Monday, July 28, 2014

General Economics

Politico | Export-Import Bank faces danger from all sides
Conservatives may be headlining the opposition to the Export-Import Bank, but the efforts of coal-friendly Democrats to change the little-known agency’s rules could further jeopardize its future.
FOX Business | Pending Home Sales Unexpectedly Sag in June
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Monday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, fell 1.1 percent to 102.7.
CNN Money | Smart people buy generic brands
Nine times out of 10, pharmacists and doctors will buy the generic version of aspirin, rather than a brand-name like Bayer. Likewise, professional chefs prefer store-brand sugar, salt and baking powder instead of brand name ingredients.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Times | To fix America, copy Texas
Imagine if Democrats could point to one state that survived the economic recession better than the rest because of liberal policies. Imagine if that state created more jobs, attracted more new businesses and cut the cost of living significantly. Democrats would sing the praises of that state to every voter in the 2014 and 2016 elections.
Daily Caller | What if Obama Defended American Business?
Wouldn’t it be great if Obama acknowledged that U.S. firms are overburdened by the highest corporate tax rate among developed countries, and as a result are becoming less and less competitive?
Washington Times | Ryan’s entitlement reforms would promote work
Poverty is as endemic today as it was when President Lyndon Johnson inaugurated the War on Poverty, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, is offering sensible proposals to change things for the better.
Daily Signal | This Chart Proves the War on Poverty Has Been a Catastrophic Failure
For the past 50 years, the government’s annual poverty rate has hardly changed at all. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty, roughly the same rate as the mid-1960s when the War on Poverty was just starting. After adjusting for inflation, federal and state welfare spending today is 16 times greater than it was when President Johnson launched the War on Poverty. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S. How can the government spend so much while poverty remains unchanged?

WSJ | Some Home Builders Say First-Time Buyers Returning, Others Not Sure
The anticipated return of first-time buyers to the housing market remains, like many economic indicators, prone to fits and starts. This week, two more leading home builders differed on whether first-timers are on their way back.
Library of Economics | Intervention Leads to More Intervention
The late Ludwig von Mises famously argued that when governments intervene in the economy, they often create new problems. Then, to address these problems, they impose new regulations that themselves to new problems, etc.

Health Care

Daily Signal | Doctors: Government-Run Health Care Driving Us Out of Business
Advocates of single-payer health care promise high-quality low-cost health care for all. But physicians in Vermont say the state’s move towards a single-payer health care system is driving independent doctors out of business and eliminating patient choice.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Heritage Foundation | New Obamacare Enrollment Data: Employer-Based Coverage Declines
New data show that the number of people who have private health insurance increased by just over 520,000 in the six months between October 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014. That was because almost all the gains in individual coverage through the Obamacare exchanges were offset by reduced enrollment in employer-sponsored group coverage.


Bloomberg | Yellen Watching What She Eats Would Help Track Prices
The next time Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen grabs dinner at her favorite eatery, she might want to take a longer look at the cost of her entrée.
WSJ | Fed's Rate Debate Looks Set to Heat Up
Federal Reserve officials will likely move closer to ending their purchases of mortgage and Treasury bonds at a policy meeting this coming week and discuss when and how to raise interest rates.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | The Danger of Too Loose, Too Long
First, we are experiencing financial excess that is of our own making. There is a lot of talk about "macroprudential supervision" as a way to prevent financial excess from creating financial instability. But macroprudential supervision is something of a Maginot Line: It can be circumvented. Relying upon it to prevent financial instability provides an artificial sense of confidence.
CRS | Federal Reserve: Oversight and Disclosure Issues
Critics of the Federal Reserve (Fed) have long argued for more oversight, transparency, and disclosure. Criticism intensified following the extensive assistance to financial firms provided by the Fed during the financial crisis. In 2010, the identities of borrowers were publicly disclosed for the first time. Recently, critics have sought a Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of the Fed.

WSJ | Fed Forward Guidance Works, Sometimes Better Than Others: IMF
The Federal Reserve’s various efforts at honing its low-rates message have been successful at keeping borrowing costs down by giving investors greater clarity about the likely path of policy, according to the International Monetary Fund.
WSJ | IMF Lays Out Own Fed Exit Strategy
Fed officials are expected to continue discussions about what combination of interest-rate tools to use when they decide it’s time to raise borrowing costs across the economy, and the IMF this week offered a few suggestions.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Why Corporate Inversions Are All the Rage
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) recently called the American tax code a "rotting mess of a carcass." The phrase captures how repugnant the current tax system has become—and perhaps most repugnant is the U.S. tax treatment of corporate income, especially from foreign sources.

CATO | ALEC Report on State Tax Expenditures
State policymakers often look for ways to attract investment, companies, talent, and residents to their states. Sometimes they do it with sensible and broad-based reforms, such as reducing business regulations, increasing school quality, or lowering and simplifying making taxes. Unfortunately, another way they try to do it is to provide narrow tax benefits and subsidies to particular businesses and industries.


CNN Money | There's no place like the economy
The key thing to watch is whether robust jobs growth is continuing into the second half of the year. In June, the government said 288,000 jobs were added, bringing the total number of jobs added in the first six months of 2014 to 1.4 million. That was the strongest six months for job growth since 2006.
CNBC | Across US job market, layoffs are becoming rare
As the U.S. economy has improved and employers have regained confidence, companies have been steadily shedding fewer workers. Which is why applications for unemployment benefits have dwindled to their lowest level since February 2006—nearly two years before the Great Recession began—the government said Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus | Misleading Minimum Wage Statistics
Earlier this month, President Obama seized upon fresh data from the Labor Department to argue for a higher minimum wage. According to the president and a subsequent Associated Press report, the 13 states that raised their minimum wages in January of this year are now enjoying, on average, faster job growth than the other 37 states.

FOX Business | Mid-Market Report: More Jobs on the Way?
According to a new survey by American Express (AXP), more than 80% of firms say they plan to hire staff over the next six months. About 52% plan to hire only full-time employees, while 55% of the companies surveyed say they currently have more employees than they did a year ago.


CNN Money | Investors help the rich pay off student loans
It's an increasingly popular form of lending called peer-to-peer, or P2P. Firms like Social Finance (SoFi) and contemporaries Lending Club and Prosper pair people who want income with people looking for credit. It's an end run around traditional bank lending.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | Reversing the Decline in Small Business Lending
Of course small business lending is risky. The annual failure rate for firms with fewer than five employees averages around 20 percent — 1 in 5. That’s true even during a boom.