Wednesday, January 21, 2015

General Economics

Market Watch | Housing starts rise to highest annual tally in seven years
The pace of construction started on new U.S. homes rose last month to cap the strongest year in seven, according to government data released Wednesday.
Wall Street Journal | Dollar’s Rise Squeezes U.S. Firms
The stronger dollar is often presented as an optical problem for U.S. companies—it makes their overseas sales look smaller. But it can do a lot of real damage, too.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Market Watch | The crisis of the middle class and American power
When I wrote about the crisis of unemployment in Europe, I received a great deal of feedback. Europeans agreed that this is the core problem while Americans argued that the United States has the same problem, asserting that U.S. unemployment is twice as high as the government’s official unemployment rate.
Market Watch | Swiss move is small preview of what would happen in euro breakup
Since the European sovereign-debt crisis erupted in 2009, everyone has wondered what would happen if a country left the eurozone. At first, the debate focused on crisis countries — Greece, or maybe Portugal, Spain, or Italy. Then there was a rather hypothetical discussion of what would happen if strong surplus countries — say, Finland or Germany — left. | The Real Obama Economy: A Subpar Recovery Drags on
Obamanomics: It's fair to say humility isn't one of the president's virtues, and so it's no shock he took a bow for his self-declared status as savior of the American economy in his State of the Union address. He shouldn't have. | Ignoring the Yield Curve May Be Dangerous to Your Health
Economists clearly have too much time on their hands. "Fed watcher" is no longer part of the job description now that the Federal Reserve provides guidance on what it plans to do. A reliance on econometric models has taken some of the thought process out of forecasting. And blogging has supplanted the need for real-time economic analysis.
Market Watch | How the stock market reacts to State of the Union speeches
Gerald Ford wasn’t known as a particularly great communicator. But whatever his reputation for awkwardness, each of Ford’s three State of the Union addresses to the nation was rewarded by the stock market the following day, according to data compiled by the WSJ Market Data Group going back to 1961.

Forbes | In State Of The Union President Celebrates Acceleration Of Economic Growth And Proposes Policies To Slow It
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama bragged about the rate of economic growth over the past year, the fact that the unemployment rate is at the low point for his presidency, and even about low gas prices. The fascinating thing is that within minutes of his reveling in this economic good news, he began proposing ways to bring this economic acceleration to a halt.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | One Year After the ACA, Healthcare That Is Less Affordable and Accessible
Last month the White House proudly announced that after completing the first year of Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation the number of uninsured Americans is at historic lows-11.3% in the second quarter of 2014, down from 14.4% the year before. Over 10 million people enrolled for health insurance through Medicaid or an insurance exchange. But signing up for insurance does not equal access. Healthcare has to be available and affordable. The ACA did not achieve these goals in 2014 and 2015 will be worse.
Forbes | Medicare Part D Rebates Will Hurt More Than Help
It’s no great secret that America needs to get its fiscal house in order.
Bloomberg | Obamacare's Long-Term Prognosis
Compared to last year, Obamacare's 2015 open enrollment is a boring story -- no spectacular IT failures, no politically charged policy cancellations. And as Obamacare wends to the end of its second open-enrollment period, it would seem that we should know more about the shape of the final program. What have we learned so far?


Market Watch | Obama tax plan could push some banks to shrink
President Barack Obama’s tax proposal could increase costs for banks — and could even lead banks to reduce their size.
Market Watch | Treasury Secretary Lew calls for lower corporate tax rate
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Wednesday that the U.S. should lower the corporate tax rate but do so by closing loopholes, in a way that is revenue neutral in both the short and long term.
Market Watch | Republicans say Obama plan imperils tax reform
Republicans say President Barack Obama’s decision to pitch tax changes for individuals in his State of the Union address — like raising capital gains taxes on the wealthy — show Obama isn’t serious about tax reform.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
National Review Online | Obama’s New Tax Plan: Destructive Social Engineering
The tax proposals in President Obama’s new economic plan are significantly worse than we expected, combining several tax increases on investment with an especially destructive form of social engineering.
Washington Times | The rich pay more than their fair share
Since he first appeared on the national stage, Barack Obama has been claiming that the "rich" don't pay their "fair share" of taxes. But to the contrary, the "rich" pay far more than their "fair share", which official IRS and CBO data have shown for years, reconfirmed in new, recent reports.
The Daily Beast | Obama’s Half-Assed Tax Hike Populism
Eight years after launching his campaign, and six years after being inaugurated, President Obama is finally living up to the greatest fears of his detractors in a significant way. Tonight, he’s expected to propose a plan to tax the rich and banks more, and distribute the proceeds to those on the lower rungs of the income ladder through tax credits. But he still won’t do much to address a glaring tax loophole that exists only to help the rich get richer.
Forbes | Arguments For Higher Gas Taxes Run On Empty
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW what fuels Americans’ ire with our political class, just look at the hot new idea percolating in Washington and state capitals: Raise taxes on gasoline! Thanks to a stronger dollar and burgeoning oil inventories, gas prices have plummeted. The typical family may save $550 or more this year, money they can now spend on other necessities or things they enjoy. Winter heating bills will be lower. Should this trend last, auto and truck manufacturers will get a big break: People will buy bigger vehicles, which is where the juicy profit margins are.
Bloomberg | Avoiding Taxes Can Be Really Expensive
Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | There Is No Reason The Minimum Wage Should Rise With Productivity Or Average Wages
When we get the bien pensants over at the New York Times telling us why small business owners should see their incomes fall as a result of a rise in the minimum wage we tend to get every argument there is thrown in a bucket and then served up to us in an unholy mess.

Wall Street Journal | Is 2015 the Year Every U.S. City Adds Jobs?
For the first time since the recession ended, payrolls are expected to grow in all of America’s cities, according to a new report, a sign of broad-based economic expansion after years of uneven gains.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus Center | Federal Cybersecurity Breaches Mount Despite Increased Spending
n the wake of the high-profile cybersecurity breach at Sony Pictures Entertainment in December, President Obama unveiled reform proposals that would increase the federal government’s ability to direct American cybersecurity practices. These proposals, which include increased federal funding, a cybersecurity summit, and legislative changes to encourage information-sharing among private sector organizations and government bodies, are only the most recent efforts in a long line of government attempts to nationalize and influence private cybersecurity practices. Despite years of increased cybersecurity spending, the federal government already has a poor track record in maintaining good cybersecurity and information-sharing practices for its own information technology (IT) systems.