CEPR News November 2013

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Monday, 02 December 2013 12:53

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

CEPR on Honduras

CEPR’s paper, “ Honduras Since the Coup: Economic and Social Outcomes,” [PDF] examines Honduras’ economy and finds that much of the economic and social progress experienced from 2006 – 2009 has been reversed in the years that followed. The paper, by CEPR researchers Jake Johnston and Stephan Lefebvre, shows that economic inequality in Honduras has increased dramatically since 2010, while poverty has worsened, unemployment has increased, and underemployment has risen dramatically, with many more workers receiving less than the minimum wage.

“This paper shows that there were important economic and social gains under the Zelaya administration that were cut short by the 2009 coup d’etat,” paper co-author and CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston said. “Unfortunately, these gains have largely been reversed in the years since, partly due to policy choices of the current government.”

The paper was featured in this article in the Los Angeles Times and this article in the Christian Science Monitor and was cited in these news reports in The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and Alternet, these Al Jazeeraop-eds. Jake was interviewed about the paper for a segment on NPR. The paper also received much Spanish-language coverage in Honduras and elsewhere, including this AP article, this one from AFP, this editorial in Honduran newspaper Tiempo, and this op-ed in Guatemala’s La Hora, among others.

CEPR’s paper was released prior to the November 24th presidential elections in Honduras. CEPR covered the election through its Americas Blog, live blogging and offering updates as events unfolded. The AFL-CIO promoted CEPR’s live-blog efforts, and CEPR Senior Associate for International Relations Alex Main had this op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times prior to the election. Mark was interviewed about the elections by CCTV, and Alex discussed the disputed preliminary results with the Real News.

As Honduras awaits the final results, CEPR’s Americas Blog has provided an important record of numerous reports of irregularities throughout both the voting and the tabulation processes, which have been underplayed in much of the media coverage of the election. The blog has also focused on politicized violence and intimidation up to and through election day.

CEPR’s international team published several blog posts on Honduras in the weeks leading up to the election. Director of International Communications Dan Beeton wrote this post on a congressional letter from Senator Tim Kaine’s (D – VA) office, also signed by another 12 senators, that is the latest of a flurry of congressional letters to have raised alarm over human rights abuses and political repression in Honduras. Alex also cited congressional concern in this post on violence during the election cycle. Dan also posted this piece on the Honduran military police.

CEPR on Trade

Both of CEPR’s Co-directors offered up critiques of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal this month. Dean appeared on PBS’ Moyers and Company with Yves Smith.

“This really is a deal that’s being negotiated by corporations for corporations and any benefit it provides to the bulk of the population of this country will be purely incidental,” said Dean. Dean also wrote this op-ed for the Guardian offering actual “free trade” proposals, while in his Guardian op-ed Mark wrote that the TPP “would strip our constitutional rights, while offering no gains for the majority of Americans. It's a win for corporations.”

Dean was cited in this piece for Reason.com and his appearance on Moyers and Company was mentioned in this article in the Daily Utah Chronicle. An op-ed in Truthout referred to CEPR’s September 2013 paper on the TPP that found that recent estimates of the U.S. economic gains that would result from the proposed TPP are very small — only 0.13 percent of GDP by 2025.

In this CEPR blog post, Dean wrote that Wikileaks once again provided a valuable public service by releasing a working draft of the TPP chapter on intellectual property.

And here is Dean in Beat the Press setting the NYT straight on the deal.

In other trade news, CEPR Director of International Programs Deborah James wrote this informative op-ed for the Huffington Post. Deborah provides a primer on the ins and outs of the Ninth Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) taking place in Bali from December 3-6, 2013. Deborah, who will be in Bali for the meeting, said that “while the agenda has been narrowed from the original mandate of the so-called ‘Doha’ Round of the WTO, decisions made there will still shape the future of the global trade system.”

Meanwhile, Dean had this piece in the New York Times’ Room for Debate on “What We’ve Learned From NAFTA” almost 20 years after the deal went into effect. According to Dean, it did just what it was supposed to do: lower wages.

 

CEPR on Getting Back to Full Employment

In their new book Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People, Dean and co-author Jared Bernstein make the case that refocusing the debate on jobs and policies that encourage full employment will not only grow the economy, but will lead to lower budget deficits and debt while diminishing our historically high rates of inequality.

Dean and Jared wrote several articles on the main themes of the book, including this op-ed for the New York Times and this post for the NYT Economix blog.

Dean and Jared discussed the topic of full employment and held a book signing at Busboys and Poets on November 25th. On the 21st, Rep. John Conyers and Rep. Frederica Wilson sponsored a briefing on the future of the full employment agenda in America that featured Dean and Jared. They spoke about kindling a new movement built on a simple vision: Every American who wants to work should have the right to either employment or training. The briefing addressed simple and proven proposals to make this vision a reality.

CEPR on Paid Leave

In their new book Unfinished Business, CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum and co-author Ruth Milkman, academic director of CUNY's Murphy Labor Institute, explore California’s decade-long experience with paid family leave. Drawing on original data from fieldwork and surveys of employers, workers, and the larger California adult population, Eileen and Ruth analyze in detail the effect of the state’s landmark paid family leave on employers and workers.

This comes shortly before the introduction in Congress of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), a bill to create a national family and medical leave insurance program.

The book is featured on the homepage of the Scholars Strategy Network.

Eileen, who is a recognized expert on workplace practices, was cited in a New York Times article on the rights of new fathers. The article stated that many men fear negative repercussions and avoid taking leave, especially unpaid leave. Eileen noted that: “Men are supposed to make a living, so if a benefit is not paid, it is not for them. But if it is paid, it changes the culture and expectation inside the organizations.”

Eileen also wrote this op-ed for the Huffington Post about the decline in US women’s employment rate compared to other countries. As Eileen explains, the U.S. was among the leading countries in terms of women's labor force participation for most of the 20th century, but now lags other advanced economies. Eileen offers several policy solutions in the article.

On November 9th, Eileen participated in a roundtable discussion at the annual APPAM meetings titled: Twenty Years Post-Family Medical Leave Act: What Have We Learned and What's Next? organized by Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress. Other speakers included Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University, Demetra Smith Nightingale of the U.S. Department of Labor and Christopher Ruhm of the University of Virginia.

On November 15th Eileen participated in an event at the U.S. Department of Labor to mark the centennial of the DOL and the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Eileen discussed "The Importance of Mother’s Employment to Family Living Standards and a Strong Middle Class" in a session on Paid Leave. CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt and Research Associate Janelle Jones participated as well, speaking on "The Importance of the Combination of the FLSA Package, Tax Credits, and Related Policies" as part of a panel on Income Security and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Eileen travelled to Florida on the 19th where she spoke to a statewide task force of the state’s workforce investment board of business and government leaders charged with overseeing Florida's workforce system. As this article in the Orlando Sentinel notes, the task force is charged with reporting to Florida lawmakers whether to draft a statewide policy on paid sick days in 2014.

And CEPR is proud to announce that the University of Leicester (U.K.) recently appointed Eileen to the position of Visiting Professor in the School of Management. Congratulations Eileen!

 

CEPR on Spain

CEPR’s latest paper, “ Policy Alternatives for a Return to Full Employment in Spain” by Mark Weisbrot and CEPR economist David Rosnick, proposes alternatives to austerity that could restore full employment to Spain by 2018 or even sooner. “This paper shows that Spain’s 26 percent unemployment is an unnecessary human tragedy,” Mark said. “It can be reduced dramatically with or without the co-operation of the European Central Bank.”

 

CEPR on Skill-Biased Technological Change

John Schmitt co-authored a working paper with the Economic PolicyInstitute President Larry Mishel and EPI Economist Heidi Shierholz to address the issue of skill-biased technological change (SBTC), or the idea that that technology is the primary driver of the increase in wage inequality since the late 1970s, as technology-induced job skill requirements have outpaced the growing education levels of the workforce.

Their paper contends that current SBTC models—such as the education-focused “canonical model” and the more recent “tasks framework” or “job polarization” approach —do not adequately account for key wage patterns (namely, rising wage inequality) over the last three decades.

The paper was written up by Eduardo Porter for the New York Times. Dean weighed in on the topic of skills-biased technological change in this Guardian op-ed. John also penned a post for the CEPR blog titled Don’t Blame the Robots!

News from the CEPR Blogosphere:

CEPR blog
CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo wrote this post on how a financial transaction tax could save grandma money, as well as this one on how Wall Street user fees could help offset sequester cuts.

CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad was busy this month, penning several posts on poverty including this one critiquing Mayor Bloomberg’s poverty “agenda”, this mainly positive critique of a piece in the New York Times, and this take down of Ron Haskins’s “War on Poverty.” Shawn also took on the CBO and their claims about SSI for children with severe disabilities, as well as Nick Kristoff and Tina Rosenberg on food stamps. He also asked why Paul Ryan is getting advice on poverty from a K street firm that receives most of its funding from the government.

John wrote this post on a new OECD report on labor-market skills. Dean wrote this one on the October unemployment numbers. And in addition to writing the weekly Labor Market Policy Research Reports, CEPR Domestic Intern Teresa Kroeger penned thesetwo posts on worker wages.

The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber
In addition to live blogging the Honduran election and many blog posts leading up to the November 24th event, CEPR Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre wrote this post on Secretary of State John Kerry’s address to the Organization of American States on U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere. “Despite all evidence to the contrary, he continued to describe the relationship between the U.S. and Latin America as a partnership between ‘equal partners,’” wrote Stephan, noting that the reality of U.S. action toward the region is one of ongoing interference.

Beat the Press
Dean weighs in (again) on the Sachs-Krugman debate, takes the WAPO to task for beating up on seniors (again), takes the NYT to task for reinventing the history of the eurocrisis, reminds us why bubbles are not funny, takes on Greg Mankiw, calls out Robert Rubin and questions the logic of Robert Samuelson. And that’s just for starters…

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch
CEPR’s Haiti Blog posted this on how one of Canada’s largest garment companies [Gildan Activewear] as well as the U.S. company Fruit of the Loom has promised to ensure that thousands of workers who make its clothing in Haitian factories are paid at least $7.22 per day, the country’s minimum wage.

In Other CEPR News…
--John was asked to discuss the employment effects of the minimum wage at a two-day G-20 Seminar on "Consistency Between Macroeconomic and Labor Policies," held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. John walked representatives from all of the G-20 countries, as well officials from the IMF, World Bank, ILO, UNCTAD, and the OECD, through a range of recent U.S. evidence on the lack of negative employment effects of moderate increases in the minimum wage.

--Mark’s op-ed explaining how cuts to the U.S. military budget are good for America appeared in over 25 newspapers including Stars and Stripes. Mark also penned this op-ed explaining that there is a bubble in the black market for dollars in Venezuela, which was published in the Huffington Post, and also appeared in Panorama (Venezuela)and Folha de São Paulo (Brazil’s largest circulation newspaper). Mark also wrote this Guardian column on how there is no Venezuelan economic apocalypse on the horizon…or in other words, that Venezuela is not like Greece.

--Dean wrote this op-ed for Al-Jazeera America on Japan’s stimulus (it works). He also continued to write about the ACA, including this op-ed on declining health care costs.

--Alexander Main, CEPR's Senior Associate for International Policy, spoke about the impact of U.S. security assistance to Honduras at a Congressional briefing on "Rethinking the Drug War in Central America and Mexico," hosted by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). Alex discussed reported human rights abuses by U.S.-funded military and police in Honduras and the lack of accountability around U.S.-led drug operations in Central America, focusing in particular on the 2012 tragic DEA-related killings of two women, a boy and a young man, an incident about which CEPR has co-published two reports. Alex's co-panelists included the well-known Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed by a drug gang in 2011 and who founded the "Caravan for Peace" movement. The briefing was organized by the new Mesoamerican Working Group, a network of non-governmental organizations that focuses on the effects of the militarization of the so-called "drug war" in Mexico and Central America.


CEPR's 2013 Holiday Party

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Location:
Public Citizen
1600 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Please join the staff of the Center for Economic and Policy Research for our annual holiday party - enjoy some drinks and hors d'oeuvres and mingle with like-minded people.

If you'd like to attend, please RSVP by December 6th.

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