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CEPR News August 2013

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Friday, 30 August 2013 14:05

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


CEPR on Fast Food Workers and the Minimum Wage
One argument frequently made against higher wages for fast-food workers is that the industry is dominated by teenagers and workers with less than a high school degree, who somehow “deserve” the low wages they receive. CEPR’s new issue brief, which analyzes government data on fast-food workers, however, tells a different story. As the paper’s authors CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt and Research Associate Janelle Jones note in the paper, only about 30 percent of fast food workers are teenagers, and more than one-fourth are raising at least one child. In addition, over 70 percent of all fast-food workers have at least a high school degree and more than 30 percent have had at least some college education.

The paper received a great deal of attention from the press. Janelle was interviewed in this front-page piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A chart from the paper was featured in this piece in the Washington Post, and the paper was mentioned in this article in the Atlantic as well as this one on MSN Money. John was interviewed on the paper by KPCC radio. The paper was cited in articles in the San Jose Mercury News and several other local newspapers.

CEPR’s work on the minimum wage and low wage workers in general continues to receive attention. CEPR’s work on low wage workers was cited in an op-ed in Al Jazeera on fast food workers. CEPR’s study on the minimum wage was linked to in a New York Times op-ed in favor of the striking fast food workers. CEPR’s work on low wage workers was cited in this piece by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker. This article in Salon, which was orignially posted on the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog, cites two CEPR studies on the minimum wage.


CEPR on the Battle for Fed Chair
CEPR Co-director Dean Baker weighed in on the search for a new Federal Reserve Board chair with numerous articles, interviews, blog posts, and op-eds explaining why Obama’s friend and former economic advisor Larry Summers would be the wrong pick. Dean was quoted in an article on Larry Summers in Bloomberg Business Week, saying: “Summers is going to have a very sympathetic approach to Wall Street.” Dean also appeared on Ring of Fire radio with Mike Papantonio in a piece titled “The Disatrous Larry Summers for Fed Chair.”

Dean wrote this op-ed for Al Jazeera and the Huffington Post in which he dispels the myth of Summers as regulator. In this piece for the Guardian he lists all the many reasons why Summers doesn’t deserve to be Fed Chair, and in this op-ed he expands on that theme, noting that Summers argued against breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks that were at the heart of the financial crisis: “Summers was the architect of the policies that laid the basis for the crisis in the first place. In the Clinton years he was a strong proponent of deregulating finance. He also pushed the high dollar policy that led to the country’s enormous trade deficit. This created a hole in demand that was filled by the stock bubble in the 1990s and by the housing bubble in the last decade.” Dean looked at the media’s treatment of Larry Summers and new Washington Post (aka Fox on 15th street) owner Jeff Bezos in this piece titled “The Smart Boys: Larry Summers and Jeff Bezos.”

As other names were floated as possible candidates, Dean penned this op-ed on the possibility of a return on the Greenpsan Fed for Caixin Online. Dean also took the media to task in several posts in Beat the Press including here, here, here, and here. And here, Dean mediates a debate on Summers between Bette Midler and Washington Post's Fed reporter, Neil Irwin…guess who won?


CEPR on Snowden, the NSA and Latin America
CEPR continued to monitor the developments in the case of national security whistle-blower Edward Snowden. CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrotcompares the role of Latin America and Europe in the NSA surveillance scandal in The Guardian. Recently Mark was interviewed by the Voice of Russia radio on new revelations that the NSA was listening in on video conferences at the UN, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Weisbrot also penned commentaries on the ongoing controversy this month for Folha de São Paulo,The Guardian, and Al Jazeera English, and participated in a debate on RT’s “Crosstalk,” with a focus on U.S. interference in Latin America.

CEPR staff also weighed in with posts on the Americas Blog, including this one by CEPR International Intern Mabel Duran-Sanchez on journalist Glenn Greenwald’s testimony before the Brazilian Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense on the NSA’s surveillance activities in Brazil and this one by Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre recapping threats and intimidation from Washington over Snowden’s actions and granting of temporary assylum by Russia.


CEPR on Haiti
CEPR’s Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog featured this post on new threats to human rights defenders in Haiti coming from Duvalierists and apparent land-owners who want to evict displaced earthquake survivors. The Haiti blog also posted this piece summarizing numerous studies and other writings outlining the United Nations’ responsibility in causing an outbreak of cholera that has killed thousands and sickened hundreds of thousands. The post mentions thiswell-publicized study by Yale’s School of Public Health that concludes: “The United Nations inadvertently caused a deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti, and has legal and moral obligations to remedy this harm.” The Yale study is at least the tenth such report to emerge with evidence pointing to U.N. culpability. CEPR has long called for the U.N. to take responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti and has written about the issue extensively over the course of the past few years. As the U.N.’s role in causing the cholera outbreak continues to be a major P.R. disaster, International Communications Director Dan Beeton was quoted in a Miami Herald article this week on some participating countries’ “frustration” with the U.N. Haiti mission.

The blog also continued to monitor aid to Haiti, posting this piece analyzing recent steps taken by USAID to increase transperancy. The blog post notes that the release of data by USAID is a welcome step toward transparency, it’s also a reminder of how much further there is to go. CEPR Senior Associate for International Policy Alex Main was recently interviewed by Blouin News about the lack of transperancy in aid efforts.


CEPR on No-Vacation Nation 
August marks the height of the summer vacation season, so it is no wonder that CEPR’s May 2013 paper, “No-Vacation Nation Revisited,” received lots of attention this month. The paper by John Schmitt, former CEPR Research Associate Rebecca Ray and CEPR Program Assistant Milla Sanes, studied paid vacations and paid holidays in 21 rich countries (16 European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States). As CEPR discovered in it’s orginal study published in 2007, the United States is the only country in the group that does not require employers to provide paid vacation time.

This past month John was quoted in this article in Forbes. The paper was also cited in this op-ed in the Baltimore Sun as well as this article for CNN Money, this one for Salon and this one in the Atlantic.


CEPR on Structural Unemployment
Dean and PBS NewsHour's Paul Solman go head to head on structural unemployment! The battle began when Dean wrote a post for Beat the Press critiquing a PBS NewsHour segment, saying: “The PBS Newshour won the gold medal for journalistic malpractice on Friday by having David Brooks and Ruth Marcus tell the country what the Friday jobs report means. Brooks and Marcus got just about everything they said completely wrong.” Solomon responded to Dean in his blog here, and Dean answered in this post in Beat the Press.

Dean also critiqued a piece in the New York Times by David Autor and David Dorn. The story told by Autor and Dorn is that technology displaces manufacturing jobs, bookkeeping jobs, and other jobs that used to provide a middle class standard of living by putting downward pressure on the wages of formerly middle class workers. At the same time it creates more jobs for the people who program the machines, hence we see higher wages for high end workers. Dean debunks that story, noting that it simply does not fit the pattern of job creation that we have seen in the last decade. As Dean has stated over and over, (as in this BTP post), this story is comforting to the elites and the media because it implies that the upward redistribution of income that we have been seeing is simply an inevitable outcome of technological progress, not deliberate policy decisions.


CEPR in Argentina
Weisbrot traveled to Buenos Aires to participate in the international seminar, “Argentina and Latin America: The Development and Integration Agenda; South-South Relations,” sponsored by Argentina’s Centro de Estudios Económicos y Monitoreo de las Políticas Públicas, the Centro de Economia y Finanzas para el Desarrollo de la Argentina, the Geneva-based South Centre, the research organization the Centro de Investigación y Gestión de la Economía Solidaria, and the National Securities Commission of the Argentine government. Weisbrot’s presentation focused on the global impact of austerity policies, and other speakers included Argentine central bank president Mercedes Marcó del Pont; Argentina’s Deputy Economy Minister Axel Kicillof; Yuefen Li, Head of Debt and Development Finance Branch of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development; and South Centre Executive Director Martin Khor. The conference was covered in various Argentine and international media outlets, including Página/12, Télam, Tiempo Argentino and UPI.


News from the CEPR Blogosphere:
CEPR Blog
Guest blogger Colin Gordon, professor and director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Iowa, penned this post for the CEPR blog showing monthly jobs for every state, for the last four business cycles.

Dean and CEPR Research Associate Helene Jorgensen followed up their July 2013 paper looking at whether the Affordable Care Act is a jobs killer with this recent post in the CEPR blog. In both instances they find little evidence that employers are cutting the hours of full-time employees to just under 30 hours or that employers would suddenly move to restructure their workplace in large numbers just to avoid the relatively modest sanctions associated with the ACA.

The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber
The Americas Blog featured several posts on Honduras in August. In this post, Dan Beeton compares the U.S. State Department’s reaction to human rights violations by police in St. Lucia to its failure to respond to similar abuses in Honduras. Dan also penned this post on a newly-declassified document that shows that the U.S. military considers IMF-mandated policies to be dangerous for Honduras, as well as this piece on a contentious new law on “development promotion” that would facilitate the sale of various public and natural resources for development purposes. CEPR Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre wrote this post examining why violent attacks on members of Honduras’ LGBT community haven’t received much attention in the press as those in Russia.

In addition, the Americas Blog featured a guest post by Brian Mier on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and public opposition to World Cup-related development measures in Rio de Janeiro, as well as this one by Alex Main on Argentine president Cristina Kirchner’s recent speech at the United Nations.

Beat the Press
Dean counters two myths from Robert Samuelson in this post about the causes of the recession and here he explains why Samuelson is wrong on housing. Here Dean explains why he called Richard M. Daley “the Bernie Madoff of Big City Mayors”, and here he critiques a piece in the New York Times by Glenn Hubbard on the budget deficit. Dean took on the New York Times for this article claiming the “demise of the French welfare state”. But he also gives credit where and when it’s due, here praising the NYT for a piece on striking fast food workers.


In Other CEPR News…
--CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo was on the Real News, discussing Social Security’s 78th birthday.

--Mark appeared on CrossTalk in a segment titled “Rising Latinos”

--Dean was on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes talking about Detroit’s bankruptcy. Dean also wrote about Detroit’s pension obligations in this op-ed for Truthout, where he also calls out Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to default on the city’s pension obligations.

--CEPR Senior Economists Eileen Appelbaum and John Schmitt contributed a chapter to a new textbook. Titled "Comparative Employment Relations in the Global Economy," and edited by Professors Carola Frege of the London School of Economics and John Kelly of the University of London, the book examines Employment Relations and Macroeconomic Performance. The book should be an important resource for those in the CEPR family who teach or are students in programs in employment relations, management, political economy, labor policy, industrial and economic sociology, regulation and social policy.

--On August 11th, Eileen participated in a session of the American Sociological Association annual meeting that discussed a variety of ways in which employers, unions and other policy makers are seeking to address concerns related to workplace flexibility. Visit the meeting website for more information.

--Mark was quoted in this AFP article about a U.S. appeals court ruling that ordered the Argentine government to shell out $1.47 billion to two U.S. “vulture” funds.

--CEPR’s June 2013 report “Has Education Paid Off for Black Workers?” was cited in this op-ed in the Miami Herald about the March on Washington by U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson.

--“Jump in mortgage rates dampens irrational exuberance in housing market,” says Dean. Read more in the August edition of CEPR’s Housing Market Monitor.

Tags: Argentina | fast food workers | Federal Reserve Board | Haiti | latin america | minimum wage | paid vacations | Snowden | unemployment

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