Barry is a Senior Economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, one of the most influential think tanks in America today.
The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. Topics include reforms in health care, taxes, Social Security, welfare, criminal justice, education and environmental regulation.
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Daily Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Daily Policy Digest
- Economic Growth Sluggish in 2015
- 29 May 2015 07:00:58 CDT -
Last month the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its first estimate of the growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the first quarter of 2015. According to the report, real GDP's annualized growth rate was only 0.2 percent. Some argue that this low estimate is due to an underlying methodological issue that results in a significant underestimate for the first quarter. However, several economic indicators have decelerated or declined over the last few months, indicating tepid growth in the first quarter.
What exactly is the debate over the recent GDP report? At issue are the BEA's seasonal adjusting methods. Most economic raw estimate features significant variation throughout the year due to typical changes in weather and holidays. In order to uncover those trends throughout the year, officials publish seasonally adjusted estimates, which account for these variations and generally are the headline figures in any report. Economists have noted that even after seasonal adjustment, the BEA's first quarter GDP growth estimates have been consistently lower than the rest of the year. This might suggest that the BEA has been underestimating first quarter growth.
Economists have found some troubling signs of slow growth:
- Total retail sales began to fall at the end of 2014 and continued to decline in 2015.
- There was a decline in consumer confidence during the beginning of 2015.
- Durable goods orders excluding defense and aircraft have been falling since summer 2014 and continued to decline into 2015.
- ISM's composite index of manufacturing growth, the PMI, has fallen significantly since last summer and continued to fall through the first quarter of 2015, representing a significant deceleration in manufacturing growth.
- Non-manufacturing was still growing at a decelerated rate at the beginning of 2015.
Source: Ben Gitis and Gordon Gray, "State of the Economic Recovery: 5 Economic Indicators to Watch," American Action Forum, May 27, 2005.
For more on Economic Issues:
- Older Entrepreneurs Leading the Way
- 29 May 2015 07:00:57 CDT -
Entrepreneurial activity—a measure of a country's dynamism and indicator of economic opportunity—can enhance economic growth through a number of channels.
- Entrepreneurship fosters innovation through the development and marketability of advanced, often groundbreaking products and services.
- Small businesses tend to be more capital intensive than larger ones, which accelerates the adaptation and diffusion of new technologies and deepens an economy's capital base.
- Starting and running one's own business often allows entrepreneurs to better contribute their talent to economic activities over a longer, sustained period of time than in wage and salary employment.
Since the 1990s, entrepreneurship has become especially pronounced among older households, with heads of household age 50 and older. At the same time, entrepreneurship among younger households has fallen, slowing overall entrepreneurship in the United States.
- Entrepreneurship has fallen among households younger than 50 years from 1989 to 2013, while it increased for older households during that period. Older entrepreneurship growth appears to be especially noticeable when comparing the years post-1998 with prior years—up to and including 1998—as older entrepreneurship became more widespread in the later years than before.
- Wealth has particularly grown among the subset of households from which entrepreneurs are increasingly found—white, married, college educated and 50 years old and older.
- The share of older entrepreneurs with substantial capital income—income that is greater than $5,000 in 2013 dollars—has gone up since the mid-1990s.
Policymakers interested in promoting increased entrepreneurship among older households—where economic pressures have been very noticeable—could consequently pursue two separate but not mutually exclusive paths.
- They could find ways to build wealth on a broader base than has been the case in the past, especially by emphasizing asset building among people of color, single women, and younger households.
- They could develop ways for older households interested in pursuing entrepreneurship to diversify their incomes.
Source: Christian E. Weller, "What Data on Older Households Tell Us About Wealth Inequality and Entrepreneurship Growth," Center for American Progress, May 27, 2015.
For more on Economic Issues:
- How India Can Address the Risk of Rising Oil Prices
- 29 May 2015 07:00:56 CDT -
After falling more than 60 percent from 2014 levels, the price of petroleum has risen sharply â€• from $46.7 per barrel in early February to $66.5 per barrel in early May. As a result, the price of India's crude basket, which is a mix of Oman, Dubai, and Brent crude, has gone up by 40 percent. In its latest Oil Market Report, however, the International Energy Agency says the price rose in April and May despite "persistently high global supply and continued stock build."
Gateway House has earlier said that energy prices will not worry India in 2015, barring a catastrophic event in a major oil producing country such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. Now, adverse developments in both these countries have indeed increased the chances of such an event.
- Potential disruptions of the oil supply come from the risk of dissatisfaction among the Saudi princes following the change in the line of succession, which confined kingship to one branch of the family.
- Potential disruptions come from disturbances of supply lines due to fighting in Yemen, with Iran intercepting merchant ships in the Persian Gulf.
- Potential disruptions come from the escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of which are large oil supplies, due to the Yemen conflict.
As an importer, India should buy oil futures to lock in low prices. This hedging can be done by the state-owned oil companies, because they understand the dynamics of the oil market. To enable hedging, the Ministry of Petroleum will have to create guidelines, such as the price levels at which hedging is to be done. Due to the limitations of financial hedging, India will also need to start buying oil fields to gain more control over the markets.
Source: Amit Bhandari, "How India Can Address the Risk of Rising Oil Prices," Gateway House, May 28 2015.
For more on Environment Issues:
- Cities, Not States, To Foot Incarceration Costs
- 29 May 2015 07:00:55 CDT -
When demonstrators took over some of the streets of Baltimore Tuesday morning, blocking traffic on roads leading into downtown, they were protesting a proposal to build a new jail for teenagers in the city. On May 13, Maryland's Board of Public Works approved plans to build a 60-bed, pre-trial detention center for teenagers charged with serious crimes so they would not have to share jail space with adults. The cost for construction alone will be nearly $30 million.
Funding for the new jail will come from the state budget. Mental-health services, continuing-education classes, vocational training, jail staff salaries and pensions still need to be covered, and the state does not always pick up those tabs. According to a new report released by the Vera Institute of Justice, "The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration," cities and counties often end up incurring some of those costs.
Jails have become "one of the most significant public safety expenditures a community makes every year," reads the report, with facilities across the nation currently holding 730,000 people â€• more than three times what they held in 1983.
The larger the jail, the more ancillary or marginal costs to foot. King County, Washington, ends up eating about 21.5 percent of costs for its Seattle jails that fall outside of the jail budget, while New York City absorbs more than 53 percent of those costs for its jails. How can cities minimize these costs? By reducing the inmate influx.
Tuesday, the MacArthur Foundation announced that it will award $150,000 grants to 20 cities that are creating plans to reduce their local jail populations. New York City, New Orleans and St. Louis County are among the recipients.
Brentin Mock, "What Incarceration Costs Cities," CityLab, May 27, 2015.
For more on Tax and Spending Issues:
- Innovation Teaching Methods Key to STEM Growth
- 28 May 2015 07:00:54 CDT -
It is a great time to be a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) major in Texas. Dallas made Forbes's list of the top 10 cities for STEM jobs and has the second highest annual median wage growth for STEM workers, while Houston and Austin were named the top two metropolitan areas for STEM professionals in a Wallet Hub report. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects Texas will have 758,000 STEM jobs by 2018, second only to California.
In order to fill the growing number of STEM openings, Texas must make a concerted effort to boost student engagement and performance in STEM subjects, starting with elementary school students. To achieve the improvements the state is seeking, schools across Texas must reevaluate not only what they teach, but how STEM subjects are taught.
At the Momentous School in Dallas, students are actively, enthusiastically engaged in learning math concepts and applying those concepts to solve problems — thanks to a state-of-the-art online curriculum and teacher/classroom structuring program called Reasoning Mind.
- Reasoning Mind students are engaged and on task 89 percent of the time, on average. Compared to a typical classroom, that works out to an additional 40 hours of math instruction each year when Reasoning Mind is used as a core curriculum.
- Some 67 percent of students using Reasoning Mind say that their enjoyment of mathematics increased as a result of the program.
Flexibility is the key to Reasoning Mind and programs like it. These systems deliver effective instruction for advanced students and remediation for struggling students, and they perform successfully in traditional school, after-school and home environments. They get students out of traditional lecture-based classroom desks. And, in the case of Reasoning Mind, put them in front of a computer screen interacting with a virtual genie to learn basic concepts, build upon previously mastered material, and get students thinking about how that material can be applied in other situations.
Source: Lloyd Bentsen IV, "Innovation Teaching Methods Key to STEM Growth," National Center for Policy Analysis, May 28, 2015.
For more on Education Issues:
- Obama Injects the Solar Industry with $32 Million
- 28 May 2015 07:00:53 CDT -
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $32 million funding program to support jobs and research in the solar energy sector on Tuesday.
Of that funding:
- Some $12 million will go toward projects to train solar technicians and provide information about solar power to "other professionals in related fields such as real estate, insurance, finance and fire and safety." The funding will go toward the Obama administration's goal of training 75,000 new solar workers by 2020.
- The department will also spend $15 million on projects to develop new concentrating solar power (CSP) collectors, which are the most costly component of a solar power system. At least seven projects will split the funding and research ways to bring down those costs in the future.
- The rest of the funding will go toward at least three projects to collect and share data on the solar industry, such as power production and financial information.
The DOE said the approach will help increase "transparency and fair pricing" in the market.
The funding comes from an Energy Department program called the SunShot Initiative, which is designed to boost solar power in the United States. The program has funded more than 350 projects in the last four years.
Source: David Henry, "Obama Administration Pumps $32M Into Solar Industry," The Hill, May 26, 2015.
For more on Environment Issues:
Health Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Consumer Driven Health Care
- Health Care Reform Tax Will Hurt Franchisees
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - When the employer mandates go into effect in 2014, many franchised businesses will be motivated to reduce the number of locations and move workers from full-time to part-time status...
REAL CLEAR MARKETS
- Saving Jobs from Health Reform's Harmful Regulations
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - If the rate of health care cost growth had not exceeded general inflation, a typical family would have had $545 more per month in spendable income instead of $95 -- a difference of $5,400 per year...
- Does Health Insurance and Seeing the Doctor Keep You Out of the Hospital?
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - Gaining health insurance and using more primary care services leads to more hospitalizations as a result of physicians' discretionary decisions regarding aggressive and intensive treatment...
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
- The Case for Competition in Medicare
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - A well-functioning marketplace would set in motion the forces needed to transform American medical care into a model of efficient patient-centered care...
- Potential Effect of Health Care Reform on Emergency Department Utilization Not Clear
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - In 2010, 71 percent of emergency physicians said that they expected emergency department visits to increase due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act...
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE
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