Friday, February 6, 2015

General Economics

Market Watch | Average hourly earnings had biggest gain in over six years
Average hourly earnings jumped 0.5% in January to $24.75, the best showing since November 2008, according to Labor Department data released Friday. That took the year-on-year rise to 2.2%. Average weekly earnings also rose 0.5% during the month.
Market Watch | U.S. adds 257,000 jobs as wage gains appear
The U.S. added 257,000 new jobs in January to start off 2015 on a strong note, with evidence emerging that an influx of hiring over the past year may finally be pushing up wages after years of sluggish growth.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Wall Street Journal | Wobbly Policies Make For a Shaky Economy
We’ve long understood that poorly crafted laws and regulations can inhibit investment and economic growth, but at least investors and business managers can incorporate stable rules into their strategies. There’s another barrier to growth that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves: the uncertainty created by temporary policy making.
Market Watch | U.S. growth may sputter with productivity and population growth so low
It’s tough to read much in the latest quarterly swings in productivity data, but taken over the last four years, they paint a fairly dismal picture of the potential for growth from the U.S. economy.
Wall Street Journal | Oil Boom a ‘Game-Changer’ on Trade Deficit
Petroleum imports accounted for less than 20% of the nation’s trade deficit last year, down from more than 40% only five years earlier, according to figures for 2014 released Thursday.
Forbes | The Too-Much-Of-A-Good-Thing Economy
You know the old expression “be careful what you wish for — it may actually come true”? Well, somewhere there are a bunch of early-1980s economists who may now be regretting what they wished for 35 years ago.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Wall Street Journal | How Not to Bungle an ObamaCare Opening
Republican congressional leaders were wise to propose an alternative to the Affordable Care Act this week, as the Supreme Court may strike down a key provision of the law after hearing King v. Burwell next month. The case involves subsidies to individuals who purchase health insurance on federal exchanges.
Forbes | Personalized Medicine: Government Is The Problem, Not The Solution
In his new budget President Obama is calling for a federal investment in “personalized medicine.” If that doesn’t strike you as an incredible public policy U-turn, you haven’t been paying attention.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Fiscal Times | Did the Fed’s QE actually do anything for the real economy?
Eric Rosengren, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, gave a speechin Frankfurt on Thursday arguing that the Fed’s full employment mandate gave the central bank more flexibility to be aggressive earlier, and that open-ended programmes that are tied to economic targets are more effective than purchases of predetermined size and duration.

Wall Street Journal | Benefits of Aggressive Fed Policy Still to Peak, Fed Paper Says
The Federal Reserve’s unconventional policies of buying bonds and providing verbal assurances about the future path of interest rates are still working their way through the economy, and will continue to support growth for some time, according to a new Fed board paper.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | So PwC Aids In Tax Avoidance; Good, That's What PwC Is For, Aiding In Tax Avoidance
We’ve another of those splutterings from the Public Accounts Committee that one of the accounting firms, PwC, aids firms in avoiding tax. Which is great really, as that’s what those taxation arms of the accounting firms are for, aiding people in avoiding tax. Not in evading tax you understand, that’s illegal. But in navigating the complex tax rules so that the right amount of tax is paid at the right time in the right place. For that’s what all this whining about “tax avoidance” really is. Firms are faced with tens of thousands of pages of tax law that has been pumped out by the legislatures over the years. It’s not something that is comprehensible by any mere mortal.

AEI | We’re #2 in taxing investment income. But apparently that’s not good enough
Many economists believe that the optimal tax rate on investments is zero. Higher investment rates growth and wages, so why discourage it? Nevertheless, most countries levy at least some taxes on investment income. Some country has to be the highest. And apparently someone working for the Obama administration asked, “Why not us?” The administration’s proposed increase in the capital gains tax rate would make the US’s combined corporate and capital gains tax rates among the very highest in the world.


Market Watch | Minimum-wage gains to have only minor bump on pay data
More than two million workers received raises last month, thanks to minimum-wage increases in 20 states. But economists don’t expect the bigger paychecks to lead overall wage measures to pop in the government’s monthly jobs report.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Wall Street Journal | U.S. Unemployment Claims Rise, but Strong Job Growth Still Seen
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week but remained at historically low levels consistent with solid job growth.
CNN Money | Obama jobs: More caregivers, servers and temps
Got a job while Obama was president? Then there's a good chance you are working in healthcare or food service or as a temp.

Wall Street Journal | What Do Job Seekers Want? ‘Hostess,’ ‘Truck Driver’ Among Fastest-Growing Searches
Job seekers are increasingly searching for positions at restaurants, child-care centers and behind the wheel, according to new data from job-search site
AEI | We need to reward work, not just make it more miserable to be unemployed or poor
One government program that many conservatives like — especially vs. the minimum wage — is the Earned Income Tax Credit, the federal subsidy for low-income, working households. It raises living standards by raising household income. What’s more, it provides a work incentive – incomes have been declining for those with only a high-school education or less — because it only applies to working households. It’s a program that should be both expanded and reformed.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Mercatus | Falling Deficits Don’t Mean It’s Time to Increase Spending
The Congressional Budget Office’s latest budget projections and economic outlook for the next 10 years puts the budget deficit for the current fiscal year (2015) at $468 billion, down from $483 billion in fiscal year 2014.
National Review | Obama’s ‘Mindless Austerity’
In announcing his $3.999 trillion budget proposal for FY 2016, President Obama said that he was putting an end to “mindless austerity” in federal spending. In response to which, one wants to ask, “What color is the sky on his planet?”
Real Clear Markets | Obama's Budget Kicks the Can Even Further Down the Road
This week President Obama released his $4 trillion budget for 2016, a mixed bag of new taxes and new programs and subsidies for the middle class. Last week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)-Washington's nonpartisan budget arbiter-released its most recent analysis of the economy and fiscal policy. The two documents provide an interesting comparison of political expediency and long term challenges, with the president focusing on short-term spending while CBO warns of a longer term fiscal crisis.
Forbes | Obama's Budget Proves Old People Are Bankrupting The Country
Are you worried about the deficit? Old people are responsible for it. Did the recession hurt your business, personal finances, or home value? Old people were a key cause of the housing bubble that led to the recession. Think the healthcare cost explosion is a big problem? Old people, again. As far as I know the elderly did not cause global warming, but they are indeed responsible for most of the financial difficulties that America has had over the last two decades.