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March 26, 2006
Odds And Ends
Another quarter begins at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and I have once again cleverly fallen behind on my reading, giving me the excuse to introduce some of my favorite weblogs to new students, via this review of things I should have talked about last week.
First things first, the week ended with economic news that was mixed, at best. Kash at Angry Bear reads the durable goods reports and concludes (fairly, I think) that business investment spending is still short of spectacular. On the other hand, at The Nattering Naybob Chronicles, Mr. Naybob is able to look on the bright side: "Both [the durable goods and house sales] reports eased inflation fears and bond yield dropped."
With respect to the real estate news, Calculated Risk, a consistently fine go-to source on the housing market, has the latest on home mortgage applications (down slightly), existing home sales (up, but perhaps not the best indicator), and new home sales (a better indicator, and coming in "very weak".) CR also has a handy chart, mapping the pattern of home sales in recessions. At the Big Picture, Barry Ritholtz opines: "The [Real Estate] market has dropped from white hot to red hot to mid-plateau." Calculated Risk says "The sky may not be falling, but... housing sales are clearly trending down." Captain Capitalism, however, is not cheered by that prognosis, and Michael Shedlock pores over the Calculated Risk pictures, to find that his disposition is soured as well. ElectEcon finds a prediction that things are going to get ugly fast.
For those who simply must have more housing indicators to watch, Daniel Gross bears good news, from Standard & Poor's. For those who just can't get enough detail on economic data period, Mark Thoma has more at Economist's View.
Speaking of data, a nice summary of U.S. wealth as reported in the Federal Reserve's Flow of Funds can be found at Angry Bear. (Although I don't necessarily endorse the conclusions, you might also enjoy the pictures provided at Economic Dreams - Economic Nightmares.)
Last week I (sort of) came to the rescue of the Consumer Price Index. Barry Ritholtz (again) counter punches, with a Wall Street Journal survey of readers indicating the vast majority don't think very highly of the Consumer Price Index, but Russell Roberts effectively (in my view) defends the beleaguered index, at Cafe Hayek.
Mark also relays the crux of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech on the yield curve. Meanwhile, the inverted yield curve watch continues, at The Capital Spectator.
Shifting to the fiscal side of the government house, Kash breaks down the sources of federal spending growth in the United States over the past five years. The guys at Angry Bear have had several useful, even if a bit partisan, posts on the subject in the recent past -- here, here, here, here, and here. Gary Becker and Richard Posner provide some much needed perspective on how to think about the build-up in defense spending.
In other legislative news, Andrew Chamberlain at Tax Policy Blog indicates that tax reform may not be dead just yet (good), and at Vox Baby, Andrew Samwick reports on the progress of pension reform (decidedly not good).
David Weman at A Few Euros More gives us the heads up on an item (from the Guardian Unlimited (U.K.) blog) bemoaning the rising tide of protectionism (among countries, including the U.S., that really ought to know better). The Skeptical Speculator concurs that "protectionism looms." Asia Pundit reminds us that, in the United States, the impulse is bipartisan (and Sun Bin channels Stephen Roach's comments on the subject). William Polley deems it "Nothing if not predictable." Mark Thoma provides an extended commentary from the Financial Times on the dangers of "Dobbism" (as in Lou). Daniel Drezner, however, has better news. Brad DeLong takes notice of a Alan Blinder's sometimes less charitable view of trade and globalization, to which Arnold Kling replies -- here and here.
Steve Antler (of EconoPundit) makes the connection from trade protectionism to immigration reform. Russell Roberts is even less tolerant of the anti-immigration argument. So is Arnold Kling (at EconLog). EurActiv reports on how the EU is attempting to deal with its own immigration questions. The New Economist provides a glimpse of research suggesting that outsourcing explains about 28 percent of the growth in the wage gap between high- and low-skilled labor between 1980 and 1999.
Continuing with the international theme, Brad Setser thinks both sides are at fault in the ongoing tensions over Chinese exchange rate policies. He also has terrific coverage of Larry Summers' must-read views on the current state of global financial markets and capital flows. Mark Thoma notes an article on the relationship between exchange rate policies and trade gaps and a summary of research on foreign direct investment. Steve Antler suggests an explanation for "why the dollar still reigns". Barry Ritholtz is pretty sure the answer is not Dark Matter. Menzie Chinn, writing at Econbrowser, is even less convinced. (He follows up that post with a very nice discussion of "purchasing power parity." Don't worry if you don't know what that means -- Menzie will fill you in.)
Speaking of China, Daniel Gross carries a story from the New York Times on the development race between China and India, the latter a country that I think gets far less attention than it deserves. (Lest there is any confusion, I mean positive attention.) Interestingly, Toni Straka at The Prudent Investor -- who unfailingly does not ignore India -- reports that India is about to float its currency and remove foreign exchange controls.
About Economics has a macro-relevant post on the, increasingly quaint, problem of the so-called zero nominal interest rate bound. Digging even further into the history of monetary theory, Jane Galt ruminates on "free money." In the some-think-it-matters-I-don't category, The Capital Spectator comments on the retirement of M3. So does Tim Iacono. That makes the graphs at Economist's View on M3 velocity -- explained here -- somewhat obsolete, but don't worry -- there is still M1 and M2 to absorb your attention.
UPDATE: Oh yeah -- Tyler Cowen has a new gig at the New York Times.
SPECIAL BRAIN-LOCK UPDATE: Above I hat-tipped A Fistful of Euro's David Weman for a Guardian article "bemoaning the rising tide of protectionism" (my words). Unfortunately, the Guardian article that does the bemoaning is not the one David cites. I had in mind an earlier article by James Surowiecki. David was pointing to another article, by Daniel Davies, arguing that capital controls do not count as protectionism. Double hat-tip to David for keeping me on the straight and narrow. (Oh, and by the way -- I'm with Surowiecki.)
March 26, 2006 in Asia, Data Releases, Deficits, Europe, Exchange Rates and the Dollar, Federal Debt and Deficits, Housing, Inflation, Interest Rates, Labor Markets, Saving, Capital, and Investment, Taxes, This, That, and the Other, Trade , Trade Deficit | Permalink
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