A Few Sunday Morning Reads

Niagara Falls: Some things never change, Carbon Upfront, Lloyd Alter. In 1882 Oscar Wilde noted that “Niagara will survive any criticism of mine. I must say this, however, that it is the first disappointment in the married life of many Americans who spend their honeymoon there.” (Calling it the second disappointment is a misquote) I recently visited with my daughter Emma’s family, and not much has changed since 1882, or at least since my kids were little. 

June 9, 2023, Letters from an American, Prof. Heather. At 3:00 today, Washington D.C., time, Special Counsel Jack Smith delivered a statement about the recently unsealed indictment charging former president Donald J. Trump on 37 counts of violating national security laws as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Ssssssssssssssssmoking, Bad Crow Review, Weldon Berger. It’s not that Honolulu doesn’t generate pollution; it’s just that typically, the breezes take it out to sea. I’m grateful. I wish all that leftover Covid money went to HEPA filters and air purifiers instead of cops and pickup trucks for cops, like it did here.

Could 6% to 7% 30-Year Mortgage Rates be the “New Normal?Calculated Rick Newsletter, Bill McBride. A key pitch, by real estate agents for home buyers right now, is that they will likely be able to refinance at a lower mortgage rate in a few years. The argument is that once the Federal Reserve has inflation back down to the 2% target, 30-mortgage rates will decline, perhaps to around 5% or lower. 

Ron DeSantis’ Crusade Against Campaign Finance Laws, levernews.com, Andrew Perez. Florida Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is working to harness the power of big money in open defiance of federal election laws — betting that no one will hold him accountable.

In a political era dominated by wealthy and often secret donors, the activities undertaken by DeSantis and his outside group allies still stand out — and could render what little remains of federal campaign finance laws as completely meaningless.

The Suit against Student Debt Relief Doesn’t Add Up: Flawed Claims of Legal Standing in Biden v. Nebraska, Roosevelt Institute, Authors. In August 2022, President Biden announced a student debt relief plan that would benefit over 43 million borrowers. But six Republican attorneys general sued to block this cancellation. In February 2023, they argued before the Supreme Court that should the president’s student debt relief proposal be enacted, Missouri’s student loan servicing company MOHELA—the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri—would lose financial revenue, thereby harming the state. However, our new analysis reveals this assertion of financial loss to be fundamentally false.

Homeownership Rate for Moderate-Income Households Hits Highest Level on Record, cepr.net, Dean Baker. That’s what the Census Bureau data for the first quarter of 2023 showed, in a report completely ignored by the media. While NPR was telling us that the homeownership rate reported in the 2020 Census hit its lowest level in half a century (this was the top of the hour news summary, no link), the data the Census Bureau puts out quarterly tell the opposite story.

Young people see better job opportunities, Economic Policy Institute, Authors. As of the latest data, the unemployment rate for young people is the lowest in 70 years. In part two of our series, we delve into young people’s working hours and employment by industry, compared with 2019 before the pandemic recession.

Labor Market Churn is Back to Normal, (employamerica.org, Preston Mui. The post-pandemic surge in job-hopping and quitting has essentially normalized. The quit rate averaged 2.7% in 2021, compared to 2.3% in 2019. Since then, the quit rate has remained historically elevated while gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels. In the last JOLTS release, the quit rate fell to 2.4%, well within the range of quit rates in 2019. The Fed should take this as a sign that the labor market has loosened significantly over the past year, and that further Fed action comes with increased downside labor market risks now that we’re back to pre-pandemic levels of turnover.

Why Biden’s Domestic Content Incentives Matter, Roosevelt Institute, Todd N. Tucker. Today, the Biden administration announced the latest pillar in its industrial policy strategy, this time on clean energy supply chains. In just the last few months, the White House and federal agencies have released announcements on subsidies for semiconductors, electric vehicles, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and more. Today’s guidance is significant, because it defines the conditions under which clean energy investors and producers under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) can get additional subsidies if their supply chains are “Made in America.”