WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2012
As Home Rents Head Higher, Owning Regains Its Appeal
Climbing rents for apartments are combining with a continued decline in home prices to push once-reluctant home buyers into finally taking the plunge, say economists and real-estate agents, helping what appears to be a good start to the housing industry’s all-important spring selling season.
Although increased buying activity from investors and second-home purchasers are also factors behind the recent pickup in home sales, real-estate agents say they are fielding more calls from anxious tenants complaining about rising rents.
Fed Holds Fire on Stimulus
The Fed is in no hurry to launch new measures to boost economic growth, minutes from the central bank’s most recent meeting showed, disappointing investors eager for more stimulus.
Among the hints dropped in minutes of the Fed’s March 13 policy gathering, Federal Reserve staff concluded that the U.S. economy is a little more susceptible to inflation than previously thought. That and other signals suggested that another round of bond buying by the Fed to push down long-term interest rates isn’t imminent.
Regulators Finalize Rule to Identify Risky Nonbank Firms
More than a year and a half after Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act, regulators finalized a critical rule Tuesday detailing how they will identify nonbank financial firms that pose a threat to the system.
Members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, an interagency group headed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, approved the rule after a brief public debate.
Doctor Panels Recommend Fewer Tests for Patients
In a move likely to alter treatment standards in hospitals and doctors’ offices nationwide, a group of nine medical specialty boards plans to recommend on Wednesday that doctors perform 45 common tests and procedures less often, and to urge patients to question these services if they are offered. Eight other specialty boards are preparing to follow suit with additional lists of procedures their members should perform far less often.
The recommendations represent an unusually frank acknowledgment by physicians that many profitable tests and procedures are performed unnecessarily and may harm patients. By some estimates, unnecessary treatment constitutes one-third of medical spending in the United States.
Obama: Cap-and-trade was a Republican idea
President Obama reminded Republicans Tuesday that cap-and-trade has GOP roots in a rare public reference to the embattled environmental policy.
“Cap-and-trade was originally proposed by conservatives and Republicans as a market-based solution to solving environmental problems,” Obama said during a fiery speech at a luncheon hosted by The Associated Press.
Senate Dems shy from test on energy
Some Senate Democrats doubt their leaders will put energy legislation on the Senate floor again before the election for fear it could turn into a messy battle that could hurt incumbents.
Legislation to repeal tax breaks and royalty relief for oil and gas companies that failed to get cloture Thursday could be the last energy bill to reach the floor before the election, even though the price of gas is becoming a hot political issue as it remains just short of $4 per gallon for regular.
Runaway Student Loan Debt Jeopardizes Economic Recovery
The federal student loan program seemed like a great idea back in 1965: Borrow to go to college now, pay it back later when you have a job.
But many borrowers these days are close to flunking out, tripped up by painful real-life lessons in math and economics.
Surging above $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto-loan debt. This debt explosion jeopardizes the fragile recovery, increases the burden on taxpayers and possibly sets the stage for a new economic crisis.
Deal Close on Night Raids, U.S. and Afghan Officials Say
After years of insisting that American forces end covert nighttime raids on Afghan homes, President Hamid Karzai’s government was close to completing a deal that would give the Afghan authorities legal oversight of the raids, while allowing American forces to retain a guiding role in conducting them, officials from both countries said Tuesday.
The night raids’ deep unpopularity with the Afghan public has long put Mr. Karzai at odds with his American backers, who say the operations are among the most effective tools they have to combat the Taliban.