James Pethokoukis

The internal contradictions of ObamaCare

October 26, 2009

At the heart of the economic case for U.S. healthcare reform is a simple comparison: Whereas America spends 16 percent of GDP on healthcare, the average across OECD countries was 8.9 percent, as of 2007.

Scary unemployment in metro areas

October 26, 2009

An analysis by IHS Global Insight looks at unemployment in major metro areas:

Looking ahead, payrolls will be rising in most metros for consecutive quarters a year from now, but the unemployment rate will have shown little improvement, as employment gains will not be sufficient to absorb enough job seekers.  A third of metro areas will have jobless rates in double digits in the fourth quarter of 2010, with 16 exceeding 15%.  … By the end of 2012, the jobless rate will still be above historic norms, but it will finally slip below 8% in more than half of metro areas.

Oil prices, inflation and a double-dip recession

October 26, 2009

Andy Xie paints a dire scenario:

Central banks around the world have released massive amounts of money in response to the current financial crisis … But the proposition that a weak economy means low inflation is false. The stagflation of the 1970s proves it.

Romer: Unemployment likely to remain “severely elevated”

October 22, 2009

Watch CEA chair Christina Romer manage voter expectations:

Consistent with the recent cyclical pattern, the unemployment rate is predicted to continue rising for two quarters following the resumption of GDP growth. Whether this happens and how high the unemployment rate eventually rises will obviously depend on the strength of the GDP rebound. …  With predicted growth right around two and a half percent for most of the next year and a half, movements in the unemployment rate either up or down are likely to be small. As a result, unemployment is likely to remain at its severely elevated level.

Thanks Washington! Why dollar weakness will continue

October 21, 2009

The great Andy Busch of BMO Capital Markets effortlessly explains the link between the current anemic state of the dollar and America’s terrible fiscal situation:

America’s Blade Runner economy

October 21, 2009

In the 1982 sci-fi film “Blade Runner,” it appears as if Japan is the world’s leading economy and culture. It is a cinematic portrayal of the future sketched by many economists in the 1980s who wanted America to adopt Japanese-style industrial policy. But America may yet have an economy that resembles Japan’s. This NY Times story looks at how Japan amassed such a huge national debt, twice the size of its economy:

WH econ adviser: Job market is really bad

October 20, 2009

Listened to an interesting talk today by Jared Bernstein, chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, at a New America think-tank conference on job creation. A few observations:

Healthcare reform effort stumbles over spending and taxes

October 16, 2009

The great Dan Clifton of Strategas Group nails the difficulties of paying for reform through spending cuts or tax hikes:

The story of the $1.4 trillion budget deficit for 2009

October 12, 2009

My pal Don Marron breaks it down:

A few days ago, CBO released its latest snapshot on the federal budget, documenting the remarkable challenges of fiscal 2009, which ended on September 30. The key phrase in the report is “in over 50 years” as in:

Study: Democratic healthcare reform could increase costs

October 12, 2009

America’s Health Insurance Plans, an insurance industry trade group, paid for this PricewaterhouseCoopers study that found Democratic healthcare reform would sharply raise the price of private healthcare insurance. The typical premium could rise by $4,000 by 2019. Here is the executive summary: