Wednesday, June 4, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Service Industries in U.S. Grow at Fastest Pace Since August
Service industries expanded in May at the fastest pace in nine months as orders picked up, indicating improving sales will help the U.S. economy strengthen.
Market Watch | U.S. productivity falls 3.2% in brutally cold first quarter
U.S. productivity in the first quarter declined by an even sharper 3.2% annual rate - the worst in six years - as workers spent more time on the job producing fewer goods during an unusually stormy weather, newly revised data show.
CNN Money | The American Dream is out of reach
So say nearly 6 in 10 people who responded to CNNMoney's American Dream Poll, conducted by ORC International. They feel the dream -- however they define it -- is out of reach.
Bloomberg | Trade Gap Jumps to Two-Year High as Americans Buy Imports
The trade deficit ballooned in April to the widest in two years as Americans bought record amounts of consumer goods, business equipment and automobiles from abroad.
CNN Money | Why hasn't Main Street recovered like Wall Street?
If the five-year recovery from the Great Recession were a stereotypical college party, Wall Street would be the cool jocks drinking beers while everyday Americans would still be waiting for their invitations.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Owning a home no longer the American Dream
The great American Dream is dying. Even though many Americans still desire to own a home, they are losing faith in homeownership as a key to prosperity.
Investors | Will Obama's Long Economic Winter End In Recession?
Obamanomics: The bitter-cold winter is long over but an eery chill remains in the economy. This was the quarter consumers were supposed to snap back to life and rev up growth. It's not happening yet.
Real Clear Markets | Inequality In America: Fact or Fiction?
Claims of ever-increasing shares of wealth going to top earners are a perennial complaint. This year, partly due to the publication of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, discussions of inequality are preoccupying policymakers and political pundits.
Washington Times | A model for rolling back outdated regulations
Very few people would argue for maintaining horse-and-buggy rules in the era of driverless cars, such as Google’s recently introduced prototype. Most rules still manage to linger on year after year — and they still have the force of law. Why?
AEI | Gas power
Vladimir Putin has an unappreciated ally in his aggression against Ukraine: Western environmentalism. Europe collectively has little will to stand up to him, in part because Europe has given Russia the key to its economy—its energy supply.

Library of Economics | Uncertainty Can Go Both Ways
In a recent response to Byran Caplan on global warming, Yoram Bauman rested part of his argument against cost/benefit analysis on the issue of uncertainty.

Health Care

WSJ | Five States' Health-Care Exchanges See Costly Fixes
Five states that launched health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act expect to spend as much as $240 million to fix their sites or switch to the federal marketplace, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | Public Health Insurance Expansions and Hospital Technology Adoption
This paper explores the effects of public health insurance expansions on hospitals’ decisions to adopt medical technology. Specifically, we test whether the expansion of Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women during the 1980s and 1990s affects hospitals’ decisions to adopt neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

Daily Signal | What Will Obamacare’s Future Look Like?
Obamacare is dramatically reshaping health care markets, especially the individual insurance market. The first results of the law’s standardization of coverage and imposition of new government benefit mandates and regulations were increased premiums—quite substantial in many cases—and the loss of existing coverage for several million Americans.


FOX Business | Fed's Fisher Wants October End to QE3; Sees No 2014 Rate Hike
Richard Fisher, one of the Federal Reserve's most ardent policy hawks, said on Tuesday he would favor ending the U.S. central bank's massive bond-buying program in October, but said he does not expect the Fed to start raising interest rates until next year.
WSJ | ECB Officials Anxious About Impact of U.S. Fines on EU Banks
European regulators, anxious about potentially massive U.S. penalties against BNP Paribas SA and other continental banks, are scrambling to determine whether they could pose a threat to the financial health of major lenders, according to regulatory and industry officials.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | 100 Years Later, What's Become Of Our Federal Reserve?
The Federal Reserve is one hundred years old, and it is celebrating its centenary by embarking on grand plans for the future. Those plans include experimental approaches to monetary and regulatory policy.

WSJ | Stimulus Exit Needs Careful Coordination, World Bank Official Says
Unwinding central banks’ unprecedentedly large bond-buying programs is a tricky — and risky — business. For the chief financial officer of the World Bank Group, the exit from easy monetary policy is something regulators worldwide should seek to coordinate.
WSJ | Interest Rates at Zero May Link Uncertainty with Slower U.S. Growth: Dallas Fed Paper
Uncertainty about the direction of the U.S. economy has been associated in recent years with weaker growth, at least in part because the Federal Reserve has kept short-term interest rates pinned near zero, argues new research from the Dallas Fed.


Library of Economics | Private affluence, public squalor, high taxes
Every time I visit New York I think about John Kenneth Galbraith's famous remark about American private affluence and public squalor. There is impressive new residential construction.


CNN Money | U.S. soon to recover all jobs lost in crisis
Set your sights on this number: 113,000. That's how many jobs the U.S. economy needs to hit its break-even point, to finally recover all the jobs lost in the financial crisis.
Bloomberg | Companies Add Fewer Workers Than Forecast, ADP Data Show
Companies in the U.S. added fewer jobs than forecast in May, a sign of uneven progress in the labor market, a private report based on payrolls showed.

WSJ | Seattle’s Very Big — and Very Complex — Wage Jump
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed one of the country’s most generous — and complicated — minimum wage rules into law Tuesday, and it’s already drawing the ire of some businesses and at least one threat of legal action.
Daily Signal | The Job Killer You Probably Haven’t Heard About
American taxpayers’ money is at risk—backing loans to foreign governments and businesses to buy products from politically favored U.S. companies. This is killing jobs in several American industries.
CATO | Federal Employment by Department
We’ve learned about what a huge and dysfunctional agency Veterans Affairs is in recent weeks. I had not realized that the agency added 100,000 workers in just the past seven years.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | Absent major changes, Puerto Rico faces a fiscal calamity
As U.S. officials and private investors become more concerned about the financial fate of Puerto Rico after nearly a decade of economic decline, attention has turned to an $8.5 billion bank, which may be the key to whether this island of 3.7 million people flourishes or self-destructs.

WSJ | Top Illinois Lawmakers Shrug as Moody’s Warns of Troubled Finances
The Land of Lincoln already has the lowest bond rating among U.S. states. But Moody’s Investors Service is raising new concerns after state legislators passed a budget last week letting tax revenues fall, while doing little to cut costs. The ratings firm estimates the state will see a $1.8 billion, or 4.7%, drop in tax revenues in the fiscal year starting July 1 and respond by letting a backlog of unpaid bills balloon further.