Wednesday, October 1, 2014

General Economics

CNN Money | Thanks Starbucks: Pumpkin Sales Skyrocket
Ever since Starbucks (SBUX) introduced its famed pumpkin spice latte about a decade ago, pumpkin sales have skyrocketed. It's led to the increased popularity of pumpkin-spiced everything, including spicy pumpkin beef jerky and pumpkin beer.
Bloomberg | Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Plunge After Court Ruling on Profit
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FMCC) plunged in New York trading after investors including Bruce Berkowitz’s Fairholme Capital Management LLC lost a legal bid yesterday to force the bailed-out companies to share profits with private shareholders.
Wall Street Journal | September U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Drops
U.S. consumers unexpectedly pulled back on their economic optimism in September, according to a report released Tuesday.
CNBC | Economists slash Q3 GDP forecast, but see steady growth ahead
Although economists have lowered their estimates for third-quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth following an extremely volatile first half of the year, they see the economy growing steadily, according to a survey released Monday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Technology Is Thriving, So Why Are the Feds Strangling It?
A growing number of economists are describing the current slump as a form of secular stagnation, where diminishing outlets for capital investment have slowed economic growth, reduced the demand for labor and stalled the economic recovery.
Wall Street Journal | Double Trouble Carbon Regulation
President Obama prophesied at the United Nations last week that climate change is the "one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other," and perhaps this vision of Apocalypse explains why he thinks he can disregard the law to regulate carbon.

Cato Institute | Addressing the Critics of This Purportedly No Good, Very Bad Chart
For the past few years I have charted the trends in American education spending and performance (see below). The goal is to see what the national data suggest about the productivity of our education system over time.
Market Watch | Here’s a part of the U.S. economy no one’s worrying about
The manufacturing industry is one part of the U.S. economy that’s generating virtually no worries. Auto sales have repeatedly set new postrecession highs and most industries are experiencing their fastest growth in several years despite lackluster performance in key export markets such as Europe.
Wall Street Journal | A Look at Case-Shiller by Metro Area
The S&P Case-Shiller national home price index is up just 5.6% in the year ended in July, continuing a slowing trend since late 2013.
Mercatus Center | The Sharing Economy
Over at the Tech Liberation Front, my colleague Adam Thierer has sketched out a few themes in the debate over the sharing economy. His discussion of leveling the regulatory playing field is particularly important.
Cato Institute | Government Crowding Out, USPS Style
Economists will sometimes support government interventions in industries where there are serious market failures. But with grocery delivery, private businesses are already performing the service, and no market failure is evident.

Health Care

Politico | Obamacare’s Surprises
Most of the debate over the Affordable Care Act has focused on its coverage provisions: the health-care exchanges where Americans can shop for insurance, the controversial mandates for employers and individuals and the expansion of Medicaid in the states.
Wall Street Journal | Doctors Net Billions From Drug Firms
Drug and medical-device companies paid at least $3.5 billion to U.S. physicians and teaching hospitals during the final five months of last year, according to the most comprehensive accounting so far of the financial ties that some critics say have compromised medical care.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
The Washington Times | Obamacare, one year later
As a doctor and congressman, I'm often asked what I prefer to be called.
Wall Street Journal | Medical Mergers Are Driving Up Health Costs
Health-care costs are going up, and there's a lot of debate about why. Is it the high cost of drugs or our aging population?


Bloomberg | IMF Urges More Oversight of $60 Trillion Shadow Banking System
The International Monetary Fund urged regulators to pay closer attention to a shadow banking system that has grown to as much as $60 trillion worldwide to help prevent risks from building outside the bounds of traditional financial oversight.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Money Is Not Wealth -- But It Helps Create Wealth
THE GLOBAL ECONOMY is a mess today because most economists, bankers and political leaders don’t understand that most basic of subjects: money.
Forbes | The Rise And Fall And Rise And Fall Of King Dollar, Part 2
As stated in the preceding column, here, eminent labor economist Jared Bernstein recently called, in the New York Times, for the dethroning of “King Dollar,” claiming that the reserve currency status of the dollar has cost the United States as many as “six million jobs in 2008, and these would tend to be the sort of high-wage manufacturing jobs.”


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
AEI | Tax reform for both capital and labor
Growth is the problem. Or more precisely, slow growth is the problem. It’s the reason so many public policy questions in the United States now seem impossible to resolve.

Blogs                                                                                                                     | Time Inconsistency in Tax Policy: A Colombian Case Study
This discussion is related to the time inconsistency of optimal policy, which occurs when the government cannot implement an optimal tax policy because the stated policy is inconsistent with the government's incentives over time.


Fox Business | Minimum Wage Hike Supported by Majority of Businesses
The majority of businesses favor raising the minimum wage, saying it would raise the standard of living among their employees and give the companies a better chance to hold on to their workers, new research finds.
Bloomberg | Private Payrolls in U.S. Increased by 213,000 in September
Companies hired 213,000 workers in September as the labor market continued to strengthen, a private report based on payrolls showed.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
USA Today | Where the jobs are: The new blue collar
The 21-year-old works in what looks like NASA's mission control, monitoring the manufacturing process at Chevron Phillips petrochemical plant in Houston.
NBER | Labor Market Fluidity and Economic Performance
U.S. labor markets became much less fluid in recent decades. Job reallocation rates fell more than a quarter after 1990, and worker reallocation rates fell more than a quarter after 2000.

Wall Street Journal | Long-Term Jobless Perfectly Employable, New Report Finds
U.S. workers who have been out of a job for six months or longer can and will reenter the labor market as the unemployment rate falls further, according to a new paper countering arguments that the long-term jobless are increasingly unemployable due to an erosion of skills.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus Center | Curbing the Surge in Year-End Federal Government Spending: Reforming ‘Use It or Lose It’ Rules
The “use it or lose it” phenomenon refers to the propensity of US government agencies to spend unused financial resources toward the end of the fiscal year out of fear that leftover resources will be returned to the Department of the Treasury and will prompt future congressional budget cuts for the agency.
AEI | The imaginary retirement-income crisis
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) claimed at a recent congressional hearing that 92% of Americans are unprepared for retirement. Other senators noted studies claiming that 53% to 84% of Americans will have inadequate income in old age.