Economic Daily Outlook

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2012



Jobless claims fall, manufacturing holds up

Economic growth showed signs of becoming more self-sustaining as the number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing activity in the Northeast picked up this month.

But the impact of higher oil prices also was starting to be seen in data on Thursday. Producer prices racked up their biggest increase in five months in February, while manufacturers in New York state reported a surge in input costs in March.

OPINION: Time for a cut, cap & balance budget (Senators DeMint, Paul, Lee, Johnson, and Rubio)

The most important policy imperative in the world today is for the United States to balance its budget. Though the reasons we must do so are economic, the reasons we should are fundamentally moral.

Everything our republic means to our citizens, and everything America means to the world – friend and foe alike – depends on our ability to pay our bills and honor our debts.



CFTC Targets Rapid Trades

A top U.S. regulator said his agency plans to widen day-to-day monitoring of the commodities and futures markets, targeting the high-speed trading firms that are a growing force.

Instead of just policing completed futures trades, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will seek to watch the fleeting buy and sell orders that increasingly influence the market, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said in an interview.

Scrap Over Easing IPO Rules

President Barack Obama likes it. House Republicans passed it. And now it is steaming through the Senate.

But buried within a bill pitched as way to boost jobs is a provision designed to ease the way for small companies going public, and the concept is generating growing opposition from a coalition of regulators and investors. They are mounting a last-ditch effort to scale it back.



Obama shifts healthcare defense

The Obama administration has shifted its legal arguments as it prepares to defend the president’s healthcare law before the Supreme Court.

Written briefs in the landmark case increasingly have focused on a part of the Constitution that didn’t get much attention in lower courts.



Oil, gas data fuel new arguments

The latest federal data on oil and gas production offer ammunition to both the White House and its critics on whether the Obama administration is out to squelch American-bred energy.

The numbers were both up and down.

OPINION: Natural Born Drillers (Paul Krugman)

To be a modern Republican in good standing, you have to believe — or pretend to believe — in two miracle cures for whatever ails the economy: more tax cuts for the rich and more drilling for oil. And with prices at the pump on the rise, so is the chant of “Drill, baby, drill.” More and more, Republicans are telling us that gasoline would be cheap and jobs plentiful if only we would stop protecting the environment and let energy companies do whatever they want.



Many teacher pension funds underfunded

As a new generation of teachers replaces retiring baby boomers, financially strapped states face a quandary – what to do about teacher pensions.

A majority of states’ teacher retirement funds are underfunded, some significantly below rates considered solvent, according to a recent analysis by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a research and policy group that seeks to improve the quality of teachers. The situation has stoked political fights in statehouses across the country as legislators weigh options such as moving teachers from a traditional defined benefit pension to a 401(k)-style plan, raising the retirement age or making teachers wait a decade to be vested in their plans.



Specialists in Rare Earths Say a Trade Case Against China May Be Too Late

Even as the United States, the European Union and Japan jointly filed a trade case Tuesday against China over its export restrictions on strategic rare earth metals, many specialists could not help wondering whether it was too little and too late for Western and Japanese manufacturers.

President Obama heralded the case as a landmark when he announced it at the White House on Tuesday morning, signaling that the United States and its allies would require China to play by international trade rules.

Karzai Calls on U.S. to Pull Back as Taliban Cancel Talks

President Hamid Karzai insisted Thursday that the United States confine its troops to major bases in Afghanistan by next year as the Taliban announced that they were suspending peace talks with the Americans, both of which served to complicate the Obama administration’s plans for an orderly exit from the country.

Mr. Karzai’s abrupt planning shift was at odds with a pledge offered just hours earlier by President Obama to stick to a 2014 withdrawal schedule for troops in Afghanistan. It also ran up against the Pentagon’s stark assessment that Afghan security forces were not yet ready to take over control of the country.

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