Tuesday, June 3, 2014

General Economics

Politico | EPA carbon proposal faces major hurdles
The carbon rule that the Environmental Protection Agency issued Monday is President Barack Obama’s last best hope for a legacy on climate change, and could fulfill environmentalists’ hopes for dramatically lessening the United States’ reliance on coal.
FOX Business | Monthly Auto Sales Hit Pre-Recession Levels
Top automakers on Tuesday reported higher-than-expected U.S. new car sales in May, with consumer demand continuing to gather strength as temperatures rise across the country.
National Journal | Should the Government Force Food-Stamp Users to Eat Better?
Food-stamp users would be much healthier if they were forbidden to spend federal dollars on soda, but subsidizing part of the cost of their fruits and vegetables would not have a significant impact on obesity and diabetes, according to a new report from Stanford University.
FOX News | ISM corrects US factory index to show solid growth in May; orders and production jump.
The Institute for Supply Management has twice corrected its May manufacturing index to show that factories grew at a strong pace last month. The original report said that manufacturers had expanded at a weaker pace.
Free Beacon | USDA Creating $1.9 Million Research Center Devoted to Changing American’s Food Choices
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is creating a $2 million research center to study how the government can “nudge” Americans toward making healthier eating habits.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Most home builders see shortage of lots to build
Families buying new homes can expect prices to continue to rise, as builders say there’s a low supply of developed lots and that properties suitable for new housing have become more expensive.
WSJ | The New Anti-Coal Rules Will Cut Jobs and Hurt the Economy
On Monday, the Obama administration unveiled new regulations to restrict the amount of carbon dioxide produced by existing power plants. While we agree that America needs to balance energy needs with environmental concerns, the timing of this effort could hardly be worse for the struggling U.S. economy.
Market Watch | The next four days could rock uneasy markets
U.S. markets have been floating along in uneasy calm, with low volume, low volatility, and a looming fear that threats could soon rock that complacency. Such a threat may arrive in the coming days.
Washington Times | Obama’s amazing shrinking economy
America’s economy is backsliding again, and it’s too late now for Barack Obama to put the blame on George. It can’t be his fault, so the weather is taking the fall for the 1 percent decline in the gross domestic product. America, so the explanation goes, couldn’t thrive during the winter because it was cold outside. Where’s that global warming when we need it?
Washington Times | How fracking has saved Obama
Without fracking of oil and gas deposits, there would have been no economic growth in the U.S. over the past five years. Yet the oil and gas industry has been a favorite whipping boy of the environmental zealots both inside and outside of the administration. Without those brilliant entrepreneurs and engineers in the private sector who developed the new techniques to unlock massive amounts of oil and gas at reasonable cost, it is unlikely that President Obama would have been re-elected.

Health Care

WSJ | Veterans Affairs Hospitals Vary Widely in Patient Care
The Phoenix facility at the heart of the crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs is among a number of VA hospitals that show significantly higher rates of mortality and dangerous infections than the agency's top-tier hospitals, internal records show.
WSJ | Hospitals' Prices for Common Services on the Rise
Federal data released Monday show an increase in the average price hospitals charge to treat common conditions, with vascular procedures and chest-pain treatment showing some of biggest upticks.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | More Insurers Lower Premiums: Evidence from Initial Pricing in the Health Insurance Marketplaces
First-year insurer participation in the Health Insurance Marketplaces (HIMs) established by the Affordable Care Act is limited in many areas of the country. There are 3.9 participants, on (population-weighted) average, in the 395 ratings areas spanning the 34 states with federally facilitated marketplaces (FFMs).

Daily Signal | Maryland to Spend $43 Million to Fix Obamacare Website
After spending roughly $130 million to build a faulty website, Maryland officials voted last week to spend $43.5 million more to transition the state’s health insurance exchange site to new technology that is reported to fix enrollment problems.


Bloomberg | Slowing Euro Inflation Puts Pressure on Central Bank
Euro-area inflation slowed more than economists forecast in May, cranking up pressure on the European Central Bank to deploy measures as soon as this week to kindle prices and drive growth.

WSJ | Why It’s Too Early to Hit the Inflation Panic Button
One of the most popular guessing games among financial policymakers, journalists and investors is trying to figure out when inflation has ticked up enough to trigger an interest rate hike by the Fed. Unlike most games, however, the outcome of this one was major real-world consequences.
WSJ | Interest Rates Might Be Higher If Monetary Policy Spoke with a Texas Twang
The Lone Star State is firmly integrated into the broader U.S. economy, including national monetary policy. Dallas is home to one of the Federal Reserve’s 12 regional banks, and the Dallas Fed’s president, Richard Fisher, is an active member of the Fed’s policy-making committee.


WSJ | Japan Clears Way for Corporate Tax Cut
Japan's ruling party on Tuesday cleared the way for a corporate tax cut to take effect next year, pushing forward a plan that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes will revive investment and keep production at home.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Is California a State Defined by Delusion?
In mid-May, speaking at a California Chamber of Commerce event, California Governor Jerry Brown made two statements that best encapsulate the feelings of Sacramento's elected leadership: "California is definitely back," Brown exclaimed followed by "this is a job creation engine."
Slate | Why Doesn’t Obama End the Hedge Fund Tax Break?
The Obama administration could disable one of the most powerful sources of wealth and income inequality in our country. Yet no one ever mentions it as a possibility. Don’t they know?


FOX Business | Seattle OKs Minimum Wage Hike to $15 Per Hour
The Seattle city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve a hike in the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, to be phased in over the next seven years.
Bloomberg | Barclays Said to Start Cutting Jobs in Investment Banking Unit
Barclays Plc (BARC), the U.K.’s second-biggest lender by assets, will start cutting hundreds of jobs across its investment bank this week, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NY Post | Labor Dept.’s P.E.E. distorts jobs numbers
The Labor Department will be P.E.E.’ing all over the May employment report that will be released this Friday. So, as I correctly predicted would happen last month, the number of new jobs created in May should also come in deceptively strong.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus | CBO: Export-Import Bank, FHA Mortgage Guarantees, and DoED Student Loan Programs Yield Losses, Not Profits
Released in May of 2014, the report estimates the expected budgetary costs of the DoED’s four largest student loan programs, Ex-Im’s six largest export credit programs, and the FHA’s single-family mortgage guarantee program using CBO’s “fair value” accounting method for FY 2015 to FY 2024.