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Month: July 2009

The Known Unknown

The Known Unknown

When analyzing the U.S. economy's recovery prospects, one key factor that often comes into play is perhaps the most difficult to nail down: pent-up demand. At the moment, households are cutting back on discretionary spending and rebuilding their savings. A time will come when consumers start to feel more confident about broader economic conditions and ultimately open up their wallets, putting some of those saved-up funds to use. Economists often underestimate the strength of an economic recovery Read more [...]
The Human Cost of Cutting Medical Imaging

The Human Cost of Cutting Medical Imaging

This morning, patients and patient advocacy groups presented a letter to Congress calling for the rejection of proposed deep and arbitrary reimbursement cuts to medical imaging services. If passed, the cuts would be an unnecessary hindrance to the access of these important technologies, especially in rural communities. Medical imaging is an essential element of modern medicine—it can make a diagnosis early when treatment is easiest, save lives, and treat conditions. More importantly, medical Read more [...]
Summertime Blues

Summertime Blues

Last week I wrote columns on the possible "compromise" on the anti-democratic "Employee Free Choice Act" (HR 1409/S 560) and the proposed "millionaire" surtax designed to pay for health care reforms.  I'd like to say that all of the problems with EFCA and the health care bill have been worked out, but this is July, not April Fools Day.  Very little seems to have changed from last week, other than the fact that legislators are increasingly short-tempered Read more [...]
The Path to the Great Egress

The Path to the Great Egress

Instead of P.T. Barnum, now we have Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke trying to mark a clear path to the exits. With his semiannual testimony to Congress and an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Chairman Bernanke is going to great lengths to reassure market participants that the Fed will know when to put on the brakes and withdraw the trillions of dollars in liquidity from the system-so as to avoid either creating rampant inflation or sowing the seeds of yet another asset bubble. Some of Read more [...]
Hold on to Your Pants

Hold on to Your Pants

Think that the proposed "millionaire surtax" to help pay for health care reforms won't impact job growth?  Think again. Last week, the House Ways & Means Committee approved health care surtaxes which, when combined with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and reversion of the top federal tax rate on wages to 39.6% at the end of 2010, would mean a "significant tax hike" on business income in 2011.  The Tax Foundation recently issued a report that found that one-third Read more [...]
Let’s Make a Deal

Let’s Make a Deal

Compromise: 1. a settlement of differences by mutual concessions. 2. the result of such settlement. 3. something intermediate between different things. 4. an endangering, esp. of reputation; exposure to danger, suspicion, etc. 5. to settle by a compromise. 6. to make liable to danger, suspicion, scandal, etc. 7. to involve or affect unfavorably.  The Wall Street Journal recently published a great editorial on Senate discussions over the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” (HR 1409/S Read more [...]
Going BANANAs

Going BANANAs

The energy industry in this country has long struggled to find suitable locations for plants and resource development.  That's because for decades they've faced NIMBY -- community activists who put up roadblocks to ensure such efforts were "Not In My Back Yard."  But the politics of the 21st century has taken this activism to a new level.  Now we have BANANA -- nationwide activists that demand we "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. " Read more [...]
Nano standardization essential for reliability of special coatings

Nano standardization essential for reliability of special coatings

Nanotechnology has led to the introduction of novel coatings with water resistant surfaces that can help eliminate moisture condensation on high voltage insulators, that causes water droplets to simply roll off of them. This is a vital characteristic for these products because sparkover of an insulator is usually due to humidity and dirt on its surface. A standard method for determining the ability of such coatings to adequately prevent water film formation will Read more [...]
NEC 2008 – Half time report

NEC 2008 – Half time report

We are half way through the States adoption process for the 2008 National Electrical Code®.  This code cycle has seen opposition has come from the beleaguered home builders on two issues - expanded use of Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) and tamper proof outlets.  The home builders claim that the additional cost for these devices will hurt an already depressed industry.   The half time report is in with 28 states having completed their adoption processes.  For Read more [...]
An end to the housing market’s troubles? Not yet

An end to the housing market’s troubles? Not yet

New data on housing starts provide the best indication to date that homebuilding activity, at least for the single-family side of the equation, likely bottomed out at the beginning of this year. This marks a dramatic improvement from the veritable free-fall in construction activity recorded over the past three years; however, observers should not get too excited since it does not constitute the beginning of some big rebound in the housing market. Mortgage loan defaults and foreclosures continue to Read more [...]