CEPR in the News April 2012

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Monday, 30 April 2012 15:45

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

CEPR on Low-Wage Workers
A recent CEPR paper on the low-wage labor force finds that the average low-wage worker today is both older and much better educated than in the past.  The paper’s authors, CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt and Research Assistant Janelle Jones, point out that the minimum wage has not kept pace with increases in workers’ educational levels. Their research was mentioned in this column by Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post (the article also cites John’s March issue brief on the minimum wage). John’s January paper, “Low-Wage Lessons”, was featured in this recent piece on CBSNews.com’s Money Watch. 

In this CEPR blog post, John and Janelle looked at the data by state, finding that this same educational upgrading is evident across all 51 states (including the District of Columbia). John and Janelle also wrote a blog post highlighting low-wage Latino workers, finding that while Latinos are over-represented among low-wage workers,  they are still only about one-fourth of the total in that wage range; and even after the increase in immigrants over the last three decades, Latinos are still much better educated today than they were in 1979. And CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum wrote about the impact of low-wage jobs on the economic recovery in this piece for U.S. News and World Report.


CEPR on the IMF and the World Bank
It’s spring in Washington, and that means IMF and World Bank meeting time. In conjunction with the Spring Meetings, CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot debated the Deputy Director of the European Department at the International Monetary Fund, Mahmood Pradhan, on the role of debt, fiscal policy, and the European Central Bank in the current European recession. This was the latest in a series of CEPR debates with senior IMF officials on austerity and alternatives to austerity in the eurozone crisis. Video of this latest debate is here; videos of past debates with IMF officials are here. Mark also discussed the IMF meetings with WBAI’s Wake Up Call (in New York). CEPR Co-director Dean Baker weighed in with his thoughts on the ECB in this Guardian op-ed.


CEPR Director of International Programs Deborah James took on both the IMF and the World Bank in this op-ed for Al Jazeera, arguing that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as the only multilateral economic agency focused on development, must be defended from rich-country efforts to undermine it. The op-ed was featured on UNCTAD’s website and Deborah was quoted in this article in the Gulf Times, this one in The Peninsula and this one in the Asia Times. Deborah traveled to Doha for the 13th meeting of UNCTAD from April 21 - April 26, where she spoke at several events alongside trade ministers and other high level government officials, civil society representatives (such as Jubilee South’s Lidy Nacpil) and others. Because of the efforts of Deborah and her colleagues from the Our World is Not For Sale Network and others, UNCTAD’s mandate to work on financial and related crises and to maintain policy space for economic development was preserved. Deborah explains the importance of this victory in this Huffington Post piece.

CEPR also welcomed the news that Jim Yong Kim will head the World Bank. Kim’s selection was made official on April 16th, prompting this response from Mark, who called Kim’s appointment a “rare event, historically” and noted that developing countries’ nomination of Jeffrey Sachs for the position had been instrumental in breaking open the selection process for the first time. Mark was quoted in this BBC World News report on Kim as saying that Kim, in contrast to past Bank presidents, “has spent most of his life trying to improve the lives of poor people.” Mark also discussed Kim and the other Bank president candidates on Aljazeera’s Inside Story.


CEPR on Latvia
While not officially part of the spring meetings, CEPR also hosted an event on Latvia. “Latvia's Recession and Recovery: Are There Lessons for the Eurozone?” featured Mark in a lively debate with Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

While Åslund argued that Latvia has had a successful recovery due to its practice of internal devaluation, despite experiencing some of the the worst losses of output and employment in any country since the Great Depression, Mark argued that in fact these outcomes represented a failure, and that alternatives should have been pursued. Video of the April 11th event can be found here.


CEPR on Social Security
CEPR released a paper, “The Impact on Inequality of Raising the Social Security Retirement Age” that examines the impact of an increase in the retirement age on various demographic groups. The research shows that Social Security wealth is a much larger share of wealth for the bottom four of the five groups. As a result, an increase in the retirement age would cause an increase in inequality. Fortune magazine senior editor Allan Sloan even linked to the paper in this piece on CNNMoney.

As CEPR explained in the recent Social Security Byte, the latest Social Security Trustees' report finds the projected shortfall in the financing of Social Security over the 75-year planning period is 2.67 percent of taxable earnings, compared with 2.22 percent last year. The largest factor in this change is the Trustees' assumptions regarding the current and future economy, which accounted for nearly half of the total change.

Dean took the usual suspects to task for misrepresenting the Trustee’s report. Here he is correcting misstatements made by NPR, CNNMoney and (not surprisingly) the Washington Post. (Visit CEPR’s Social Security Monitor blog for more insight and analysis.)


CEPR on the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit
CEPR’s latest paper, “First Time Underwater: The Impact of the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit” briefly outlines the impact of the homebuyer credit. The paper shows this was only temporary and actually resulted in luring millions of homebuyers into paying too much for their homes.

“While offering a tax credit to new homebuyers did lead to a jump in home sales, a big part of the story is that people who were thinking about buying in the next year or two simply bought earlier to take advantage of the credit,” said author Dean Baker. Dean also posted this piece in the Huffington Post.


CEPR on Haiti
On Wednesday April 18th Mark participated in a congressional briefing titled “Cholera and the Human Right to Health in Post-Earthquake Haiti.” The briefing examined U.S. and international efforts to address what has become the world’s worst active cholera epidemic. Panelists discussed what urgent measures are needed to contain the spread of the disease, as well as longer-term proposals for preventing cholera from becoming endemic to Haiti.

The video includes introductory remarks by U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and concluding remarks by U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), and presentations by experts from the Pan-American Health Organization, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Partners in Health, and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Following the briefing, Congresswoman Waters sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressing grave concern about the current political crisis in Haiti.  Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Congressman John Conyers also signed the Congresswoman’s letter.

CEPR’s Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog posted this piece showing data on public sector donor disbursements since the earthquake. Despite half-a-million quake survivors remaining homeless, the cholera epidemic (which is worsening with the onset of the rainy season), and urgent humanitarian needs such as clean drinking water and sanitation going unfulfilled, donor disbursements are actually slowing.


CEPR on the Pros and Cons of Austerity and Stimulus
Several CEPR staff members weighed in on the austerity debate. In this Guardian column, Mark wrote about “the rebellion against the self-inflicted harm of austerity” in Europe, while in this op-ed for U.S. News  and World Report, Eileen blames budget austerity for slow GDP growth here in the U.S. CEPR’s Domestic Communications Coordinator Alan Barber critiqued Paul Ryan’s budget in this CEPR blog post, countering Ryan’s claim that his budget is “the path to prosperity”. Dean also critiqued Representative Ryan’s budget (as well as the New York Times’ coverage) in this “Beat the Press” post. And Paul Krugman quoted Dean in this blog post on the stimulus.


CEPR on Health Care Costs

CEPR’s Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator shows that budget deficits will not rise uncontrollably in the future if the U.S. can get health care costs under control.  But if the U.S. fails to contain health care costs, then it will be almost impossible to prevent exploding future budget deficits.

A related infographic shows how much the U.S. would save in 10 years if we had the health care systems of Great Britain, Canada or Germany.  


CEPR New and Noteworthy
-- CEPR Domestic Intern Marie-Eve Augier contributed to the ongoing debate over college costs and student debt with this CEPR blog post on how student financial aid is not keeping pace with college costs, while CEPR Research Assistant Juan Antonio Montecino blogged about inequality in Latin America, Paul Krugman and CATO.

--Mark’s Guardian column on France’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon was picked up by France’s Marianne2 and was the publication’s 10th most-read story since January.

--Mark put Argentina’s decision to re-nationalize oil company YPF in non-hysterical context in comments to NPR, FAIR’s Counterspin and MarketWatch and he wrote about it in this column for The Guardian which was republished in Spanish by Argentine newspaper Página/12.

--Eileen and Dean both wrote about Citigroup's shareholders, who recently took advantage of the new "say-on-pay" provisions of the Dodd-Frank law to vote down CEO Vikram Pandit's $15 million pay package. Dean’s piece was in Truthout while Eileen’s was in U.S. News and World Report.

--Dean traveled to Oregon on April 9th to take part in the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics' public affairs speaker series titled "In the Shadows of the Great Recession: Recovery and Inequality." Dean was joined by University of Oregon Economist Mark Thoma. More information can be found on the event's website.

--Just in time for tax day, Dean discussed tax reform as part of a panel titled “Tax Equity: Paying Fair”. Other panelists at the April 11th event included Elspeth Gilmore of Resource Generation, Mike Lapham of the Responsible Wealth campaign and United for a Fair Economy, Chuck Marr of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice; and Rebecca Thiess of the Economic Policy Institute. The event was streamed live here.

-- On April 2nd, Dean took part in a panel discussion called "Occupy the Future" that was held in conjunction with the "Control the Corporation" conference at the Carnegie Institute of Washington.  The conference, organized by the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, included how people can work toward controlling corporations' impact on elections, slow privatization, create better-paying jobs and mobilize for the future.

--Dean was on Kudlow and Company talking about the dollar on April 3rd and he “Beat the Press” in this Real News interview from April 23rd. Dean was also on Wisconsin Public Radio, discussing Obama’s economic policies.

--CEPR Board Member and IPS Fellow Chuck Collins discussed and signed his new book about "How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It."  Dean moderated the event, which was held at Busboys & Poets in Washington DC on April 4, 2012. Co-sponsors included IPS’s Inequality and the Common Good and New Economy Working Group projects, Teaching for Change bookstore, Busboys & Poets, Faith & Money Network, Empower DC, Democracy Collaborative and United for A Fair Economy.

Tags: austerity | cholera | economy | Haiti | housing | imf | Latvia | low-wage workers | Social Security | stimulus | world bank