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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Thursday, 20 May 2010 16:29
Welcome to the May, 2010 edition of the CEPR NEWS. This monthly newsletter highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.

CEPR celebrates two important victories on Financial Reform
Last week, the Senate passed two amendments to the financial system reform legislation that CEPR has been championing for a long time. The first, an amendment offered by Bernie Sanders to audit the Federal Reserve, passed by a vote of 96-0. Under the amendment, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would undertake a one-time audit of the emergency lending programs created by the Fed since December of 2007 and report the findings to Congress. The amendment would also require the Fed to make public by December 1 important details about these lending facilities.

According to CEPR Co-Director Dean Baker, "The country is best served by having an independent Fed, but one that is nonetheless accountable to Congress in the same way that the Food and Drug Administration is or any other government agency. This action by the Senate is an important step towards increasing the level of Fed accountability". Baker has written extensively in support of the audit the Fed measure throughout the past year, most recently signing on to an economist letter supporting the amendment. His most recent piece can be found here.

The second CEPR victory came in the form of an amendment offered by Senator Al Franken. Called the "Restore Integrity To Credit Ratings" amendment, it is aimed at preventing the securities industry from shopping around among credit rating agencies. Under the amendment, which passed by a 64-35 vote, the Securities and Exchange Commission would appoint a panel to develop a system that would independently match ratings agencies with firms that have securities that need to be rated. Dean Baker proposed this obvious fix to the conflict of interest in the current rating agencies system in his book Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy. He also mentions it here.

CEPR in the Media
CEPR has received a great deal of press coverage in recent weeks. CBS News turned to CEPR for an investigation on the slow spending of charity money for relief in Haiti, even though thousands of earthquake survivors urgently need shelter and sanitation. CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot appeared in the piece. Mark also appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss Greece's economic crisis, as well as BBC World and Wisconsin Public Radio. Meanwhile, Dean Baker was on the Rachel Maddow Show talking about Wall St and financial reform, and he discussed deficits, loans and losses with GritTV. CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt talked jobs and the labor market on The Takeaway.

And CEPR made the web and print editions of the New York Times three times on May 12th: Mark Weisbrot published an op-ed on the EU and Greece that appeared in the International Herald Tribune and Times online; Dean Baker (and CEPR's budget deficit calculator) was featured in the online Room for Debate section calling out the deficit myths; and John Schmitt was quoted in a front page article in the print edition on the changing job market.

Mark Weisbrot on Greece
The media has turned to Mark Weisbrot for his insights into the Greek economic crisis. According to Weisbrot, the deep spending cuts and procyclical policies recommended for Greece by the IMF and the EU will only serve to delay, not foster, economic recovery, and doesn't make it any more likely that they will pay off their debt in full. In addition to the NYT op-ed mentioned above, Weisbrot recently debated Yannis Papantoniou, the former Greek finance minister and main architect of the country's economic reforms of the 1990s, on Al Jazeera's The Riz Khan Show. He was also quoted in the Guardian here, his Guardian op-ed can be found here, and his CEPR blog post is here.

Dean Baker testifies before the Federal Communications Committee
Dean Baker participated in a panel discussion on noncommercial media entitled "New Strategies for Supporting Public and Noncommercial Media". The discussion was part of a larger workshop that the FCC is presenting as part of its project on the Future of Media and the Information Needs of Communities. Baker outlined his concept of individual vouchers as a mechanism for supporting non-commercial media. The basic idea for the voucher is to give each taxpayer a fixed amount (e.g. $100 a year) that can be used to support the media venture or individual of the person's choice. His full testimony can be found here.

CEPR Heads "South of the Border"
In June, the new Oliver Stone documentary, "South of the Border" will begin showing in U.S. theaters (check http://southoftheborderdoc.com/ for local showtimes near you). Co-written by CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot, the film examines U.S. media coverage of Latin America and questions U.S. policy towards the region. The film features never-before-seen interviews with seven Latin American presidents, and prior to its screen debut in the U.S., Mark will join the other filmmakers in South America for a series of screenings in the countries where the film was shot, and which the respective presidents are expected to attend. More "South of the Border" news to come in future CEPR News Updates!

CEPR New Releases
CEPR released a new study titled "The Wage Penalty for State and Local Government Employees" earlier this month. The paper, written by John Schmitt, found that state and local government employees pay a wage penalty of about four percent for working in the public sector, relative to those at the same age and education level in the private sector. The paper was featured in In These Times magazine's blog "Working In These Times" and was welcomed by groups working on state and local issues.

Another CEPR release, "A Modern Framework for Measuring Poverty and Basic Economic Security", has been well received in policy circles. Written by the director of CEPR's Inclusive and Sustainable Economy Initiative Shawn Fremstad, the paper details how the dominant framework for understanding and measuring poverty in the United States has become a conservative one and proposes a new framework for measuring poverty and basic economic security in the United States. Fremstad discussed the paper at two recent events. On May 6 he participated in a panel discussion held at the Brookings Institution on the new supplemental poverty measure and its implications for families and policymakers. The following day, he participated in a panel discussion at the Washington Area Women's Foundation's Stepping Stones Research Briefing.

CEPR BLOG ROLL !
If you haven't already, be sure to check out the newly invigorated CEPR Blog on CEPR's web site, www.cepr.net. The CEPR blog joins Dean Baker's Beat the Press and CEPR's Haiti Blog, Haiti:Relief and Reconstruction Watch. And while you're on CEPR's site, be sure to have a look at CEPR's Graphic Economics page.