Baum's View on Money
Happy Friday, everyone. Here's what I'm reading this morning. I hope you'll take a look, too.
Let the sun shine in.
The agenda at the Kansas City Federal Reserve's annual Jackson Hole symposium is one of the world's closely guarded secrets. I kid you not. The embargo on this year's conference -- the program, presenters and attendees -- was lifted Thursday evening. (It was actually broken 10 days ago when someone at Bank of America Merrill Lynch laid out the details in a note to clients.) For a central bank so focused on transparency, it's a bit silly to keep under wraps a conference that includes such market-moving events as a whitewater rafting trip through Snake River Canyon.
Rising by leaps and bounds
U.S. home prices in June posted their biggest year-on-year gain since April 2006, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's Home Price Index. The HPI rose in 47 states plus the District of Columbia in the second quarter, with Nevada, California and Arizona leading the charge, just as they did a decade ago. They also led the housing market collapse.
Help wanted: engineering skills a plus.
Yes, there are companies whose biggest problem is finding skilled workers. Just ask the gas drillers that are part of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Finding qualified talent and getting prospective employees to relocate "are the biggest challenges they face when it comes to hiring," according to the Pittsburgh Star Gazette.
America and its not-so-accidental exceptionalism.
The American Enterprise's James Pethokoukis looks at some of the claims that America's best days are past and that everything that can be invented has been invented. Nonsense, Pethokoukis says. American exceptionalism isn't a question of being at the right place at the right time, a nation that happened to be created at the time of great innovations. It was the other way around. "The West became a business-admiring civilization that began treating innovators -- and the creative destruction they unleashed -- with respect and dignity," he writes.
It takes $5 million to make the top 50.
They come to Washington to do good; they end up doing well. The Hill reveals the 50 wealthiest members of Congress in 2012, noting that the "chief inquisitor of President Obama's White House," Daryl Issa, is now Congress's richest man with $355 million. Here's how the list breaks down: 37 from the House, 13 from the Senate; 29 Republicans, 21 Democrats.
The money is on Summers…
Forget all the articles touting Larry Summers to become the next Fed chairman, and all the support for Janet Yellen from outside the Beltway. The bookies favor Summers, with online betting company Paddypower offering odds of 4/6 on Summers, against 11/10 on Yellen. (Jeffrey Sachs at 300/1, anyone?). At least the gambling community thinks that President Obama's efforts to promote a trusted adviser will pay off.
…but the clever folks are with Yellen.
The Wall Street Journal published a list of who's supporting whom in the Yellen v. Summers match for Fed chairman, among economists and Beltway types. As of now, Yellen has twice as many votes as Summers. There's no money on the line with this group, so you have to ask: Where is the smart money?
(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)