European Unemployment: Lessons for the United States

Europe is a great place to visit – but don't try to find a job there. Unemployment averaged 8.8 percent in Europe last year, compared to 6.1 percent in the United States. [See Figure I.] Americans have been disappointed with a weak labor market in the last few years, but put this into perspective: Over the last 12 years, America's worst unemployment rate was better than Europe's best unemployment rate.

A Highly Productive Report

Just to show what a nerd I am, one of the things I look forward to every year at this time is the annual report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas . The latest is just out and once again was worth the wait.

Health Savings Accounts

As of January 1, 2004, 250 million nonelderly Americans now have access in principle to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), provided they are combined with catastrophic insurance. The idea behind HSAs is quite simple. Individuals should be able to manage some of their own health care dollars through accounts they own and control. They should be able to use these funds to pay expenses not paid by third-party insurance, including the cost of out-of-network doctors and diagnostic tests. They should be able to profit from being wise consumers of medical care by having account balances grow tax free and eventually be available for nonmedical purchases.

Energy Bill: Who Will Keep the Lights On?

Congress responded to the August 2003 northeastern electrical blackout by revising provisions of the comprehensive energy legislation with which it and the Administration had been grappling for two years. A portion of the bill focuses on improving electric power reliability and increasing competition. The comprehensive bill has been stalled in the Senate since December 2003; thus, there has been virtually no progress on reliability since the blackout. However, the energy bill provisions regarding siting authority for transmission lines, private nonutility investment in new lines, and repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) hold some hope of improving reliability.

Voting Your Fiscal Philosophy

When people vote for candidates, they are not just voting for an individual; they are voting for a party. I don't just mean in terms of control of the White House or Congress, but in a philosophical sense.

The Bush Tax Cut Kicks In

announcement that real gross domestic product grew at a 4.2% rate in the first quarter is good news. But one cannot help but feel that we should be doing better. The real gross domestic product normally grows much more rapidly in the early stages of economic expansions following a recession. One possible culprit for the less than hoped for growth may be the phasing-in of key elements of the 2001 tax cut.

Testimony – Wind Power: Not Green but Red

Energy is and will remain an important factor in the U.S.'s economic growth. While for much the 20th Century, America has enjoyed excess energy capacity in the transportation and utility sectors, this is no longer the case.