Friday, June 20, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | Kentucky charms small business owners
Kentuckians -- grab yourself a mint julep, there's news to celebrate: the Bluegrass State is making improvements to welcome small businesses into the fold -- and it's working.
CNN Money | How Congress could mess with your commute
Gridlock on Capitol Hill may mean more gridlock for you over the next year if you have to navigate potholes, congested roads, rundown rails or bad bridges.
WSJ | Young Migrants Tax System
Mr. Biden's visit is one piece of the White House's unfolding response to a surge of children traveling illegally to the U.S. from Central America, unaccompanied by an adult, in what has become a humanitarian and political crisis for the Obama administration. On Thursday, President Barack Obama called Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss the need for "concrete proposals" as part of a regional strategy to stem the tide, the White House said.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Feeble growth raises doubt about EU recovery
This is the verdict of the group of economists at the Centre for Economic Policy Research that provides the most authoritative analysis of business cycles in the euro zone.
Washington Times | Obama’s anti-oil antics drill into workers’ pockets
It’s bad enough that during the past six years Americans have had to suffer from painfully weak economic growth, too few jobs, flat wages and rising taxes, under President Obama’s policies. Now we’re facing rising inflation that economists say will only get worse.
Spectator | The New Twist on Inequality
In pre-modern times, the disparity in men’s and women’s higher education opportunities was often defended by the view that women’s education would be wasted because they’d end up “just being mothers.” Of course, we now recognize that a mother’s education plays a vital role in the education of her children and, thus, in the welfare of the community and society as a whole.

Health Care

National Journal | The Mystery Obamacare Enrollment Number Has a New Estimate
Fifty-seven percent of the more than 8 million individuals who purchased private coverage through the health law's new insurance marketplaces were uninsured beforehand, according to a new survey from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, released Thursday. Most said they had been without coverage for at least two years.


FOX Business | Good Inflation, Bad Inflation: The Fed's Dilemma
Average Americans who shop at the grocery store, fill up their tanks at the gas pump and pay monthly utility bills have to be shaking their heads in confusion amid the growing debate over inflation.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Asset-Rich, Income-Poor Economy
Economist Richard Koo diagnosed Japan's crash in the early 1990s and subsequent two decades of economic malaise as a "balance-sheet recession." That conclusion wasn't lost on the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis of 2008-09. The Fed engineered an emergency response to craft what can best be described as a balance-sheet recovery.
NY Times | Federal Reserve’s Bond-Buying Fades, but Stimulus Doesn’t End There
The Federal Reserve is poised to keep purchasing large volumes of mortgage bonds, and potentially Treasury securities too, even after the likely conclusion of its prominent bond-buying program later this year.

WSJ | Grand Central: Did The Fed Misdiagnose The Expansion, And Kill It?
Harvard University professor Lawrence Summers has argued that the U.S. has been in a period of secular stagnation – the second, supply-side scenario laid out by Greg at The Economist. Mr. Summers dates this back to long before the 2008-2009 recession. A look at the supply side of the economy – the inputs of labor and productivity – backs up this view that the gears of the economy were downshifting long before the recession.
WSJ | St. Louis Fed Financial Stress Gauge Hits a Record Low
According to a weekly index produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, market stress hit a record low reading in the week ending on June 13. The bank said its Financial Stress Index came in at -1.303 for the week, after standing at -1.264 the prior week.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Massive Tax Increase Hidden Inside Obamacare
With this week's federal announcement that millions of middle- and low-income people are getting a surprisingly large number of taxpayer dollars attached to their participation in the Obamacare health plans, can we begin to take seriously the idea that the fiscal policies and regulations hidden in the Affordable Care Act are shrinking our economy?
Mercatus | Reforming the Mortgage Interest Deduction
The mortgage interest deduction (MID)—the second largest tax break in the United States at $69 billion per year—has long been touted as a critical tool for promoting middle-class prosperity and homeownership. But Americans may be surprised to learn that the only taxpayers who receive a large benefit from this deduction are those in upper income brackets; most taxpayers don’t benefit at all from the deduction.

CBO | Projections of Tax Expenditures
On the basis of estimates prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, CBO projects that, under current law, all tax expenditures in the individual and corporate income tax systems will total roughly 8.2 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2014, if their effects on social insurance taxes as well as on corporate and individual income taxes are included. CBO estimates that the comparable total for 2017 is 9.0 percent.


National Journal | Senate Could See New, Five-Month Unemployment Insurance Bill Next Week
Senate negotiators are once again going to bat for unemployment insurance. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada—a Republican who has been working closely with Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island for more than a month to construct new legislation—said the announcement will likely come next week.
FOX Business | Trading Slowdown Has Goldman Mulling Further Cuts
To cut or not to cut? That is the question Goldman Sachs executives are preparing to answer when the firm unveils second-quarter earnings next month, and investors will be focused on the shrinking profitability of the firm’s once-mighty traders, the FOX Business Network has learned.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Massachusetts approves $11 minimum wage
Lawmakers in the Bay State gave final approval on Thursday to legislation that will gradually raise the minimum to $11 an hour by 2017, up from $8 today. Governor Deval Patrick received the bill Thursday evening, said Jesse Mermell, a spokeswoman. He is expected to sign it into law soon.

Market Watch | The counties where both wages and jobs are growing
The Labor Department on Thursday released data on wage and job growth by county, and one way to figure out the hot spots for employment is to look at places where both wages are growing and employers are hiring. The data, current through the fourth quarter of 2013, shows Santa Cruz, Calif. with the strongest wage growth of 6.5%, helped by the tech boom. Weld, Colo., had the largest increase in employment, with a gain of 6%, on a splurge of construction.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Here Comes The Student Loan Forgiveness
President Obama is in the process of expanding a student loan forgiveness program through his executive power (the infamous pen). Whether constitutional or not, he appears to believe that he can add more students to the eligibility list for a program he created by regulation in November 2013. This “Pay-As-You-Earn” program is partly about lowering the monthly payments to make student loans more affordable for graduates, but mostly it is the foot in the door to student loan forgiveness.
CATO | Fiscal Uncertainty and Economic Activity
Over the past six years, policymakers and business leaders alike have seen the U.S. economy buffeted by larger-than-usual uncertainty about fiscal policy. As illustrated by a number of prolonged struggles at all levels of government in recent years, there is little consensus among policymakers about the fiscal mix and timing going forward.