Friday, May 30, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Consumer Spending in U.S. Unexpectedly Declines
Consumer spending unexpectedly fell in April after the biggest surge in almost five years as incomes slowed, a sign the largest part of the U.S. economy will take time to accelerate.
Bloomberg | Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Fell More Than Forecast in May
Consumer confidence fell more than forecast in May, a sign consumer spending may be slow to pick up in the second quarter.
CNBC | A bright spot for economy: Fewer people rely on food stamps
After a surge in 2008, government spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has peaked and begun falling, according to an analysis of the latest data by the research institute Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. So have the number of participants collecting SNAP benefits.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Income Redistribution Is About Votes, Not About Helping The Poor
Everyone knows the famous Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime. So why does the federal government spend so much money on giving away fish and so little on teaching people how to fish? Because Democrats want people to depend on government so that they will vote to re-elect them.
FOX Business | Flawed Policies Leading to Setback in Growth?
The U.S. economy contracted at an annual rate of 1% during the first quarter, according to revised data released Thursday by the Commerce Department. It marked the first time in three years that productivity and growth have shrunk.
Mercatus | The Economic Situation, June 2014
Have you ever had a car break down just as you felt you were beginning to get somewhere? And had to get out and hitchhike, hoofing it while hoping for a ride? If so, you know what it’s like to have your speed reduced to a crawl and to be hoping for a better ride.
NBER | Very Long-Run Discount Rates
We provide direct estimates of how agents trade off immediate costs and uncertain future benefits that occur in the very long run, 100 or more years away.

Fortune | More Americans borrowing against their homes
History repeats itself. Past is prologue. Everything is a cycle. Pick any cliché you want, but the fact is lending vehicles that practically disappeared following the 2008 credit crisis are back.
WSJ | Fed’s Lacker: Economy’s Contraction ‘Not Unexpected’ but Sees Possible Rebound Soon
That was “not unexpected, given the data flow we’ve seen,” Mr. Lacker said in an interview on CNBC, pointing to a drop in inventories, a rise in imports and a fall-off in defense spending. “There are a lot of transitory factors that will reverse and unwind in the second quarter.”
Heritage Foundation | GDP Report Confirms We Now Have a $2 Trillion Obama Growth Deficit
This morning’s depressing revised calculation of the growth of the economy in the first quarter of 2014 (-1.0 percent) makes it official: The Obama expansion is now $2 trillion short of where we would be if growth in this recovery had matched the Reagan recovery that started in 1982.

Health Care

National Journal | Obamacare’s Partisan Divide Is Bending Our Brains
"How has Obamacare affected you?" is a question whose answer depends on your income, how you get health insurance, and a couple of other demographics. But how people think Obamacare has affected them depends instead on their politics, according to the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fiscal Times | VA Scandal Exposes Single-Payer Health Care Flaws
A new scandal at the Veterans Administration has brought to the forefront all of the issues of accountability and performance of government bureaucracies in health care. The Inspector General’s report following up on the allegations of wait-list fraud and preventable deaths of dozens of American veterans provides a confirmation of the worst possibilities of federal monopolies on health care, and an indictment of the Obama administration’s executive competence. - See more at:
Reason | The VA Health System Is a Tragic Warning Against Government-Run Health Care
A damning report released by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General will likely leave Democrats and their liberal allies clamoring for reforms to the government run health system for those who have served in the military.

Heritage Foundation | Report: Veterans Waited An Average of 115 Days for Doctor Appointments in Phoenix
In April, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs , requested that the VA to look into allegations of delays in VA medical care and preventable veterans’ deaths.  Yesterday, the VA office of Inspector General issued an interim report on the subject, and it is damning.


Market Watch | U.S. inflationary pressure continues to build, index shows
In yet another sign U.S. inflation is rising, the government's PCE index rose in April to its highest annualized rate since late 2012, the government reported Friday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | A Rate Hike Has Been the Worst Market Call of 2014
The worst market call of 2014 has, so far at least, been the virtual assumption that interest rates will rise. Indeed it was just over a year ago that rates rose sharply due to Chairman Bernanke's hint that the Fed would begin "tapering" - reducing stimulus - in view of a strengthening U.S. recovery.
Real Clear Markets | The Fed Has Robbed Us Of a Vibrant Private Banking System
The evolution of currency and banking out of the nineteenth century provides more than a limited glimpse into the concepts and philosophies that we struggle with still. At the outset of the 1800's, the economic foundation in monetary terms was built upon specie, true hard money.
WSJ | A Better Solution for Too-Big-to-Fail Banks
Critics of Dodd-Frank have long argued that the law has not ended the danger posed to taxpayers and the financial system by "too-big-to-fail" banks. Instead, the law's "orderly liquidation authority" has institutionalized the problem by creating a formal bailout procedure and earmarking a new source of tax revenue to fund bailouts.
Washington Times | Dodd-Frank and regulation gone rogue
A bit of wisdom was actually uttered on Capitol Hill last week. The nation’s chief securities regulator told the House Committee on Financial Services that it was “extraordinarily important” for policymakers to “listen to the expertise” of professionals before running regulatory roughshod over industry.

Market Watch | A new hawk at the Fed? We may find out Friday
Investors will be listening closely for clues when Loretta Mester, the incoming president of the Cleveland Fed, gives her maiden speech on Friday. She will speak at 12:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Fed’s inaugural inflation conference.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
FOX Business | Small Business Guide to Internet Sales Tax
Comprehending sales tax law is a lot like trying to understand the dinner table conversation at the mad hatter’s tea party. Sales tax law varies from state to state, and each industry has a special set of tax rules it needs to follow.
Heritage Foundation | Thomas Piketty’s wealth tax would be an administrative nightmare
Thomas Piketty’s best-selling treatise “Capital in the 21st Century” elates liberals because it argues on behalf of soaking the rich with excessive taxation. Mr. Piketty’s preferred mechanism for equalizing incomes is to institute a global tax on wealth.


Bloomberg | Minimum Wage Increases Advance From California to Seattle
Unions and other advocates of higher minimum wages saw advances in California and Seattle as President Barack Obama’s call to raise the federal minimum languishes in Congress.
WSJ | Factory-Job Rebound Produces Winners, Losers
The U.S. has added about 650,000 factory jobs since their numbers rebounded after the recession, putting manufacturing workers at 12.1 million and reversing a long decline in such jobs. But uneven growth has created regional disparities in the nation's overall economic recovery.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fortune | Congress fails the long-term unemployed, once again
May 31 will mark the expiration of the measure to renew emergency unemployment compensation from January through June that the Senate passed with bipartisan support early last month. The House has left the legislation for dead ever since.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CRS | State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2015 Budget and Appropriations
The annual State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill (also referred to here as "foreign affairs appropriations" or "foreign affairs funding") is the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress reviews the U.S. international affairs budget and influences executive branch foreign policy making.