Friday, June 19, 2015

GOP bill would repeal federal ethanol mandate

From The Hill

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A new Republican bill introduced Tuesday would completely repeal the federal mandate to blend ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply.
Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) legislation would completely do away with the renewable fuel standard, which first took effect in 2005 and now requires increasing levels of ethanol and biodiesel to be put into traditional fossil fuels.
The mandate invites frequent criticism from Republicans, the oil industry and sectors that complain the demand it creates for corn ethanol increases agricultural prices.
“Workers, refiners, producers, farmers and ranchers across the country are affected by the renewable fuel standard,” Cassidy said in a statement. “More mandates mean less jobs. It means families are paying more for gas and groceries.”
Cassidy represents Louisiana, one of the largest states in terms of fuel refining capacity. Refiners say that buying ethanol or fuel credits increases their prices, and they must pass those costs onto consumers.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has had trouble keeping up with the annual volume mandates amid a decrease in fuel use. The agency proposed mandate levels for 2014 through 2016 last month.
The proposal would increase ethanol levels, though not to the goals set out in the law, leading to criticisms from both supporters and opponents of the mandate.
“American energy production is increasing and fuel efficient technologies are improving,” Cassidy said. “Our workers need policies that help move our energy, farming and manufacturing industries forward — that starts by repealing the RFS.”
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have sponsored multiple legislative attempts at reforming the law by removing the ethanol mandate, but leaving other provisions, such as those for biodiesel.

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to visualize 14.5 trillion dollars in Federal Debt

This image is in one hundred dollar bills...

GDP Charts from

Drivers of Quarterly GDP Growth

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Q2 2014 GDP

U.S. GDP Grew 4.6% In Second Quarter 2014, Up From Earlier Estimates

On Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its third estimate of real gross domestic product for the second quarter of 2014 — covering April, May and June of this year. The release showed output in the U.S. increasing at an annual rate of 4.6%. This is relative to the first quarter when real GDP declined a sharp 2.1%.
The revision is up from BEA’s 4.2% second estimate released last month as well as its 4% advance estimate out in July. The revision, BEA said in a release, was largely due to a larger than previously estimated increase in nonresidential fixed investment and exports. Of the revision the BEA wrote, “The general picture of economic growth remains the same” as when it released the second estimate.
The 4.6% growth in real GDP reflected growing personal consumption, private inventory investment, exports, both residential and nonresidential fixed investment, as well as local government spending. The gains were partially offset by an increase in imports, which negatively impact GDP, and a 0.9% decline in federal government expenditures.
“Given the partial indicators in between the second and third estimate this was broadly anticipated but that doesn’t dull the good news,” Jeremy Lawson chief economist at Standard Life Investments. He also noted that consensus was for the upward revision to be driven by growth in personal consumption but the real driver was fixed business investments with 9.7% growth. This, Lawson says, is a strong sign for future growth and critical for productivity. At the same time the 2.5% personal consumption growth was slightly lower than anticipated but “not a disappointment.”
The price index for gross domestic purchases — which measures prices paid by U.S. residents — increased 2%, up slightly from the prior estimate and compared to 1.4% growth in the first quarter. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 2.5%, keeping with the second estimate and up from the 1.2% increase in the first quarter.
The BEA now estimates second quarter corporate profits increased $164.1 billion, compared to a $201.7 billion decrease in the first quarter. Taxes on corporate income increased $45.7 billion in the second quarter, compared with an increase of $66.9 billion in the first.
The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite were all in the green following the pre-market release pushing higher upward momentum seen earlier in the day.
BEA — a division of the Department of Commerce – will release its advance estimate of Q3 GDP estimate on Thursday, October 30.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One in Five U.S. Workers Laid Off in Last Five Years, Report Says

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One in Five U.S. Workers Laid Off in Last Five Years, Report Says

One in five U.S. workers, nearly 30 million people, say they were laid off from their jobs in the last five years, according to a new survey that highlights lasting scars from the spike in U.S. long-term unemployment following the last recession.
While the extent of long-term joblessness has been discussed widely, including by top Federal Reserve officials, the survey from the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University could add fuel to the debate over how much of the problem can be dealt with through better economic policy.
The report finds that losing one’s job, even for a short period, can be more than just a temporary setback.
“Laid-off workers who found another job seldom improved their financial situation,” the report said. “Two-thirds said their new jobs either paid less than their previous one (46%) or paid the same (21%).”
Just a quarter of laid-off workers say their next job was a step up from their last. One in five workers laid off during the preceding five-year period never found another job. And some two-thirds of adults in the Rutgers survey, including those who kept their jobs, said the recession a negative impact on their standard of living.
This deterioration in household finances has led to a broad reassessment of how long Americans will need to keep working in order to survive as they get older. Half of 45- to 59-year olds said they now expect to retire later than they had planned.
U.S. long-term unemployment has been falling, but it remains quite elevated by historical standards.
The problem cuts across income brackets and educational attainment, the survey found.
“Long-term unemployed workers are represented in all age categories, educational levels, regions of the nation, and income strata,” the survey said.

The Effects of Benefits on Unemployment and Labor Force Participation

The Federal Reserve Board has released the linked research paper analyzing the effects of extended unemployment benefits on the unemployment rate and labor force participation.