Thursday, June 26, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | Is this government agency worth saving?
The Export-Import Bank has quickly become public enemy no. 1 among conservative Republicans in the House.
WSJ | Americans' Generational Race Gap Gets Wider
The demographic divide between older white Americans and younger minorities grew wider last year, according to Census Bureau data released Thursday, highlighting a long-term shift that might alter the interplay between generations.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | U.S. refines its crude oil export ban
The decision green-lights Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) to export condensate export condensate, an ultra-light oil. Condensate has been processed enough to make it less liable to explode, but requires further refining to be useable.
WSJ | GDP's ObamaCare Downgrade
Financial markets shrugged off Wednesday's punch-in-the-stomach report that first quarter GDP shrank by 2.9% on an annual basis, far more than earlier estimates and the worst quarterly decline in five years. Optimists blame the weather and point to faster growth in the current quarter, which is reasonable but still shouldn't overlook ObamaCare's role in nearly sending the economy back into recession.
Investors | GDP: Another 'No Biggie'?
Economists are writing off the sharp 2.9% drop in first-quarter GDP as a temporary contraction. Maybe. What isn't temporary is President Obama's massively subpar growth record over the past five years.
WSJ | Behind the Productivity Plunge: Fewer Startups
In the first quarter of 2014, GDP in the U.S. plunged at a 2.9% annual rate, and productivity—the inflation-adjusted business output per hour worked—declined at a 3.5% annual rate. This is the worst productivity statistic since 1990. And productivity since 2005 has declined by more than 8% relative to its long-run trend. This means that business output is nearly $1 trillion less today than what it would be had productivity continued to grow at its average rate of about 2.5% per year.
Washington Times | Reviving free-trade agreements would revive the economy
America’s economic engine needs a jump start. Everyone agrees on that much. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that U.S. production shrank 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014, while corporate profits tumbled 9 percent from last year’s numbers. One way out of this would be to give President Obama more power.
AEI | Is there a retirement crisis?
If you have followed the headlines in recent years on the question of Americans' retirement savings, you could be forgiven a bit of panic. "Our next big crisis will be a retirement crisis," read one headline in MarketWatch earlier this year. "The Greatest Retirement Crisis in American History," read another in Forbes. A study by the National Institute on Retirement Security put its warning in the form of a question: "The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?"

CATO | Making Sense of Federal Housing Law, Once More With Feeling!
The Fair Housing Act was enacted to prevent discrimination in the buying, selling, and renting of homes on the basis of certain protected categories, including race. While it’s clear that the Act bars discriminatory intent, such as refusing to deal with members of a certain racial group, it remains an open question whether it covers claims of “disparate impact,” where the effects of a neutral policy—say, requiring a credit check—disproportionately harms members of the protected class.
CATO | Small Is Beautiful
The sticker is appropriate for bumpers, hoods, fenders, and windshields, or even around your home on garage doors and mailboxes.

Health Care

Daily Signal | Pictures of Faith at Work: This Family Waits, Prays for Obamacare Ruling
The Supreme Court is expected to decide as early as today whether the government can force two family businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, to provide employee health plans that cover abortion-inducing drugs and devices. Countless other faith-based family businesses face devastating fines under Obamacare if they don’t break their moral and religious convictions and comply with the same mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Signal | Insurers on Obamacare Exchanges in 2015: What to Watch For
There have been a number of recent news reports about additional insurers applying to offer coverage in Obamacare exchanges in 2015. Although it is too early to draw any conclusions—since this is just the beginning of a three-month process—it is still likely that at least a few more insurers will participate in the exchanges next year.


Bloomberg | Fed Neutralized in Mortgage Bonds on Supply Slump
The $5.4 trillion market for U.S. government-backed mortgage bonds is poised for its biggest first-half rally since 2010 as a surprising drop in supply outweighs a pullback in Federal Reserve purchases.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Time for Yellen to target inflation, worry less about jobs
Now Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen is herself approaching a crossroads. And the stakes are also very high: the health of the markets and the U.S. economy over the next few years.
Bloomberg View | Banks Can Still Have Fun Prop Trading in Rates
Lawmakers sought the flexibility to finance government spending and didn’t see the trading as particularly risky, said Barney Frank, who as a Massachusetts congressman helped draft the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that mandated the Volcker Rule.
Market Watch | Kevin Warsh: Fed policy is 'reverse Robin Hood'
The Federal Reserve's easy-money policies are benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor in a "reverse Robin Hood" scenario, said Kevin Warsh, a former member of the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors.

WSJ | Consumer Inflation Hits Highest Level Since 2012, Near Fed’s 2% Target
The price index for personal consumption expenditures — the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge — advanced 1.8% in May from a year earlier, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was the highest since October 2012.


FOX Business | The Tax Story Behind 770 Accounts
My nephew recently sent me a link to a website advertising what he excitedly called an “incredible investment.”  It was for a 770 account, and he was ready to jump on the bandwagon.


National Journal | Employers’ Role in State Job-Training Programs Will Grow
It's a small change, but one that could greatly increase the influence of businesses with their local governments when it comes to job creation. A job-training bill that passed the Senate on Wednesday, 95-3, significantly bolsters employers' voices on local committees that determine what types of job-training programs receive federal dollars. It does that primarily by shrinking these committees to less than half their current size.
Fox News | Mr. Obama, where are our 5 million missing jobs?
The commerce department reported Wednesday that the economy contracted by nearly 3 percent from January through March. This dismal shrinkage in output has many Americans worrying about a dreaded double dip recession.
CNN Money | Ikea lifting minimum wage to nearly $11 an hour
Ikea is acting on its own to lift the minimum wage, and it's doing it in a unique way: The U.S. average will be $10.76 and hour, but will be adjusted in different areas for cost of living.
Bloomberg | Jobless Claims in U.S. Decreased 2,000 Last Week to 312,000
Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign of steady progress in the labor market.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus | Dreams Deferred: Young Workers and Recent Graduates in the US Economy
The young are always far more affected by an employment crisis than older workers. Today, however, they face one of the worst labor markets of any generation. Not only have they experienced the Great Recession, but six years later they still face a poorly performing labor market. Their employment level is down, earnings and earnings growth are lower, wealth is lower, and millions of the young have yet to even enter the labor force. In fact, they are a large part of the biggest ongoing economic challenge we face today—the shrinking labor force. 

WSJ | U.S. Manufacturing Importing As Many Jobs As It Exports, Says Group
America is now luring as many factory jobs back from overseas—a process known as reshoring—as it’s losing to continued offshoring.
WSJ | Fed’s Lacker: Much Labor Market Slack Remains Due to Structural Issues
Much of the weakness remaining in the U.S. labor market is due to structural issues, such as a skills mismatch between available workers and available jobs, that cannot be easily addressed by monetary policymakers at the Federal Reserve, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker said Thursday.


Politico | Should President Obama veto spending bills?
There’s life after a veto, and as a former governor, Clinton seemed to relish it. He faced down a Republican-controlled Congress for six years, during which he successfully vetoed a broad array of appropriations bills over not just money but also policy riders.