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CEPR News August 2012

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Friday, 31 August 2012 11:30

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

CEPR on Good Jobs

CEPR’s July report “Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone?” continued to receive media attention in August. It was mentioned in the Washington Post’s Wonkbook blog and Think Progress, which emphasized CEPR’s explanation that it’s reduced power of workers rather than technological change that is behind the decline in good jobs. Other mentions include the International Business Times, the Sun Sentinel and About.com

The paper’s authors, CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt and Research Assistant Janelle Jones, also wrote a series of posts for the CEPR Blog. John wrote this post on good jobs by education level. John also penned this post, which uses the data to debunk the technological change story. Janelle wrote this post on good jobs and gender. She also wrote this one looking at employment-sponsored retirement plans as well as this one examining employer provided health insurance. University of Iowa History Professor Colin Gordon posted this interactive graph on the CEPR blog summarizing the study’s findings.

John discussed the report on several radio shows, including The Rick Smith Show, WBAI’s Talk Back! with Hugh Hamilton and At Issue with Ben Merens, while Janelle talked to WHRU (Hofstra) and the Working Family Radio Network.  And CNNMoney cited John in this piece on low-wage workers.  


CEPR on Honduras

CEPR’s Senior Associate for International Policy Alex Main teamed up with Rights Action’s Annie Bird and Karen Spring to release “Collateral Damage of a Drug War,” based on the authors’ investigation in Honduras into the May 11, 2012 deaths of four people in a DEA-related counternarcotics operation in the Moskitia region. The authors conducted extensive interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, and U.S. and Honduran government officials, finding inconsistencies between survivor accounts and the statements of government officials.

The paper received considerable attention in the Honduran and Latin American media, thanks to reports by the major Spanish newswire EFE, and English-language media attention from Al Jazeera’s Inside Story, Free Speech Radio News, Indian Country Today, and Wired Magazine’s Danger Room blog. It was the subject of commentary by the Honduras Culture and Politics blog and the Americas Program as well. Alex discussed the paper’s findings in an interview with the Real News Network, and a separate Real News report by Kaelyn Forde provides an excellent visual complement to the report, including interviews with many of the same eyewitnesses and video evidence.

CEPR on Canada
CEPR’s latest paper, “Protecting Fundamental Labor Rights: Lessons from Canada for the United States,” examines the roles that employer opposition to unions and weak labor laws have played in the decline of unionization rates in the United States since 1960. In order to fully describe the experience of the United States, the paper’s author, CEPR Research Assistant Kris Warner, looks to the experience of Canada as the country most similar to it.


CEPR on Ecuador and Julian Assange
CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot’s August 16th column for TheGuardian, “Julian Assange asylum: Ecuador is right to stand up to the US,” was linked to prominently on The Guardian’s homepage, and was at the top of the Comment section online on both the 16th and 17th. It received a huge number of reader comments (600), and was Tweeted over 1,000 times and shared 2676 times on Facebook, at last count. It was the fifth most-viewed article on the Guardian site on Friday the 17th, and also ran in the print edition on that Friday.

Mark appeared on a half-hour discussion program for Al Jazeera’s Inside Story and also discussed the UK’s threats against Ecuador on The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann, with Sky News and BBC World TV and radio in the U.K., and on Telesur. He was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and the Inter Press Service news agency, while his Guardian commentary was cited by Ecuadorean TV, The Hindu newspaper, Brad Blog, the TechDirt blog, and other outlets. Deborah James discussed the situation on Voice of America’s Foro Interamericano.

Mark just returned from a trip to Ecuador, where he presented a paper discussing CEPR’s proposed artistic freedom vouchers, and a separate presentation on the Ecuadorean economy. While in Quito he gave numerous radio, television and print media interviews on the Assange case as well as Ecuador’s economy.


CEPR on Private Equity
Though private equity (PE) firms have garnered much more attention recently, the focus has mainly been on how partners in these firms use tax loopholes to amass vast fortunes in part by not paying their fair share of taxes. Much less is known about the sources of these earnings. A new report by CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum and Cornell University Professor Rosemary Batt sheds light on this process. PE firms claim that their profits come from adding value via better business strategies and operational improvements, and then selling these companies for more than they paid to acquire them. Private equity does sometimes use its superior access to capital markets and managerial know-how to improve efficiency in the operating companies it acquires. But, often the gains that PE firms reap for themselves and their investors result not from the creation of wealth but from transfers from workers, tax payers, portfolio companies and creditors. In pursuit of maximum profit, a company’s new PE owners may be willing to default on the implicit contracts with workers, vendors, suppliers, creditors and others that ensured that the acquired company’s stakeholders worked together productively and that were a major source of the economic value created by the company. The report, “Implications of Financial Capitalism for Employment Relations Research,” examines four contemporary cases in which the private equity owners sought to quickly increase profits by reneging on implicit contracts.

An important aspect of the financialization of the U.S. economy has been the rise over the past three decades of new financial intermediaries – private equity firms, hedge fund firms and sovereign wealth funds – that raise private pools of capital and provide an alternative investment mechanism to the traditional banking system.  The growth of these funds and the implications of their business models for firms and employees are examined by Appelbaum and Batt along with coauthor Jae Eun Lee in another report, “Financial Intermediaries in the United States.” Attitudes of these investors towards unions vary from hostile to pragmatic to indifferent. As long as unions don’t get in the way of making anticipated returns, these financial intermediaries can live with them. Whether attitudes are hostile or not, however, the lion’s share of the wealth created by the productive enterprises in which these funds invest goes to investors while workers are left with diminished jobs, income, benefits and employment security.


C
EPR on Housing
CEPR Co-director Dean Baker took part in a panel on recovery in the Arizona and U.S. housing markets as part of an event, "The U.S. Housing Recovery: Lesson From Arizona." Other panelists included Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Michael Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the ASU W. P. Carey School of Business. Senator John McCain gave the keynote address. The event was streamed live and you can view it here.

Dean wrote this CEPR blog post on this New York Times article on the foreclosure crisis.  He discussed rising home prices on the Diane Rehm Show, and he was quoted in this CNNMoney article on young homeowners with underwater mortgages as well as this Washington Post story on house prices. Here is Dean on CBS’ MoneyWatch commenting on Citigroup’s decision to offer foreclosed homeowners the option of staying in their homes as renters. As the article notes, Dean has been promoting Right to Rent as a solution to the foreclosure crisis for the past five years (Read more about CEPR’s Right to Rent policy, here


CEPR New and Noteworthy
-- CEPR’s recent report, “Small-Dollar Lending,” provides an overview of the current small-dollar loan industry and the regulations in place as well as proposed legislation currently being considered in Congress. The paper argues that there are two aspects to the small-dollar loan problem in the United States – substantial unmet demand for high-quality, small-dollar loans and too great a supply of ultra-high-cost loans that do far more harm than good to borrowers.

 -- Just in time for Labor Day, here is a column from Mark on why the minimum wage must be raised. The column appeared in the Sacramento Bee and several other news outlets.

 -- Dean was on NPR’s On Point, debating David Wessel on the deficit. And here he is on Bloomberg Businessweek weighing in on the Romney/Ryan ticket and the candidates' budget and tax proposals.

 -- John was interviewed by the New York Daily News on Paid Sick Leave.

 -- Dean wrote this op-ed for Truthout about Vice-President Biden’s promise that there would be no cuts to Social Security in a second term. It was picked up by the Huffington Post and other outlets. He was also on CNN’s Your Bottom Line talking about Medicare (transcript here).

 -- Mark’s op-ed “UN Should Get Rid of Cholera Epidemic That it Brought to Haiti” appeared in the Sacramento Bee, Arizona Daily Star and various other papers around the country.

 -- Eileen penned this op-ed for the U.S. News and World Report on new insights into the decline of the middle class. She also wrote this one looking at how the prolonged recession has made workers reluctant to take paid sick leave.

-- CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo simplifies federal funding guidance for state work sharing programs in this post for the CEPR Blog.

 -- Dean answered “financial speculation tax” when the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” asked “How to Regulate High-Frequency Trading”.

 -- CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad wrote this commentary on NewtAid (TANF) at 16 for the CEPR blog, and he does his own version of Beat the Press here, critiquing New York Times’ coverage of single mother households. His latest post informs former Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum that most adults who are living in poverty are married high school graduates.

-- Here is Kevin Drum’s demand for Dean to write a follow-up post to this one from Beat the Press. Stay tuned for his response…

Tags: canada | ecuador | Honduras | housing | jobs | julian assange | labor market | private equity | unions | wikileaks

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