Thursday, July 3, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | U.S. Consumer Comfort Closes Strongest Quarter Since 2007
Consumer comfort fell last week for the first time in more than a month, ending its best quarter since the last U.S. recession began almost seven years ago on a sour note.
Bloomberg | Trade Gap in U.S. Shrinks More Than Forecast on Record Exports
The trade deficit in the U.S. narrowed more than forecast in May on record exports, signaling a pickup in global growth that will boost American manufacturers.
National Journal | How Cash-Strapped Towns Are Saving Fourth of July Fireworks
In recent years, several towns—small and large—on tight budgets have canceled their fireworks shows for the Fourth of July. But it might not be the smartest way of saving money, especially considering the economic booms the shows create, and the fundraising options out there for these struggling towns.
Bloomberg | Euro-Area PMI Surveys Signal Growth Doubled in Second Quarter
Euro-area manufacturing and services growth point to a strengthening economy in the second quarter, even as activity cooled in June.
WSJ | Retail Rents on Rise as Space at a Premium
Shopping-center owners continued to increase rents in the second quarter as a host of retailers in expansion mode jockeyed for dwindling available space in existing high-quality centers.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Failure of Macroeconomics
Output per capita fell almost 10 percentage points below trend in the 2008 recession. It has since grown at less than 1.5%, and lost more ground relative to trend. Cumulative losses are many trillions of dollars, and growing. And the latest GDP report disappoints again, declining in the first quarter.
CNN Money | Your commute could get even worse
Gridlock on Capitol Hill may yield more gridlock for American commuters who have to navigate congested, pothole-filled roads and highways, rundown rails or bad bridges.
WSJ | The Not-So-Small Business Administration
Last month the Small Business Administration updated the criteria it uses to determine what qualifies as a "small business" for the first time since 2008. The formula varies by industry, sometimes calculated by number of employees, other times by annual revenues or total assets. Thanks to the change, approximately 8,500 more companies (some with more than 1,000 employees) will now be eligible for the designation—and the federal assistance that goes with it.
Market Watch | The Great Obama Bull Market will roar till 2016
Yes, it’s time to celebrate. We’re in a historic bull market. GOP conservatives keep fighting the wrong war, against the Obama economy. Meanwhile, the Obama bull market keeps roaring ahead!. And the long term looks even better: Bullish pundits predict stocks will continue climbing into the 2016 presidential election.
Forbes | We've Crossed The Tipping Point; Most Americans Now Receive Government Benefits
Obamacare has pushed us over the entitlements tipping point.  In 2011 some 49.2 percent of U.S. households received benefits from one or more government programs—about 151 million out of an estimated 306.8 million Americans—according to U.S. Census Bureau data released last October.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Daily Signal | Obamacare Is Working Out Great (If You Ignore the Problems)
Actually Obamacare has had a pretty bad four years. Not surprisingly, most Americans still don’t like Obamacare. So the Obama administration’s allies are insisting that the unpopular law is working very well, thank you very much.


CNN Money | Fed won't raise rates just to burst bubbles
No doubt about it: The Federal Reserve's record low interest rates over the last few years have led some investors to take on riskier investments in search of higher returns.
Bloomberg | U.S. Ex-Im Chief Optimistic Bank Will Survive
U.S. Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said he’s optimistic that the agency will build enough support to survive lawmakers’ efforts to abolish it this year.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Yellen Says Financial Instability Shouldn’t Prompt Rate Change
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said concerns about financial stability shouldn’t prompt a change in current monetary policy while flagging “pockets of increased risk-taking” in the financial system.
Forbes | Peace Through Weakness -- The U.S. And Japan Sputter
The U.S. has set aside the doctrine of “peace through strength,” relying instead on hope and multilateralism. The New York Times captured the consequences of this in its June 23 headline on Iraq: “Reality Overtakes Hope.” That’s just the latest evidence of policy failure.
Real Clear Markets | With Ex-Im, Congress Should Be Pro-Market, Not Pro-Business
There's nothing new about proponents of limited government opposing the often incestuous relationship between government and business. Being "pro-market" is not the same thing as being "pro-business."
Fortune | Yellen: Don't blame the financial crisis on low rates
The Fed chair argued that raising rates during the run up to the crisis would have led to higher unemployment without getting to the core issues facing the financial system.
Mercatus | There Are Better Ways to Help US Exporters Compete Abroad Than the Ex-Im Bank
Proponents of the Ex-Im Bank often argue that its export credit subsidies to foreign buyers “level the playing field” in international trade. Supporters claim that similar activities from foreign export credit agencies (ECAs) like the Compagnie Française d'Assurance pour le Commerce Extérieur in France or the Export-Import Bank of Korea necessitate the defensive actions of the Ex-Im Bank. According to this argument, all American exports would suffer a great deal if the Ex-Im Bank were not able and willing to counteract these foreign subsidies. 


Politico | Lawmakers turn to stealth tax measures
They want to give the IRS more power to investigate you. And enlist private debt collectors to help track down your old debts. If you’re a doctor, they want to seize your Medicare payments. They’d also like a bit more information about the mortgage interest tax deduction you’re claiming.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The IRS Has Unleashed a Massive New Regulation
As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, the Internal Revenue Service has unleashed a massive new regulation under the guise of reducing tax evasion. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act - FATCA - took effect July 1, imposing substantial new compliance requirements and paperwork burdens on foreign financial institutions, which must now track the financial activity of U.S. citizens and report that information to the IRS.


FOX News | 32 US states still haven't regained all the jobs they lost in recession even though nation has
Five years after the Great Recession officially ended, most states still haven't regained all the jobs they lost, even though the nation as a whole has.
Bloomberg | Payrolls Jumped as U.S. Jobless Rate Fell to 6.1% in June
Job creation surged beyond expectations in June and the unemployment rate fell to an almost six-year low of 6.1 percent, underscoring the strength of a U.S. labor market that will help spur a rebound in growth.
Market Watch | U.S. jobless claims edge up to 315,000, layoffs low
The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 to 315,000 in the week ended June 28, the Labor Department said Thursday.

WSJ | Highlights from the June U.S. Jobs Report
U.S. employers went on a hiring spree in June, adding a seasonally adjusted 288,000 jobs – the fifth consecutive month that nonfarm payrolls grew by more than 200,000, a streak unmatched since the end of the 1990s. The unemployment rate was 6.1% in June, down from 6.3% the prior month. Here are highlights from the Labor Department’s employment report, released Thursday morning:


FOX Business | 10 States With the Most Student Loan Debt
As student loan debt continues to climb, President Barack Obama recently announced plans to expand loan relief programs, including a cap on monthly payments at 10% of household income.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | The IMF Is Following the Obama Administration’s Playbook on the Federal Budget
The International Monetary Fund’s report on its 2014 Article IV Consultation with the United States risks encouraging inaction by U.S. lawmakers on adopting structural entitlement reforms to control U.S. spending and debt growth.