Wednesday, July 9, 2014

General Economics

Politico | House GOP proposes EPA cuts
House Republicans proposed deep new cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday to help pay for Western priorities including money to aid local governments and fight wildfires on federal lands.
WSJ | Chinese Lead Way as Foreigners Step Up Purchases of U.S. Homes
Foreign purchases of U.S. residential real estate jumped 35% last year, with Chinese buyers leading the way, according to a survey published Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | What’s Obama’s Problem With School Choice?
Why would the federal Department of Justice cite the Civil Rights Act and the specter of segregation to try and block a school choice program where more than nine in 10 participants come from racial minority groups? Or use the Americans with Disabilities Act to claim another school voucher program discriminates against individuals with disabilities, without so much as a single complaint from a student or parent to prove their case?
WSJ | Mark Zuckerberg on a Future Where the Internet Is Available to All
There have been moments in history where the invention of new technology has completely rewired the way our society lives and works. The printing press, radio, television, mobile phones and the Internet are among these. In the coming decades, we will see the greatest revolution yet, as billions of people connect to the Internet for the first time.
Washington Times | Conversations with Reagan
Barack Obama was named the worst president since World War II, in a survey of the American people, who were asked to rate the nation’s chief executives over the past 69 years.
Mercatus | The Relationship Between Political Connections and the Financial Performance of Industries & Firms
The US federal government’s response to the recent financial crisis and recession has included an unprecedented increase in the amount of government subsidies, grants, and contracts given directly to specific private businesses. Not surprisingly, such intervention has led, in recent years, to increased attention to and scrutiny of the relationship between corporate interests and government interests.

WSJ | Even With an Uptick in Jobs, Wariness Remains on Economy’s Full Health
So economists cheered Tuesday when a monthly Department of Labor report showed slightly more than 2.5 million people chucked their jobs in May, the highest number of voluntary departures since the summer of 2008.
CATO | Where’s the Annual Social Security Report?
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has announced his intention to sue President Obama for “failure to faithfully follow the nation’s laws” by taking extra-legal executive actions in some areas and failing to execute the laws in other areas such as immigration, judicial appointments, health care, foreign affairs, and so on.

Health Care

Daily Signal | This Chart Shows How Many Obamacare Enrollees’ Self-Reported Citizenship Status Doesn’t Match Federal Data
According to a report released by the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month, “the online federal marketplace could not resolve nearly 90 percent (or 2.6 million) of its 2.9 million data ‘inconsistencies,’ which include citizenship status, income, incarceration status, and Social Security numbers,” as Marguerite Bowling reported last week for The Daily Signal. This chart breaks down those numbers.
WSJ | Report Raises Red Flags on Medicare Lab Billing
Medicare allowed $1.7 billion in 2010 payments to clinical laboratories for claims that raised red flags, according to a report to be released Wednesday, the latest example of how the federal insurance program for the elderly and disabled is susceptible to misspending and abuse.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | Health savings accounts far better than Obamacare
It’s fortunate the Supreme Court of the United States saw fit last week to rule that corporations could not be coerced into covering religiously objectionable forms of birth control for their employees. This was a critical ruling because it indicates that the majority of the court still thinks that religious beliefs and personal choice have a valid place in American society. The margin of the split decision, however, is alarming because it reminds us of how close we are to having a government that will subject moral convictions to its bureaucratically directed control.


Bloomberg | Fed Watcher’s Guide To FOMC Minutes
Here’s what to look for when the Federal Reserve releases minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s June 17-18 meeting at 2 p.m. today in Washington.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNN Money | Breakfast takes a bigger bite out of your wallet
The early bird is paying more for his worm these days. If you're keeping a closer eye on your pocket book, you're feeling a pinch when you go to the grocery store.
Real Clear Markets | The Fed's 'Blunt Instrument' Drives Financial Instability
If you were to give Federal Reserve policy makers a word-association test, their answers would be fairly predictable. Say the word inflation, and the response would be: monetary policy. Unemployment? Monetary policy. Financial instability? Macroprudential regulation.
Market Watch | ECB needs a better plan to boost Europe’s economy
Reviewing the borrowing costs of European nations, a visitor may conclude that Europe’s economic crisis is over and its rehabilitation is complete.

Market Watch | Minutes may shed some light on how and when the Fed will hike
Minutes from the June 17-18 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee will be released Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern, and there’s a little less suspense than usual because Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen had a news conference immediately following the meeting.
WSJ | House Republicans Want Fed to Adopt Policy-Making Rules
Several House Republicans are embracing Stanford University economist John B. Taylor’s call for the Federal Reserve to adopt a mathematical rule for determining interest rates, stepping into a long-running debate among central bankers about how to set monetary policy.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Illinois Tax Mandamus
Alexander Hamilton described the judiciary as "the least dangerous" branch of government, but the Illinois Supreme Court may prove him wrong. Consider its decision last week that invents constitutional protections for retiree health-care subsidies, which amounts to a sealed writ for a tax increase.
Washington Times | Putting Congress in control of tax policy again
House Speaker John A. Boehner is confronted by a president who has become virtually lawless: He runs roughshod over existing laws and legislation by changing them or not enforcing them, in complete violation of the separation of powers under Article II, Section 3. Administrative agencies under his jurisdiction issue rules and edicts beyond the scope ever intended by Congress in its enabling legislation. He makes “recess” appointments that are clearly unlawful and declared so unanimously by the Supreme Court. The list goes on and on.
CRS | Dynamic Scoring for Tax Legislation: A Review of Models
Dynamic scoring for tax legislation has been discussed for some time. House Rule 13 has required, since 2003, that the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) provide a macroeconomic impact analysis of legislation to amend the Internal Revenue Code, or a statement explaining why it is not calculable.


CNBC | May JOLTS report little changed from April
Job openings increased to 4.6 million from 4.5 million in April, the bureau said. The 4.7 million hires in May and 4.5 million total separations, including quits, layoffs and discharges, were both little changed from April.

WSJ | Job Openings Rise to 7-Year High, but Hiring Notches Scant Gains
The number of job openings in the U.S. economy climbed to the highest level in 7 years, even as the number of people being hired was little changed from recent months, according to the Department of Labor‘s monthly job openings and labor turnover survey, known as JOLTS.
Library of Economics | Economics Never Stops: What's Missing from the Minimum Wage Debate?
In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, David Neumark argued that even though "modest increases" in the minimum wage won't have large disemployment effects, the minimum wage is a poorly-targeted anti-poverty measure: "Minimum wages are ineffective at helping poor families because such a small share of the benefits flow to them."


FOX News | US consumer borrowing up $19.6 billion in May; gains slow after sudden April acceleration
Overall credit rose by $19.6 billion in May, down from a gain of $26.1 billion in April, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. The relatively modest increase should help to feed slow but steady economic growth, because consumers rely on debt to pay tuition, buy cars and shop.
Politico | Government made $100B in improper payments
By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them — tax credits to families that didn’t qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | It's Always the Spending, Whether Borrowed or Taxed
Politics' perpetual question is whether America is over-spent or under-taxed. Ideologically contemplating this conundrum, it appears an almost unanswerable Zen-like question. However, its answer is not an unknowable philosophical problem, but a straightforward fiscal one. At its roots: spending has, is, and will continue to elude revenues - even as revenues climb.
CBO | Monthly Budget Review for June 2014
The federal government ran a budget deficit of $366 billion for the first nine months of fiscal year 2014, CBO estimates—$144 billion less than the shortfall recorded over the same span last year. Through the end of June, revenues were about 8 percent higher and outlays were about 1 percent higher than they were at the same point last year.