Happy New Year. The celebrating is over. It's time to get back to work -- and your daily reads.
A real-world opportunity to test a theory.
Thirteen states are ringing in the New Year with an increase in the minimum wage, which has wide support in public polling. The latest additions bring to 21 the total number of states that have a minimum wage above the $7.25 national average. Some cities have enacted big increases, including a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac, which is outside Seattle. One thing is certain: Academics of both political persuasions will be closely monitoring the results, adjusting the numbers and reporting their findings. It's about time the 20-year old Krueger-Card study of the fast-food industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania had some data competition.
'Outrageously bad journalism' -- and wrong, too.
Economist James Hamilton responds to David Kocieniewski's hit job on two academics whose research found that speculation didn't drive up the prices of commodities. Kocieniewski claims that the authors were essentially bribed by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Wall St. banks to produce the desired results. Actually, speculation cuts both ways. Speculators profit from shorting commodities in the hopes of driving prices lower. Kocieniewski is guilty of omission as well. Hamilton sums it up best: "David Kocieniewski of the New York Times is guilty of some outrageously bad journalism in the form of a groundless ad hominem attack on the reputation of two professors for the sole purpose of reinforcing the prejudices of his misinformed readers."
Wessel offers surprises, including bidding us adieu.
The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel uses his last Capital column to reflect on the four biggest surprises in his nearly quarter-century of covering the economy from Washington. He is surprised that the middle class has done so poorly, that China has done so well, that 9/11 didn't have a longer-lasting impact and that the U.S. was so vulnerable to a financial shock. Another surprise: Wessel departs the Journal for the Brookings Institution.
More jobs, less work.
That's what economist Casey Mulligan envisions for 2014. Writing in the New York Times' Economix blog, Mulligan explains why he expects the average work week to decline: "because fiscal policy is now switching from penalizing part-time work to rewarding it." Part-time workers, previously denied health-care benefits by employers, can now sign up for Obamacare. At the same time, the health care law punishes employers for not providing health coverage for full-time workers, which is an incentive for them to opt for part-timers. File this under "unintended consequences" of Obamacare.
Everything you need to know about Obamacare.
The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff and Ezra Klein do the leg work so you don't have to. And they mean everything, including a cartoon from the Kaiser Family Foundation, enrollment numbers, a breakdown of premiums by state, pie charts, tables, you name it. A great resource. Thank you, Ezra and Sarah.
(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)