Tuesday, July 15, 2014

General Economics

Bloomberg | Fracking Sends Northeast Natural Gas Output to Record
Record natural gas production from the Marcellus shale deposit in the Northeast is helping send U.S. output to an all-time high, as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling unlocked underground supplies.
CNN Money | Reynolds, Lorillard in tobacco merger
Reynolds American and Lorillard announced a $27.4 billion merger on Tuesday that will bring together the No. 2 and No. 3 U.S. cigarette makers.
Bloomberg | Retail Sales in U.S. Showed Broad-Based Increase in June
Purchases increased 0.2 percent after a 0.5 percent advance in May that was larger than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The reading fell short of the 0.6 percent increase projected by the median estimate of 83 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, restrained by a drop among auto dealers. Demand climbed in nine of 13 major categories last month.
Market Watch | Empire State index reaches four-year high of 25.6
The Empire State manufacturing survey climbed to 25.6 in July, up from 19.3 in June, to reach a four-year high, the New York Fed said Tuesday.
Daily Signal | This Government Program Leads to Rising College Costs
Federal lawmakers have been trying for decades to reduce the burden of paying for college. Congress has significantly expanded lending, lifted caps on borrowing, and cut interest rates on federal student loans. Parents even became eligible to take out loans to pay for children’s college in the 1980s through the Parent PLUS program.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | The Economics of Marriage, and Family Breakdown
Economists have long argued that there is such a thing as a market for spouses. The old theory, associated with University of Chicago Nobel laureate, Gary Becker, is that people marry for the same reason that nations trade with one another: comparative advantage.
Bloomberg | Inequality Piketty Doesn’t Examine Is U.S. Human Capital
French economist Thomas Piketty sparked a global debate on inequality by arguing that the wealthy pull ahead by reaping disparate rewards from financial capital. He may be missing the human half of the story.
CNN Money | Economists are really worried about China's massive property sector
A dramatic building boom helped China to develop the world's second largest economy. But now, economists say, a runaway real estate sector poses the greatest risk to growth.
AEI | Back to basics
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, observers have searched for a cause for the persistent limping pace of economic growth. Demand-side theories have formed the basis of the common assertion that the lingering effects of the financial crisis are to blame for our slow growth, but a striking new paper argues that another culprit may be to blame: the computer.

WSJ | Higher Prices on Staples Could Crimp Back-to-School Shopping
The Gallup poll shows nearly three out of five households are spending more on groceries and gasoline, 45% say they are shelling out more on utilities, and 42% are spending more on health care. At the same time, a large share report spending less on nonessential items such as travel, dining out and consumer electronics.

Health Care

CNN Money | Hospitals face major government crackdown for injuring patients
A quarter of the nation's hospitals -- those with the worst rates -- will lose 1 percent of every Medicare payment for a year starting in October. In April, federal officials released a preliminary analysis of which hospitals would be assessed, identifying 761.


FOX News | US economy: Expect all talk, no action from Fed Chair Yellen's testimony this week
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will testify before Congress Tuesday and Wednesday about the economy and future Fed policy. We won’t learn much about either, because the Fed refuses to recognize the facts on the ground.
Market Watch | U.S. import price index rises slightly in June
The prices paid for goods imported into the U.S. edged up 0.1% in June, largely because of higher fuel costs, the U.S. Labor Department said Tuesday.
CNBC | Looks like the Fed wants to have even more power
Just as the Fed is getting ready to exit its controversial quantitative easing program, there's talk that it wants to expand its mandate to yet a third prong, which would see it assume responsibility for financial stability in addition to price stability and full employment.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Get Real, Monetary Policy
Last week, the House Financial Services Committee held hearings on Federal Reserve reform. Maybe the Fed could explicitly follow monetary policy rules, or become subject to conventional audits, or be the subject of a commission reflecting on its hundred-and-one years of performance. These were some of the ideas floated. Warhorses including the old International Monetary Fund hand Simon Johnson were there to say no way: everything will go haywire if you change a thing with the Fed.


WSJ | Race to Cut Taxes Fuels Urge to Merge
The tie-ups are the latest in the growing craze for so-called inversions, in which a U.S. company buys a foreign target and adopts its lower tax rate or establishes a holding company in a country with a low tax rate. The deals, mostly in the pharmaceutical industry but also cropping up in retail, consumer and manufacturing, have come fast and furious amid two trends: rebounding appetite for large, transformative mergers and acquisitions; and fear that the opportunity to use the cross-border tax strategy soon could disappear.


Bloomberg | Microsoft to Announce Job Cuts as Soon as This Week
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is planning its biggest round of job cuts in five years, as the software maker looks to slim down and integrate Nokia Oyj’s handset unit, people with knowledge of the company’s plans said.

WSJ | Quit My Job? At My Age? In This Industry?
In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, we took a look at how the collapse in job turnover has held back the economic recovery in general and the careers of young workers in particular. Even though the economy has now regained the number of jobs lost during the recession, key measures of job churn such as hiring and voluntarily quitting a job have yet to fully recover.
WSJ | U.S. Jobless Rate Closing in on Nairu Estimate
The U.S. unemployment rate is getting closer to the Federal Reserve’s estimate of the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, or Nairu–a rate that is happily low, but not so low that the economy and job market risk overheating and causing inflation.


FOX Business | 5 Avoidable Student Loan Mistakes
Here are five expensive mistakes parents and students make that lead them into too much student loan debt... and how to steer away from the more expensive path.
Daily Signal | This State Overpaid on Food Stamps, Costing Taxpayers Millions.
Overall,Kansas incorrectly paid out 3.99 percent of the roughly $474 million distributed during fiscal 2013. The state overpaid on 3.24 percent ($15.4 million) and underpaid on .75 percent ($3.5 million) of all SNAP disbursements.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | How Congress lost control of government spending
The so-called “entitlements,” such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and Obamacare, take a larger and larger portion of the total federal budget each year. Former U.S. Treasury economist Eugene Steuerle, now at the Urban Institute, has created a Fiscal Democracy Index, which measures “the extent to which past and future projected revenues are already claimed by the permanent programs that are now in place.” In 1965, these programs claimed about 35 percent of the federal budget; now they claim about 85 percent of the budget, and they will soon claim more than 100 percent of total tax revenue.
CBO | The 2014 Long-Term Budget Outlook
Between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946, causing its debt to soar. The total amount of federal debt held by the public is now equivalent to about 74 percent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP)—a higher percentage than at any point in U.S. history except a brief period around World War II and almost twice the percentage at the end of 2008.