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What We Read Today 14 March 2014

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

  • Americans Stick With Obamacare As Opposition Burns Bright (Mike Dorning, Health Insurance Exchange) Support for Obamacare is increasing with 64% supporting it outright or saying it needs only small changes. However, 54% are unhappy with President Obama's handling of the implementation of the new law. That is better than the 60% disapproval in December. A majority (51%) want "small modifications" to the law and 13% support it as is. Total repeal is favored by 34% of the public. According to Wikipedia 29% of the electorate is registered Republican so it can not be only Republicans who oppose the law.

Obamacare opponents predicted early on that insurance co-ops created by the law would fail, and that much of the $2.1 billion they were loaned to get started would be lost. Instead, the 23 co-ops that now exist nationally have enrolled about 300,000 people in health plans by combining low premiums with a certain homespun appeal, according to company executives.

  • With Deadline Looming, All Eyes on Young Enrollees (Bruce Shutan, Health Insurance Exchange) The ACA and the plans offered by insurance companies require a broad demographic of enrollees. If only older persons and the sick enroll then the costs are higher than planned and the income is missing the anticipated (lower) premiums from younger and healthier people. In insurance language that is called "adverse selection".

The articles above are late additions to the comprehensive coverage of ACA (Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare) 'behind the wall' two days ago.

Today we discuss 10 more articles 'behind the wall'. The first four address the U.S housing market.

  • The Monthly Mortgage Payment Vs The Monthly Rental Payment Since 1981 (Sam Ro, Business Insider) For the first time in decades mortgage monthly payments compare favorably with renting. However, owning has more expense than mortgage payments: property insurance, property taxes and property maintenance are all covered by landlords and therefore included in rent but not in a mortgage interest and principal payments. So it is likely that on a pure cash flow basis renting is still cheaper than buying.


  • Reminder HAMP homeowners: Your mortgage rate will increase (Jacob Gaffney, HousingWire) Interest rate reductions under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMO) were temporary and start to return to market rates after five years. Rates adjust yearly up to 1% pa until the contract rate is restored for the remaining life of the mortgage.
  • Popping the Housing Bubbly Theory (Mark Fleming, CoreLogic) Author says houses are still undervalued. His position is based on historic house price to income levels ratios. He doesn't address how much of that income is encumbered by debt compared to past markets and he doesn't address the fact that renting is still cheaper than owning (see third article above).



  • Where time comes from (Flowing Data) "Time is a core of myths that lets us most easily understand the evolution of the universe." This video is "nice and nerdy".

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