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CEPR News January 2012

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Thursday, 02 February 2012 10:45

The following highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.

CEPR on Haiti Two Years After the Quake
It’s been two years since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Through interviews, articles, Hill briefings and the Haiti Reconstruction and Relief Watch blog, CEPR marked the occasion by focusing attention on the ongoing humanitarian emergencies that hundreds of thousands struggle with daily. Half a million people remain homeless, more lack adequate sanitation, and the country grapples with a cholera epidemic the UN refuses to take responsibility for causing. CEPR has led the call – along with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and other organizations – for UN accountability for this and other criminal actions in Haiti. Co-director Mark Weisbrot was quoted in this ABC News article on the cholera epidemic, and he appeared in this ABC News video on sexual assaults by UN troops. He was also cited at length in thisUSA Today report on recovery efforts.

Mark and CEPR Research Assistant Jake Johnston contributed a chapter to the book Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake. Editor Mark Schuller discussed the book at a January 24th event CEPR sponsored along with TransAfrica, Teaching for Change, and Busboys and Poets. Jake was interviewed by FAIR’s syndicated radio show “Counterspin” about the situation in Haiti, and was cited in this Miami Herald report that was reprinted in dozens of U.S. newspapers. Mark took part in a panel discussion on Al Jazeera’s “Inside Story” that assessed the relief and recovery effort in Haiti. CEPR’s tracking of the aid and recovery situation was also cited in dozens more newspaper articles, blog posts, and radio reports.

CEPR participated in a series of congressional panels on Haiti— part of a Congressional Schedule of Events that took place January 24-25. On the 24th, Mark was a panelist at a briefing on the cholera outbreak sponsored by the offices of Rep. Frederica Wilson, Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Donald M. Payne, and Rep. Maxine Waters. Later that same day, Mark was a panelist at another briefing sponsored by the offices of Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Barbara Lee, and Rep. Donald M. Payne. That briefing followed the screening of excerpts of the documentary "Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?" which focuses on the status of relief efforts and steps towards increasing accountability of aid organizations. CEPR and the film were subsequently mentioned in this column by Clarence Page for the Chicago Tribune.

On January 25th, Mark participated in a briefing on Haiti’s political process, including the roles of the President, the Prime Minister, and members of Parliament; the various political parties in Parliament and who they represent; and the influence of various interest groups and stakeholders, including the wealthy elites, the business sector, and the impoverished majority. The briefing was moderated by Rep. Maxine Waters and was sponsored by Waters and Rep. Barbara Lee.


CEPR on Private Equity
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s previous role as head of Bain Capital has brought attention to the role of private equity in the economy, and the media has called on CEPR’s experts to weigh in on the debate. CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum (who is in the process of writing a book on private equity) appeared on NPR’s Diane Rehm show and Talk of the Nation. She was quoted in the Wall Street Journal and penned this article for the US News and World Report that was also picked up by CounterPunch. Eileen also wrote this CEPR blog post on private equity as well as this one on Blackrock. 

CEPR Co-director Dean Baker offered his take on private equity in this piece that appeared in the Kansas City Star and he discussed the issue on Kudlow and Company. He also wrote several posts for Beat the Press, here and here.

CEPR on the Long-Term Unemployed and Low-Wage Work
CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt released several papers in January. “Down and Out: Measuring Long-Term Hardship in the Labor Market,” by John and CEPR Research Assistant Janelle Jones, shows how the standard measure used to determine the number of long-term unemployed in the U.S. understates the extent of long-term hardship in the labor market. By using a broader definition of long-term unemployment that includes the underemployed and “discouraged workers,” the study finds that the long-term unemployed are about half of the population facing extended, sometimes permanent, spells without work. Janelle penned this post on the paper for the CEPR blog, and the paper was featured in this article in the Detroit News.  

John also wrote “Low-wage Lessons”, which cites five lessons on low-wage work, drawn from the recent experiences of the United States and other rich nations. The most important of these lessons is that countries with more "inclusive" labor-market institutions --high minimum wages, high rates of unionization, a generous safety net, and other similar features-- have a far smaller share of their population in low-wage jobs. The paper was mentioned in this post on the Century Foundation’s blog and in this post at ThinkProgress.


CEPR Data Bytes
CEPR released its annual “Union Byte” on January 27th. John Schmitt and Janelle Jones reported that union membership hit a plateau in 2011, after falling by almost 1.4 million workers between 2008 and 2010. Public sector declines in unionization were offset by gains in the private sector. CEPR’s report received good press coverage, including this Associated Press piece in USA Todaythis mention on the Today Show’s Life Inc. blog and this Wall Street Journal story. CEPR also released a Latin America Data Byte that focused on Brazil’s strong, but slowing, employment numbers.


CEPR at the AEA
Mark Weisbrot participated in a panel discussion on “The Economics of Regime Change” at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting, held in Chicago January 5 – 8. Mark’s presentation was titled “Report from the South American Spring.” Mark shared his thoughts on the meeting and the state of the profession in this Guardian column, which was picked up by Brad DeLong.

 
CEPR on the SOTU (And the State of the Republican Presidential Campaign)

Mark Weisbrot participated in a panel response for The Guardian on President Obama’s State of the Union Address. In this piece for Truthout, Dean Baker states that Obama’s agenda for manufacturing is missing an important factor – the overvalued dollar. On the Republican side, CEPR sent this letter to Newt Gingrich pointing out that privatizing Social Security might not be the best idea, and this one to Rick Santorum explaining that the elderly are NOT the wealthiest Americans, as Santorum had claimed.Dean was also mentioned in this piece in Reuters, critiquing the candidates plans for Social Security and Medicare. Mark discussed the upcoming election on Pacifica station WPFW in Washington, DC. And in this post on CEPR’s blog, International Communications Director Dan Beeton fact-checks the New York Times’ and Washington Post’s fact-checks on the GOP presidential debate Thursday night, on comments Rick Santorum made about Honduras.

CEPR on Right to Rent
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke endorsed CEPR’s Right to Rent plan! Well, not exactly, but the Fed did issue a white paper on the housing market that noted the advantage of turning some foreclosed properties into rentals. It also notes that some of the problems that arise with rentals more generally are avoided by letting the homeowner stay in their house as a renter. More information can be found in this piece in the Huffington Post that includes quotes from Dean Baker. Dean discussed the housing crisis and right to rent in this segment of PBS’s Nightly Business Report. 

CEPR New and Noteworthy
--In case you missed the news in December, Dean Baker’s blog Beat the Press was named the  “Most Valuable Economic News Source” in The Nation magazine’s Progressive Roll Call for 2011. According to The Nation, BTP “framed the debate to such an extent that media outlets, members of Congress and citizens came to rely on it as a resource and agenda-setting tool.” 

-- CEPR released a working paper titled “Pension Liabilities: Fear Tactics and Serious Policy”. The paper, written by Dean Baker and CEPR Economist David Rosnick, argues that pension funds should adopt a funding principle that is consistent with a return on holdings conditional on the state of the stock market. On January 19th, Dean took part in a briefing sponsored by the National Public Pension Coalition to address the unprecedented number of proposals in states to chip away at the foundations of America’s public pension systems. The event featured a recent retiree from Rhode Island whose story underscores the danger of pension-cutting plans in the states and from those in Congress by Senator Orrin Hatch.

--Dean issued this statement following the passage of New Jersey’s work sharing law. He wasinterviewed about the law on WBAI (starting at 32:30). 

-- CEPR Senior Research Associate Helene Jorgensen wrote this post on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for the CEPR blog. Helene finds that contrary to some claims, an analysis of the data shows that fracking has created very few jobs.

-- Dean was featured in this edition of “Econ Talk”.  And here is Dean chatting about unemployment on the Washington Post’s live Q & A feature “Conversations”. 

--On January 30th, CEPR co-sponsored an event with activist John de Graaf, who discussed and signed copies of his new book, "What's the Economy For, Anyway?: Why It's Time to Stop Chasing Growth and Start Pursuing Happiness," at the 14th and V Street Busboys and Poets.

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