Monday, July 7, 2014

General Economics

National Journal | A Hot July Forecast on Capitol Hill
The unfinished work of this Congress is piling up with no more than 20 scheduled legislative days before the annual August recess, and standoffs over economic issues and other matters are continuing to vex lawmakers as they return to session this week.
CNN Money | Obama wants more financial reform
The ink is barely dry on the post-crisis financial reforms, but President Obama says more is needed.
WSJ | Political Battle Over Export Bank Heats Up
Lawmakers at a recent House hearing on the future of the Export-Import Bank were given an extra piece of reading material: a personalized index card laying out exactly which companies in their districts benefit from the financing agency and how many people they employ.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | An accounting of economic failure
Republicans have a wealth of political issues that will dominate the 2014 midterm election races and determine their outcome.
National Journal | Why Doesn't the Government Track Social Mobility?
Unlike poverty rates, the deficit, and other economic measures, the federal government has no standard way of tracking movement up the income ladder.
CNN Money | Housing market is a 'crapshoot'
The housing market is a "crapshoot" now, according to one of America's leading real estate experts.
Mercatus | With Corporate Welfare, There's No 'Trickle Down'
Advocates of corporate welfare often claim that when governments privilege a handful of firms, the rest of the economy somehow benefits. This is how the Bush Administration sold the bank bailouts. It's how the current Administration sold the auto bailouts. And it's how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is trying to sell the Export-Import Bank.
CRS | Shale Gas and Hydraulic Fracturing: CRS Experts
The use of hydraulic fracturing—along with advanced drilling methods—has enabled the production of oil and gas from unconventional (low-permeability) reservoirs that were previously inaccessible.

CATO | Independence in 1776; Dependence in 2014
Since the 1960s, the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) has provided a list of all federal subsidy programs. That includes subsidies to individuals, businesses, nonprofit groups, and state and local governments. The CFDA includes subsidies for farmers, retirees, school lunches, rural utilities, the energy industry, rental housing, public broadcasting, job training, foreign aid, urban transit, and much more.

Health Care

Politico | Why liberals are abandoning the Obamacare employer mandate
By July, the former aide and longtime confidant of President Barack Obama had a lot more company. More and more liberal activists and policy experts who help shape Democratic thinking on health care have concluded that penalizing businesses if they don’t offer health insurance is an unnecessary element of the Affordable Care Act that may do more harm than good. Among them are experts at the Urban Institute and the Commonwealth Fund and prominent academics like legal scholar Tim Jost.
Daily Signal | Reporter Calls Colorado’s Obamacare Website ‘Clunky, Counterintuitive and Confusing’
Colorado journalist Brandon Rittiman called the state’s Obamacare exchange website “clunky, counterintuitive and confusing” after reviewing the website for a TV news story. Colorado received $179 million in federal grants for the state’s healthcare exchange, a portion of which was dedicated to building the site.


Bloomberg | Yellen’s Economy Echoes Arthur Burns More Than Greenspan
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen faces an economy that is starting to look more like Arthur Burns’s in the 1970s than Alan Greenspan’s in the 1990s.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | Markets to receive clues about Fed’s views on jobs
It may be hard to imagine after the stellar jobs report, but notes from a recent Federal Reserve meeting are likely to show this week that some central bank officials were recently concerned about the labor market.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Japan's Corporate Tax Cut Opportunity
Lower corporate tax rates stimulate investment and growth. This is hardly a controversial statement among mainstream economists. Yet for some reason economists in Japan assume the rate cut proposed by Shinzo Abe will have few net benefits and large immediate costs. Maybe the Prime Minister needs to add a fourth policy arrow to clean out the brain dead in his own Finance Ministry.
CBO | H.R. 4935, Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014
H.R. 4935 would increase the amount of the child tax credit and the income thresholds at which the credit begins to phase out for taxpayers. Under current law, an individual may claim a tax credit of $1,000 for each qualifying child under the age of 17. H.R. 4935 would index the $1,000 amount for inflation starting in 2015.
CATO | Stagnant for Decades, Japan Needs Supply-Side Tax Cuts
The Japanese economy grew by 4.7% a year from 1983 to 1991, but by less than 1% ever since.


FOX News | Government union membership climbs while private membership declines
Unions representing government workers are expanding while organized labor has been shedding private sector members over the past half-century. A majority of union members today now have ties to a government entity, at the federal, state or local levels.
Market Watch | We’re in the midst of the longest job-growth streak
Today’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) continues 2014’s streak of good news, as the U.S. is finally digging out of the crater the recession put in the job market.
WSJ | As Jobs Surge, Hurdles Linger
The U.S. economic expansion is entering its sixth year with the best stretch of job growth in almost a decade. Beneath the shiny exterior, however, lurk soft patches that worry economists and policy makers.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Who Really Gets the Minimum Wage
The president and others argue that a higher minimum wage is needed to help poor and low-income families, who have suffered from stagnating wages and rising income inequality. But a higher minimum wage would do little for such families.
Real Clear Markets | Unemployment Numbers Warn of Growing Entitlement Burden
The U.S. economy this spring finally reached an employment number equal to the pre-recession peak. The time to recover the employment lost in a recession was a record and long-term unemployment is still at unprecedented levels. Yet the official unemployment rate is at a fairly low level of 6.1 percent.
Forbes | For More Jobs, We Need Faster Growth
In response to Thursday’s “Employment Situation” report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a commentator named Justin Wolfers tweeted, “There is simply no bad news in this jobs report. Go on, dig into the detail, and see if you can find it. I dare you.”
Real Clear Markets | The Unemployment Rate Should Lose Its Job
Recent economic headlines have probably left you scratching your head. Last week, we learned that GDP decreased by an alarming 2.9% in the first quarter, continuing a trend of weak growth since the end of the recession in 2009. Normally, this means that unemployment should be getting worse, or at least not improving much. And yet, the BLS reported last Thursday that the unemployment rate fell again in June. It's now 1.4 percent lower than it was at this time last year, suggesting the economy is strengthening.
Daily Signal | Teens Need Summer Jobs. Too Bad There Aren’t Many.
School’s out, and I’m terrified my two teenage boys won’t get a job this summer and will sit around watching TV, playing computer games or just eating me out of house and home. Idle hands really are the devil’s workshop, and at this stage, I’d pay an employer to get the kids out of the house and teach them some practical lifetime skills.

WSJ | 5 Takeaways from the June Employment Report
Businesses and governments went on a hiring spree in June. The 288,000 jump in nonfarm jobs signals a strong economic end to a first half that started the year shivering in frigid temperatures. Here are five items in the June payrolls report that have implications for 2014’s second half.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | S. 2117, Smart Savings Act
S. 2117 would change the default investment fund in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for government employees. Currently, contributions of employees who are enrolled in the TSP, but have not specified where to invest their funds, are automatically invested in the Government Securities Investment Fund. This bill would shift the default fund to a Lifecycle fund with an age-appropriate asset allocation.