Wednesday, February 18, 2015

General Economics

Market Watch | U.S. housing starts dip in January to 1.07 million annual rate
Construction on new U.S. homes dropped 2% in January to an annual rate of 1.07 million units, as heavy snowfall hindered builders in some regions such as the Midwest and Northeast. Permits also declined slightly but indicated that the pace of construction is likely to remain at or near current levels heading into the spring, according to Commerce Department data issued Wednesday.
Market Watch | U.S. producer prices tumble 0.8% in January on lower energy costs
U.S. wholesale prices posted a record 0.8% decline in January after an unprecedented drop in energy costs, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
Market Watch | Industrial production rises 0.2% in January
Industrial production rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in January, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.
Wall Street Journal | Americans Borrowing More, but Fissures Appear
Americans are for the most part taking on new loans carefully, yet a rise in late payments on two fast-growing types of debt—auto and student loans—suggest some consumers could be getting in over their heads.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Bloomberg | Greece Seeks Concessions in Later Loan Extension Request
Greece will submit its request for a six-month loan extension to the euro-area Thursday, a day later than originally planned, according to a government official.
Real Clear Markets | The U.S. Economic Recovery Still Has a Lot of Upside
Are we nearing full employment and will the Fed soon be tightening policy? The government's latest employment report was the best in many years. Payroll employment rose by over a million during the past three months, with strong job gains in the preliminary data for January and large upward revisions in the previous estimates for November and December. Based on this surge in labor input, it is a good bet that the preliminary estimate of the fourth quarter's GDP will be revised upward as well.
Economics 21 | Falling Oil Prices Yield a Barrel of Nonsense
Wait until next month, economists said. That's when consumers will spend their bonus savings from lower gas prices.
Market Watch | Why the U.S. will have to bail out Greece
Fighting has flared up again in the Ukraine. The Egyptians are sending soldiers into Libya as another North African state collapses into chaos. The militants of Islamic State are spreading their influence across the region. You’d think Barack Obama might have bigger foreign policy issues to worry about than a small state of 10 million people on the eastern edges of the Mediterranean.

Health Care

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Contra White House, Obamacare Exchanges Enroll Roughly 5 Million Uninsured, Not 11.4 Million
Last night, the White House tweeted that “about 11.4 million Americans are signed up for private health coverage” through Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. President Obama claims that this figure proves that his health law is working. But once you unravel the spin, what the latest numbers show is that the pace of enrollment in Obamacare’s exchanges has slowed down by more than half. If previous trends hold,  Obamacare exchanges have enrolled roughly 5 million previously uninsured individuals: a far cry from 11.4 million.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CNBC | Is a June rate hike coming? Traders say one thing, economists another
There's a major debate brewing in the financial markets, and it concerns the most important potential event of the year for stocks and bonds alike: the timing of a Federal Reserve rate hike.
Forbes | 18 Trillion Reasons Why Interest Rates Will Stay Low
The Federal Reserve has continued to announce its intention to begin raising its interest rates sometime this spring, yet the market remains skeptical. U.S. government 10 year bonds have risen about 40 basis points in the last two weeks, so the bond market might believe the Fed a little. However, 30 year fixed rate mortgage rates are at or near six month lows and seem to be heading lower. That mortgage lenders are willing to lock in low rates for 30 years suggests they don’t believe the Fed will raise rates, or that higher Fed rates will not lead to any particular increase in inflation or their cost of funds for the foreseeable future. Given that the Fed has been as explicit as ever in its history about its intentions, why are the markets so unsure about interest rates rising? There are 18 trillion reasons.

Wall Street Journal | Fed Minutes Will Show How “Patient” Debate is Evolving
Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s Jan. 27-28 policy meeting, to be released today, could reveal the contours of its discussion about forward guidance on interest rates.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | The New York Explanation For A Booming Jobs Market Without Booming Wages
An interesting little point being made here about the New York City jobs market. The city is adding jobs like billy-o but there doesn’t seem to be much movement in average wages.
Kauffman Foundation | State of Entrepreneurship: Mixed Indicators Prompt Call for Entrepreneurial Renewal
Venture capital and angel investing has surged, yet business creation remains slow, and access to capital is difficult for young companies. Despite these and other mixed indicators, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of entrepreneurship in the United States, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.


Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Forbes | Blessing Or Curse? The National Debt From The Founding Fathers To The Age Of Jackson
Libertarians love to talk about how far the United States has strayed from its liberal founding and beginnings. Perhaps nothing better illustrates this point than the national debt, which presently stands at a little more than $18 trillion. Surely, if the Founding Fathers were alive today, they would recoil in horror at how the federal government spends vast sums of money to perform a multitude of extra-constitutional functions.

AEIdeas | Is the 2014 farm bill reducing the federal budget deficit? Not exactly
Senator Stabenow (D-Mich) is currently the ranking member of the Senate Agricultural Committee and, in her previous role as chair, was a driving force in passing the 2014 farm bill. On Tuesday of this week, she announced that she would oppose any and all cuts to farm bill and farm subsidy spending during the forthcoming federal budget reconciliation process, essentially arguing that the House and Senate agricultural committees had already given at the office through spending cuts implemented in the 2014 farm bill.