CEPR News May 2013

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Friday, 31 May 2013 15:07

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

CEPR on No-Vacation Nation, Redux…
CEPR’s latest paper, “No-Vacation Nation Revisited” by former CEPR Research Associate Rebecca Ray, Program Assistant Milla Sanes, and Senior Economist John Schmitt, finds that the United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation time. As a result, almost 1-in-4 Americans do not receive any paid vacation or paid holidays, trailing far behind most of the rest of the world's rich nations.

The new report revisits an analysis originally performed by CEPR researchers six years ago. Since the 2007 CEPR study, the U.S. has made up none of the gap with the rest of the major economies that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “It is striking that six years after we first looked at this topic absolutely nothing has changed. U.S. law and U.S. employer behavior still lags far behind the rest of the rich countries in the world,” said John. He elaborated on these themes in a discussion on HuffPost Live with Joe Robinson, founder of the Work To Live Campaign and Ellen Bravo, Executive Director of Family Values @ Work. John was also interviewed by WWL Radio’s The Tommy Tucker show.

The study received a great deal of attention by the press, beginning with this feature article in USA Today. The paper also cited twice in the Washington Post (in the business section as well as in Ezra Klein’s WonkBlog) and was also featured in CBS News’ MoneyWatch, Today’s Life Inc. (it was also mentioned on the Today Show), UPI and numerous local newspapers across the country. The paper was also cited extensively in the Canadian press (Canada ranked 19th out of the 21 countries in the study), appearing in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, and other outlets.

And on Workplace “Flexibility”
CEPR also weighed in on the"Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013." As CEPR Senior Economist Eileein Appelbaum wrote in this April op-ed for The Hill: “Touted by House Republicans as a new comp time initiative that will give hourly-paid workers the flexibility to meet family responsibilities, it is neither new nor about giving these workers much needed time off to care for their families… Its major effect would be to hamstring workers – likely increasing overtime hours for those who don't want them and cutting pay for those who do.”

Eileen reiterated these points in this interview that aired on NPR’s Morning Edition, Eileen was also quoted in this Time magazine article as well as this piece that appeared on NBCNews.com’s First Read. Eileen addressed these and similar issues in several op-eds timed to coincide with Mother’s Day. Here she is in the Huffington Post, and she penned this piece for US News and World Report.

CEPR on Venezuela
Despite ongoing media attention to opposition challenger Henrique Capriles’ claims that he “won” Venezuela’s April 14 presidential election, and despite the U.S. government’s ongoing refusal to officially recognize the new Venezuelan presidential administration of Nicolas Maduro, statistical analysis of the voting machine audit done on the day of the election shows that this audit was decisive. The odds of getting the April 14 audit result if in fact the unaudited machines contained enough errors to reverse the election outcome are far less than one in 25 thousand trillion. CEPR’s recent paper, “A Statistical Note on the April 14 Venezuelan Presidential Election and Audit of Results,” details and explains the statistical analysis behind the results that CEPR had previously made public.

“There is really no doubt at all about this election result,” said CEPR Co-director and co-author of the paper Mark Weisbrot. “The Obama administration must know that auditing the remaining voting machines cannot change the outcome, yet they continue to pretend differently and refuse to recognize the election results.”

As CEPR’s Director of International Communications Dan Beeton wrote in this blog post for the Americas Blog, CEPR has issued two press releases on the analysis as well as the full paper detailing CEPR’s calculations step-by-step, and Mark wrote an op-ed about it for Al Jazeera English. Mark also presented the findings at a recent high-profile conference at the Celso Furtado Center in Rio. Despite being reported in a variety of Latin American and Spanish media, including Spanish newspaper El País, Argentine media outlet Télam, and Venezuela’s Panorama, the U.S. media has ignored this important part of the story. Dan provides an update of the audit in today’s Americas Blog, noting that as CEPR’s statistical analysis had predicted, the audit “as so far produced results upholding the official results showing Maduro to be the winner.”

Mark also wrote this post for the Americas Blog critiquing the International Crisis Group’s report on Venezuela, which he argues is intended to provoke – rather than mitigate – a politicial crisis, following the elections.

 
CEPR on Austerity, the Dollar and “Excelgate”
CEPR continues to explain why the Reinhart-Rogoff excel spreadsheet error matters. Here CEPR Economist David Rosnick responds to R&R’s critisism of Paul Krugman’s critique of their work. As Dean states in this Truthout op-ed, “The story of the Reinhart-Rogoff error tells us a great deal about how the elites use economists and the prestige of the economics profession in order to impose their will on the public”. Dean explains in several Beat the Press posts why “the 90% (debt-to-GDP threshold) should never have been taken seriously.” Unfortunately, as Dean points out in this Guardian piece, the US and Europe don’t seem to be listening. In this post for the Project Syndicate blog, Dean writes that the “new evidence is sufficient to prompt a serious rethinking of the austerity agenda, especially in the euro zone countries where it has caused the most damage,” and he explains why a tax on vacant properties is a better way to go. Dean was also quoted in this post in the Nation blog on austerity, and he answered a resounding YES to the US News and World Report’s Debate Club question “Is Europe right to abandon austerity?” (You can vote Dean’s answer “up” in the poll…unfortunately, at CEPR News press time austerity is still ahead).
 

Dean wrote an op-ed for Al Jazeera titled “Destroying the lair of the budget balancing cretins,” explaining that if the deficit hawks are "really concerned about our children's future," they should focus on the over-valued dollar. Mark also weighed in on the need to lower the dollar in this McClatchey op-ed that was published in several newspapers including the Sacramento Bee, the Kansas City Star and the Anchorage Daily News. Mark noted that a lower dollar would reduce the trade deficit and create more jobs, while so-called “free-trade agreements” such as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and U.S.-EU Free Trade Agreement are more likely to cost jobs here than to create them.


CEPR on Latin America
CEPR hosted a congressional briefing on Thursday, May 30, 2013. The briefing, titled “Obama in Latin America: The U.S. Response to the Region’s Leftward Shift,” featured CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot; Laura Carlsen,Director of the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy; Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of Latin American Studies at Pomona College and John Lindsay Poland, Co-director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean. The honorary co-host was Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ). The briefing examined how the U.S. administration has responded to the region’s shifting political dynamics and offer recommendations for improving U.S. relations with the rest of the hemisphere.

The briefing was timed to coincide with the 2013 Latin American Studies Association International Congress, held in Washington, D.C. May 29 – June 1, 2013. CEPR staff are participating in three panels: “The Latin American Spring: What Results Can We See from the Left Governments in Latin America?”; “Continuity without Change: Why U.S. Foreign Policy Remains the Same Regardless of Who’s in the White House”; and “U.S. Drug Policy towards Central America: A Reprise on U.S. Military Intervention?”

CEPR wrote several op-eds and blog posts addressing these issues as well. Mark discussed the recent IMF report on Latin American economies on Biz Asia America. CEPR Senior Associate for International Policy Alex Main wrote a post on President Obama’s visit to Mexico and Central America for the Americas Blog, noting that while “Obama claims that he has sought to avoid ‘militarizing the struggle against drug trafficking’, the opposite trend has been observed throughout his administration.” Alex discussed this topic with American University/Link TV’s “Latin Pulse” program.

Alex and Dan also weighed in on the U.S. “drug war” in Central America with this op-ed for Al Jazeera English, recounting the story of the 2012 tragic killing of four indigenous villagers in Ahuas, Honduras in a joint U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)/Honduran police counter-narcotics operation one year ago this month. Dan also wrote a post for the Americas Blog on Associated Press correspondent Alberto Arce’s new investigative report into recurring police death squad activity in Honduras. CEPR International Intern Arthur Phillips also penned a post on what can be expected from a new truce between Honduran gangs.
 
 
CEPR on Social Security
CEPR released its Social Security Byte soon after today’s release of the 2013 Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ reports  While there was little change from the 2012 report, Dean notes that the Medicare report had some positive news in that the projected shortfall dropped slightly from the 2012 report. The main reason this decline is a slower rate for the projected growth in health care costs.

CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad co-authored this issue brief on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income for Workers with Disabilities. The paper was orginally published by the Center for America Progress.
 
 
News from the CEPR Blogosphere:
CEPR Blog
CEPR Domestic Intern Will Kimball wrote a series of posts on young college graduates. He wrote this piece on the McKinsely report on young college graduates as well as this one on how they are increasingly emloyed in jobs for which they are overqualified. He also penned two posts examining unpaid internships: this one that looked at the legal and ethical questions raised and this one that discussed the economic implications.

CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo shared three new videos that show how unions make the middle class, while Milla Sanes wrote about a BLS study that shows that union workers have more access to employee benefits.

Dean wrote this post on the new Brookings paper that agrees with CEPR’s findings that sometimes college doesn’t pay. Dean also wrote about the health of public pensions (in a post that first appeared on the Roosevelt Institute’s Econobytes blog. Dean also penned this piece on the April jobs numbers for Econobytes.

And here’s a guest blog post on “The Politics of Good Jobs” by Colin Gordon, professor and director of Undergraduate Studies, 20th Century U.S. History, at the University of Iowa. The post originally appeared in Dissent Magazine.

The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber
CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston examined the IMF’s recent loan to Jamaica in this post titled “IMF Approves Jamaica Loan – Pain, No Gain.” Jake also wrote about Bolivia’s decision to expel USAID, noting the agency’s history of subversion there since president Evo Morales took office.

Dan Beeton and CEPR Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre wrote this post on former Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt’s conviction (unfortunately now overturned) on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, noting U.S. government officials also share blame for the atrocities. CEPR Program Assistant Sara Kozameh followed up with this critique of the scarce mainstream media coverage of the trial, noting that information about the genocide was available to the media as it occurred, but was ignored. Rights Action’s Annie Bird also wrote a guest post about the trial.

Arthur Phillips penned this post critiquing Bloomberg’s recent one-sided coverage of the Ecuadorean economy. Arthur also wrote about Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) meeting with Honduran president Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo in early May, while Dan wrote this post on ALBA members’ move to form an alternative to the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to oversee investor-state disputes.
 
 
In Other CEPR News…

--Praise for CEPR and Mark and Dean, from Digby: “I had the privilege of hearing Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot speak about austerity the other night and it was as fascinating as you might imagine. I think most people who read this blog wouldn’t be surprised by what they said, but I think many in the audience were people who may be depending upon more mainstream sources and were very surprised — and alarmed — by what they heard. It’s hard to wrap your mind around. The CEPR does yeoman’s work in providing the data and analysis that informs all of us and I’m very grateful for them.”
 

--Mark compares the United States and the eurozone’s responses to their respective financial crises in this op-ed for Al Jazeera.


--Dean settles the debt ceiling debate in this op-ed for Yahoo Finance!, He answers the question “Is Obamacare Too Complicated to Succeed” for the New York Times’ Room for Debate, and in this Yahoo Finance! piece he asks and answers his own question: “The Return of the Housing Bubble”? Dean was quoted in this piece on rising house prices that aired on NPR’s Marketplace.

--Here’s Eileen’s take on Apple and taxes, in US News and World Report

--John and CEPR former Research Assistant Kris Warner’s 2010 paper “Ex-offenders and the Labor Market” was recently cited in this article in the Huffington Post.

--Mark wrote a column for Al Jazeera English, and Director of International Programs Deborah James commented in Inter Press Service, on the selection of a Brazilian, Roberto Azevêdo, to head the World Trade Organization.

--Dean was on Bloomberg TV answering the question: “What's Really Behind the Worker Shortage?”And he made a brief appearance on the Nightly Business Report, in a segment on consumer credit.
--Many thanks to everyone who helped to make CEPR’s Director Watch campaign a success. Director Watch will be up and running in a few months…stay tuned!