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CEPR in the NEWS May 2012

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Monday, 04 June 2012 10:28

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

CEPR on Work Sharing
CEPR Co-director Dean Baker teamed up with the American Enterprise Institute's Kevin Hassett to pen this Sunday op-ed on the benefits of work sharing for the New York Times.  Dean appeared with Hassett on PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to discuss the issue.  Dean has written extensively on work sharing as a means to address continuing long-term unemployment, most recently in this issue brief co-written with CEPR’s Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo that looks at how work-sharing provisions signed into law by President Obama in February 2012 as part of the Middle Class Relief and Job Creation Act could help states reduce their unemployment rates and also save $1.7billion per year.

Senator Herb Kohl referred to the op-ed in his opening statement at a May 15th Aging Committee hearing titled "Missed by the Recovery: Solving the Long-Term Unemployment Crisis for Older Workers": “And as a bipartisan opinion piece in the New York Times over the weekend stated, this problem “nothing short of a national emergency.”  Work sharing was also featured in this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and this one in the West Virginia Gazette.


CEPR on Jamaica
CEPR’s recent release, “Update on the Jamaican Economy,” by CEPR Research Assistants Jake Johnston and Juan Antonio Montecino, looks at Jamaica’s stalled agreement with the IMF, its economic performance over the past year and examines its persistently high debt burden. The paper argues that Jamaica’s economic performance and development prospects have been seriously damaged by an unsustainable debt burden, with the economy stagnating for decades.  The paper updates a similar report released in May 2011.


The paper highlights the fact that Jamaica has the highest interest payments on its debt of any country in the world, which contributed to the great deal of press attention the paper received.  The paper was the focus of articles in the Jamaica Gleaner (here and here), Jamaica Observer and other outlets, and Jake and Juan also appeared on several of Jamaica’s top news radio programs. Internationally, the paper was covered by the Associated Press, Inter Press Service, and other outlets.

Jake underscored some of the paper’s key points in an op-ed for the Caribbean Journal as well.


CEPR on Unions of the States
In a newly released issue brief, CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt and former Research Intern Marie-Eve Augier give an overview of the size and basic demographics of the unionized workforce in each state. The brief is a partial update of some of the numbers that appeared in a 2010 CEPR report called “The Unions of the States.”  In a related post on the CEPR blog, John and Marie-Eve  noted that in 2011, 13.3 percent of the total U.S. workforce was unionized.  New York State had the highest unionization rate, at 26.4 percent, followed closely by Alaska (24.3 percent) and Hawaii (24.0 percent). At the other end of the spectrum were Virginia (5.3 percent), Georgia (5.1 percent) and North Carolina (4.4 percent).


CEPR on Ecuador
CEPR released an update of its 2009 paper on the Ecuadoran economy. The latest paper, “Ecuador’s Economy Since 2007” by CEPR Research Assistant Rebecca Ray and Program Assistant Sara Kozameh, examines economic, health, budget and other data since President Rafael Correa took office at the beginning of 2007. The paper shows that Ecuador has experienced strong progress in key economic, social and health indicators since 2007, with a dramatic rebound from the global recession since 2009. CNN en español interviewed Rebecca about the report in a TV interview that attracted a good deal of attention in Ecuador, and was subsequently interviewed by Ecuadorian TV outlets about the paper’s conclusions as well.


CEPR on the Long-Term Unemployed
Versions of two CEPR reports on long-term unemployment, written by John Schmitt and CEPR Research Assistant Janelle Jones and released earlier this year, were published in the the most recent issues of Challenge and New Labor Forum. In  Challenge, “Down and Out: Measuring Long-Term Hardship in the Labor Market” (behind a paywall here) proposes several ways to rethink our understanding of long-term unemployment. In New LaborForum, “America’s “New Class”: A Profile of the Long-Term Unemployed” (behind a paywall here) uses the framework from the Challenge piece to paint a demographic portrait of those still suffering from long-term unemployment in the labor market.

The Challenge article is based on this January 2012 CEPR briefing paper. The New Labor Forum piece is based on this March 2012 CEPR briefing paper.

John was quoted in this excellent Guardian story on long-term unemployment in the U.S.


CEPR on Haiti
The New York Times published an editorial on Haiti’s cholera epidemic, notably echoing CEPR’s view that “The United Nations bears heavy responsibility for the outbreak: its own peacekeepers introduced the disease through sewage leaks at one their encampments” and calling for the U.N. and the international community to up the estimated $1 billion needed to provide adequate water and sanitation infrastructure to ensure access to clean water and sanitation and thereby contain the epidemic. CEPR’s Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog has followed the cholera story closely, most recently with a post titled “Kolera 2012: ‘It Gets Worse’”.

CEPR’s Haiti blog has also been following Haiti’s reconstruction, over two years after the quake. CEPR’s Jake Johnston penned this op-ed lamenting the lack of transparency for the Caribbean Journal. In both the op-ed and Haiti blog post,  Jake asks “where did the money go?”.


CEPR on the Eurozone
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot discussed economic policy failure in Europe in the wake of the French and Greek elections, which were widely seen as a rejection of austerity, on The Diane Rehm Show, noting that “people have lost confidence in the confidence fairy". Meanwhile, Dean writes that Greece should consider exiting the euro in this Guardian column. Dean was quoted in this article in the Wall Street Journal as saying that it would be very difficult to estimate the costs of a “Grexit”, or Greek exit from the euro. He was also interviewed on austerity and the euro crisis by the Real News.

Paul Krugman weighed in again on whether Argentina can be seen as a model for Greece by citing Mark: “Mark Weisbrot points out, in reference to my earlier post, that when comparing Argentina’s exit from the convertibility law with a possible Greek exit from the euro, the relevant comparison is with Argentine exports before the exit, not after. He is right…”
Mark also noted the similarities between debt-trapped Jamaica and debt-burdened Greece in an op-ed for The Guardian titled “The Jamaicanization of Europe”.

Later in the month, Mark traveled to Barcelona and Madrid, where he met with a number of political party leaders and other officials and politicians, and witnessed massive anti-austerity demonstrations first hand. In a new column for The Guardian, he describes the motivation behind the Troika’s prolonging of Spain’s crisis: “to force political changes,” including labor law changes that weaken workers’ rights and “huge cuts in health care spending” and education.


CEPR on the Social Security Payroll Cap

The Social Security payroll tax cap is the earnings level above which no further Social Security taxes are collected. The cap is currently at $110,100, though legislation has been introduced in Congress to apply the Social Security payroll tax to earnings above $250,000 (but not between the current cap and this level). CEPR’s latest ssue brief updates earlier work and finds that 5.8 percent of workers would be affected if the Social Security cap were eliminated entirely and 1.4 percent would be affected if the current tax were applied to earnings over $250,000. Two of the legislation’s co-sponsors, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) cited CEPR’s study in press releases on the pending legislation.


CEPR New and Noteworthy
--“Dean Baker, aka best economist in the world”? He is according to the author of this piece in the London Daily Standard.

--Dean took part in the USA Today Debate Club, answering No to the question “Should Cuts Be Made to Domestic Social Programs to Protect the Defense Budget?”.

--CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum’s Primer on Private Equity was mentioned in Slate magazine by Matt Yglesias., Eileen was interviewed, along with Colin C. Blaydon, director of the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and Sebastian Mallaby, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, on National Public Radio’s Forum with Micheal Kransy (KQED).

--Dean and Bruce Bartlett co-authored an op-ed titled “Hot Air over Gas Prices” that ran in Politico. (Bartlett is a former economist with the Treasury Department under President George H.W. Bush).

--John Schmitt’s January 2012 paper on low-wage workers was mentioned in this piece in The Nation.

--Nicole Woo was on America's Radio News ARNN Mid-Day Edition on May 21st, discussing the debt ceiling. Dean was on Media Matters radio, explaining the media’s obsession with the deficit. Dean also made two appearances on CNBC’s Kudlow and Company: here, talking about whether the US is still in a recession and here discussing dividend taxes

-- CEPR’s Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator, which lets you see what projected U.S. budget debts would be if we had the same per person health care costs as other developed countries, was mentioned in the New York Times’ Economix blog.

-- On May 23rd CEPR co-sponsored an event with Dr. Riane Eisler, president of the Center for Partnership Studies, Erwin de Leon of The Urban Institute and Dr. Sara Melendez on "Moving to a Caring Economy: New Indicators of Social Wealth." Other sponsors included the National Association of Mothers Centers, National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), GenderAction, Family Values @ Work, and Digital Sisters. More information can be found on the event website.

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