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Next Economy Notes - Economists Forecast A Solid 2012

Driving the discussion today, a survey of 50 top economists results in a prediction that our economy will grow faster than expected this year. Some key predictions:


•The economy will grow 2.5% this year vs. their 2.3% forecast three months ago.

•Employment gains averaging 185,000 new jobs a month through December, 29,000 more than economists forecast in January.

•Unemployment averaging 8% in the fourth quarter vs. 8.2% now.

•Regular gasoline at an average of $4 a gallon on July 4 and $3.80 on Election Day. Sunday's average was $3.86, according to AAA.

Of course, this all assumes a European country to be named later doesn't drag the global economy down the drain. This week's contestant: Spain

Politico asks Five Key Questions About the Economy.

The Economist notes that Mitt Romney is steering his economic policies rightward.

The Department of Commerce is fueling regional innovation.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 helped trigger the economic collapse. Four years later, do we know what really happened at Lehman Brothers? 60 Minutes investigates.

Finally, this headline from 2007 is pretty comical.




Next Economy Notes - Is The Recovery Faltering?

Driving the discussion today, the New York Times has a feature story that raises the specter of a potential  spring collapse for the recovery. 

National Journal has an important piece on America's increasing lack of faith in virtually every institution - mostly driven by the recession.

Many people assume that the industrial midwest too the brunt of the Great Recession, but the West Coast is home to all five cities that have double the national unemployment rate.

Speaking of the West Coast, California is currently in the throes of debating a major infrastucture project - high speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco. TPM covers what this means for the national debate.

We've written a decent bit about the correlation between volatility in housing prices and overall economic strength. Where does your city rank in Smart Money's list of cities with least realistic housing prices?

President Clinton continues to believe that clean energy and energy efficiency have tremendous potential for economic development - and encourages people to 'chill out - this stuff takes time.'

At the Next Economy Partnership Project, we're big fans of the Starbucks Create Jobs for USA project. We're also glad Starbucks has stopped coloring their drinks with pieces of insects.


Next Economy Notes - Gas Prices and Unemployment Down, Wind Capacity Up

More good news at the pump as gas prices continue to drop.

Why are prices dropping? Gasoline futures are down 6.3% from their high in March.

On the jobs front, the number of people applying for unemployment dropped slight last week.

How can we create more jobs? The wind industry says they're primed to make huge gains.

Many Americans feel that their skills are out of date and in need of some retooling. But how can you learn new skills in a down economy? Thanks to $16 million in venture capital, a new endevour called Coursera will allow you to take classes from Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan and Princeton for FREE.

In largely unrelated urban planning news, should DC's building height restriction be lifted? In my opinion, the answer is yes. Matthew Yglesias agrees with me.


Next Economy Notes - President Taking Jobs Message to Midwest

President Obama is talking jobs on the road in Ohio and Michigan today. 

Meanwhile, $4/gallon gasoline has resulted in the lowest gasoline consumption in a decade.

In sad clean energy news, domestic solar manufacturers are finding it tough to deal with European subsidies and low natural gas prices.

In happier clean energy news, Solar City and Tesla have been quietly working on a solar energy storage plan that could be a big deal.

Those of us in economic advocacy wait on pins and needles for the regular release of government data on the national unemployment rate and consumer prices. The Department of Labor issued new rules for the transmission of this data and reporters aren't happy.

Strangely, I wasn't named to Time's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Plenty of entrepreneurs on the list though. And, of course, who could be more influential than the backup quarterback for the New York Jets?

Next Economy Notes - The Men Behind the Inequality Argument

The Senate killed the Buffett Rule on Monday on a largely partisan 51-45 vote.

The New York Times has an interesting piece on the economists driving the inequality argument - and why the Buffett Rule is only the start.

From the Rose Garden this morning: the President will announce a plan to increase oversight on oil speculation - one of the causes of higher gas prices.

Retail sales exceeded expectations in March. Overall, retail sales are up 6.4% from the same quarter last year.




Next Economy Notes - Buffett Rule and Jobs

Washington is buzzing this week about the Buffett Rule. Meanwhile, normal people just want to find a job. Is there a connection between the Buffet Rule and job creation?

In case you missed it, the Department of Treasury came up with an interesting graphic depicting the depths of the financial crisis and the state of the economy.

Jared Bernstein has a great post on the fiscal cliff.

The consumer price index inched higher in March, largely due to rising gas prices. 

Politico has a list of the top ten political races tied to higher gas prices.

As we creep up on Earth Day (how could you forget?), the White House would like to remind you that economic growth and environmental protection aren't oppositional ideas.

Finally, looking for a growth industry? You should check out holographic reincarnation.



Next Economy Notes - New Jobless Claims

New unemployment claims are at the highest levels in 2 months. Some states fared better than others.

Meanwhile, foreclosures filings fell to their lowest levels since 2007 - the start of the real estate collapse. Although this seems encouraging, the drop in foreclosures is likely due to processing backlogs, not a reduction in distressed properties.

According to Pew, one of the pillars of the Next Economy - clean energy - saw record investment in 2011.

Paying for college is a significant burden for most families. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched a new web tool that allows families to compare total costs of attending various colleges and universities.

Are we transitioning to a cashless America faster than anticipated? According to new data, 43% of Americans have gone a week without spending cash. 

Finally, in honor of Opening Day, here's an exclusive photo of the latest delicacy at Nationals Park - the StrasBurger. Named in honor of the Nationals star player, the StrasBurger is eight (!) pounds of Americana.

Next Economy Notes - Fannie and Freddie Changing Tune

Thanks to new technology, the cost of offshore wind is decreasing.

Speaking of decreasing, here's another major story reinforcing the idea that gas prices may be on the way down.

Here's a chart that shows how volatile gas prices have been over the last few years - and the impact this volatility had on your wallet.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac entertain the possibility of forgiving mortgage debt for underwater borrowers. 

At the depths of the financial crisis, even people with good credit had a hard time getting access to loans. Is the banking industry returning to bad habits?



Next Economy Notes - Are Gas Prices and the Housing Market Stabilizing?

In a word, possibly.

As you saw in my colleague Clare's post earlier, some economists think gas prices may have already peaked for 2012.

If gas prices actually start to fall and housing prices start to stabilize, the long awaited recovery summer might actually happen.

Speaking of housing, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a new proposal to protect consumers in mortgage servicing. 

In the meantime, Starbucks is continuing to address the number one problem facing America: the need for new jobs.  Make sure you vote for the Opportunity Finance Network here.

Finally, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, we applaud Caine's Arcade.


Next Economy Notes April 9

Good morning and welcome to Next Economy Notes. I hope you enjoyed the holiday of your choosing over the weekend. 

Lots of spin in the aftermath of Friday's jobs report:

This analyst says the economy needs to add 176,000 jobs a month for unemployment to be under 8% by early November. Hmm, wonder why early November might be considered important?

The White House sent the following note out to a group of small business owners:

"This spring marks an anniversary of sorts: more than two years of job growth in America. Over the past 25 consecutive months, over 4.1 million private sector jobs have been created by businesses like yours. Over 600,000 jobs were added in the first quarter of this year alone. It is a story of an economic recovery. With 8 million jobs lost in the worst recession since the Great Depression, there is still much work left to do. But, thanks to you, this is an economic recovery steadily moving in the right direction."

However, the Wall Street may not be as optimistic. It's never good when the word 'dour' is in the headline.

Meanwhile, gas prices are poised to break $4/gallon as a national average this week. The cost of a gallon of gas has already risen 14% since February 1st.

The $4 barrier has long been seen as psychologically important to consumers. But is that still the case? According to this LA Times piece, the answer is sort of. Consumers are not happy with rising gas prices, but appear to have less intense feelings than they did 4 years ago. 

(As an editorial aside, your humble writer predicts public concern will soar once gas prices stabilize over $4. And if $5/gallon gasoline happens this summer, prepare for consumer armageddon.)

On a positive note, an analysis of the Department of Energy's renewable grant program indicates the effort created tens of thousands of jobs.

On an unrelated note, the passing of Mike Wallace has unearthed a treasure trove of tributes. This story is pretty incredible.

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