Stimulus Payments of 2008 and the Aggregate Demand for Consumption
Using a survey of households in the Nielsen Consumer Panel and the randomized timing of disbursement of the 2008 Economic Stimulus Payments, we find that a household’s spending rose by ten percent the week it received a Payment and remained high cumulating to 1.5–3.8 percent of spending over three months.

Market Watch | Robert Shiller: Falling mortgage rates may ‘stimulate’ home sales
Mortgage rates have dropped so much this year – falling about one-third of a percentage point — that the low levels could “stimulate” the housing market, Nobel Prize-winning economist and home-price expert Robert Shiller said Tuesday.
Fortune | A Kickstarter for real estate gets a big boost
Fundrise, a crowdfunding platform that gives neighborhood residents a stake in what gets built, secures a $31 million round from some tech and real estate heavy hitters.
Heritage Foundation | The Economic History Lessons We Never Learned
Are conservatives going to allow liberals to rewrite the history of the Great Recession, just as they so successfully did in writing the fictitious account of the Great Depression, which now appears in almost every American history text?

Health Care

National Journal | Politics of Immigration Leaving Millions With No Health Care
Lines have been drawn on the familiar issues in immigration reform: border security, an earned pathway to citizenship, and visa programs. Notably missing from the conversation on both sides of the aisle is how to provide health coverage to the millions of newly legalized immigrants.
WSJ | Insurers Push to Rein In Spending on Cancer Care
Insurers are changing how they pay for cancer care, aiming to blunt soaring costs and push oncologists to adhere to standardized treatment guidelines.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
FOX Business | Medicaid Eating Up States’ Budgets: Will Taxpayers Pick Up the Tab?
It’s widely accepted that consumers will likely face higher health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act over the next few years due to inflation within the health-care industry and the wider availability of care nationwide. But another medical-related government program might also cause their taxes to rise: Medicaid.
Mercatus | The Political Roots of Health Insurance Benefit Mandates
Benefit mandates restrict the kinds of plans that private health insurance companies can offer by requiring them to cover certain conditions or procedures. Benefit mandates should not be confused with individual mandates (which require individuals to buy health insurance) or employer mandates (which require employers to buy health insurance for their workers).


Bloomberg | Yellen Has Scant Power to Relieve U.S. Housing Slowdown
The hesitant housing recovery has surprised and concerned Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues at the central bank. It’s not clear how much they can do about it.
WSJ | Federal Reserve Lacks Official to Oversee Regulatory Efforts
The Federal Reserve has aimed a seemingly nonstop spate of rules at the nation's biggest banks as it tries to wring risk out of the U.S. financial system in the wake of the financial crisis.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | We Need A Boring Monetary Policy
Yes, monetary policy is boring. However, market panics, financial crises, recessions, unemployment, and poverty can also get boring after a while. Unfortunately, it now seems clear that new Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen is determined to continue Ben Bernanke’s rules-free, improvisational, monetary chaos.
AEI | Focus on currency manipulation
Martin Feldstein, the renowned Harvard University economist, is calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to end its 20-year practice of reporting to Congress on a semi-annual basis as to whether America's main trading partners have been manipulating their exchange rates.

WSJ | Fed Still Short of Employment, Inflation Goals, Lockhart Says
The Federal Reserve must be patient before it considers raising interest rates even after the central bank winds down its bond-buying program and as the recovery picks up steam, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said Tuesday.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Slate | A Portrait of the Billionaire as a Young Tax Cheat
Creation myths about entrepreneurs inevitably include tales of triumph over adversity—a failed early company here, a break with a long-term partner there. Richard Branson, the goateed and grinning mascot of British capitalism, is no different. His Virgin empire grew from a record label that brought us both the Sex Pistols and Boy George to encompass airlines, rails, and mobile phone service.

WSJ | Jeroen Dijsselbloem Urges Euro-Zone Countries to Cut Taxes
A top euro-zone official on Tuesday called on the bloc's governments to look for a concerted effort to lower taxes, a move he said could boost the region's sluggish economy and create jobs.
CATO | Talking Taxes with Rep. Ralph Hall
Rep. Ralph Hall is in the news for losing to a primary challenger in his Texas district. I first met 91-year-old Hall just last week as we were on a Capitol Hill panel together organized by the Texas Association of Business (TAB). In the photo, that’s Hall to my right and Rep. Kevin Brady and TAB head Bill Hammond on my left. (Photo credit: Office of Rep. Hall).


CNN Money | Michigan raises minimum wage to $9.25
The minimum wage has gotten a boost in Michigan, the latest in a growing number of states where lawmakers voted this year to raise the wage.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
LA Times | A higher minimum wage -- at what cost?
Washington politicos want to know which way popular winds are blowing so they can set their sails accordingly. Rarely, though, are they as explicit as President Obama in citing public opinion as a justification for policy. When pressed to defend his call for a $10.10 minimum wage, Obama routinely points to the November 2013 Gallup poll wherein 76% of respondents said they favored a higher minimum wage. A higher minimum wage is "what America wants," asserts the president.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | A presidential legacy of record overspending
Federal spending is exploding under President Obama, shattering every record for budget deficits, public debt and annual expenditures. So much so, that a term like “big government” fails to adequately define the fiscal wreckage that has occurred under his presidency.