CEPR News September 2012

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Friday, 28 September 2012 11:30

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

CEPR on Jobs: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

CEPR followed its July 2012 paper, “Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone” with the September release of “Bad Jobs on the Rise.” The paper’s authors, CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt and Research Assistant Janelle Jones, found that almost one-fourth of U.S. workers are in a bad job (defined as one that pays less than $37,000 per year, does not have employer-provided health insurance, and lacks some kind of retirement plan). Despite substantial increases in the education, age, and quantity and quality of technology over the last three decades, the researchers found that the share of workers with a “bad job” has risen since 1979.

The report featured prominently in this piece on job quality in Today.com’s Life Inc. Janelle penned a related post for the CEPR Blog titled “Bad Jobs Bad Jobs Watcha Gonna Do?” and she produced this bad jobs infographic.

CEPR’s “good jobs” paper continues to receive media attention. It was mentioned in this Labor Day piece by Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post and in this article on unions in the American Prospect. Tim Noah cited the paper at The New Republic blog, and it was also cited in this piece in the Christian Science Monitor.

CEPR also weighed in on the September jobs numbers in the monthly Jobs Byte. CEPR Co-director Dean Baker was on The Kudlow Report talking about the jobs report, while CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum was on BBC World's Business Edition. 

Dean shoots down the confidence fairy and explains supply and demand in this clip from CNBC.  Dean also appeared on Fox Business News, where he answered the question: Jobs Blame Game: Lack of Skills or No Demand? (If you can’t watch, you can read this Beat the Press post to see how he answered).


CEPR on Venezuela
CEPR’s latest paper “Venezuela’s Economic Recovery: Is it Sustainable?” looks at Venezuela’s foreign and domestic debt, inflation, balance of payments, and other aspects of the economic recovery to see if it is sustainable. It finds that Venezuela’s current economic growth is sustainable and could continue at the current pace or higher for many years.

“For most analysts over most of the past 13 years, Venezuela’s economic collapse has always been just around the corner,” said CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot, co-author of the report (along with CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston), “but it hasn’t happened, and these forecasts appear to have been based on some wishful thinking.”

Already, the paper has been written up by Brazilian and other Latin American media, and Mark discussed the paper’s findings on KPFK FM (Los Angeles, CA) on Thursday, September 27th.


CEPR on Taxes and the 47%
As Dean pointed out in this appearance on MSNBC’s The Ed Show, the discussions following Mitt Romney now infamous comment about the 47% of Americans who do not pay taxes miss the point. As he explained in this this piece in Yahoo! Finance, this one in U.S.News and World Report and in this Beat the Press post, “this debate is a distraction from the real issues because paying taxes and receiving government benefits like Social Security and Medicare are less important in terms of income distribution than the way the government structures the economy." (Dean details the ways in which the economy has been restructured resulting in a massive upward redistribution of income in his book “The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive”).

Eileen Appelbaum elaborated on this theme in this op-ed for U.S. News and World Report. She also penned one for Truthout titled “Private Equity and the 47 Percent,” which points out that Romney made his remarks at a fundraiser hosted by private equity manager Marc J. Leder. As Eileen notes: “The private equity firm that Leder co-founded, Sun Capital, has more than once driven one of its portfolio companies into bankruptcy - shedding liability for the company's pension plan and reducing its debt - only to have another of its units buy the company out of bankruptcy."


CEPR on Ecuador at the American Enterprise Institute
Mark was outnumbered three to one in a well-attended panel discussion at AEI on Ecuador President Rafael Correa's offer of political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Mark more than held his own against Roger F. Noriega of AEI (and former Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere under George W. Bush), Gustavo Palacio of Ecuador Democracy International and Jose Cardenas of Cardenas Strategic Solutions. You can watch the debate here. (And you can read more of Mark’s views on the Assange case here.)

In other CEPR/AEI news, CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad debated AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt on “the state of Poverty in America” in a live chat featured on the Today Show’s LifeInc.com. Shawn also wrote several CEPR Blog posts on the issue of poverty, including this one and this one.


CEPR on Canada

CEPR’s August release “Protecting Fundamental Labor Rights: Lessons from Canada for the United States” was picked up by several influential blogs including Think Progress, the AFL-CIO and Mark Thoma’s Economist’s View. The paper, by CEPR Research Assistant Kris Warner, was also featured in this post at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, a shorter version of which also appeared in the print edition of the paper on Sunday, September 8th.

CEPR followed up with several blog posts about the paper, including John’s post “Labor Day Lessons From Canada” and these two from Kris :“(Employer Opposition to) Forming Unions in the United States and Canada” and “Obtaining a Contract after Unionization in the United States and Canada.” Dean wrote about the paper in this op-ed for Al-Jazeera.


CEPR’s Erskine Bowles Stock Index
Along with former Senator Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles has become known to much of the public as the co-chair of President Obama’s deficit commission. The two of them produced a report that is viewed by many in the media and leading Democrats in Congress as providing the basis for a “Grand Bargain” on a long-term deficit reduction package. Many people also remember Mr. Bowles from his days in the Clinton administration, or from his stint as President of the University of North Carolina. And there were his unsuccessful attempts to win North Carolina’s Senate seat.

In addition to these duties, Mr. Bowles has also sat on the boards of several major corporations for decades. CEPR thought it would be enlightening to see how the stock of these corporations performed compared with the overall S&P 500, so we constructed the Erskine Bowles stock index. It seems that the Erskine Bowles index has not fared very well. Since April of 2003 the Erskine Bowles stock index has lost 33.5 percent of its value. By contrast, the S&P 500 is up by 53.1 percent over this period.

As Dean pointed out in this Guardian column, “…it’s probably not fair to blame Mr. Bowles for the poor performance of the companies he serves as a director. Directors usually just attend a 4-6 meetings a year and rarely play any role in actually running the company.” But, as Dean also highlighted, “the millions Bowles makes for this work is symptomatic of a larger problem in corporate governance. Bowles pockets millions as part of a corrupt system of corporate governance that allows CEOs to rip-off the companies they run”. And he wants to reduce Social Security benefits for seniors who are already living on the edge. Or as Dean says: Mr. Bowles is “a true hero of the Washington establishment."


CEPR on the Federal Reserve
Dean debunked CNN’s Erin Burnett’s claims that the Fed caused gas and food prices to rise (“This is nonsense” said Dean). Dean also discussed the Fed on the Rick Smith Show and on Huffington Post Live. He also commented on the predictable response from the inflation scaremongers to the news of QE3, here. But he doesn’t let the Fed off the hook: “Bernanke and Greenspan failed to recognize the housing bubble (Bernanke was a Fed governor from 2002 to 2005) and to take steps to deflate it before it grew large enough to do so much damage to the economy. In other words, he is cleaning up his own mess.”


CEPR New and Noteworthy
--Dean was on NPR’s “All Things Considered” answering the question “is the better off question the right one?”

--CEPR's Senior Associate for International Policy Alexander Main participated in a panel on Haiti as part of the Congressional Black Caucus' Annual Legislative Conference. The panel focused on a variety of issues facing Haiti as it continues to recover from the effects of the 2010 earthquake and the ongoing cholera epidemic.

--Here is Dean on MSNBC’s The Cycle, busting Social Security myths.

--CEPR’s International Communications Coordinator Dan Beeton was quoted in this AP story, criticizing Honduras' official investigation of a fatal shooting of four innocent people during a May drug interdiction operation. In response to the Honduran officials’ conclusions, which conveniently turned out to be just what the U.S. and Honduran governments would want them to be, Dan responded, “The Honduran authorities' claims simply are not credible, when confronted with forensic evidence and so much eyewitness testimony to the contrary.” The article mentions CEPR’s August paper co-written with Rights Action, “Collateral Damage of a Drug War.” Dan summarized how the official investigation’s conclusions depart from the evidence in this blog post.

--In this CEPR blog post, CEPR’s Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo notes that Challenge magazine published Eileen’s and co-author Rosemary Batt’s piece titled "A Primer on Private Equity at Work” (Behind a paywall here). The Challenge piece is based on this February 2012 CEPR working paper.

--CEPR’s monthly Housing Market Monitor came out on September 25th. As Dean explained to CBS’ MoneyWatch, “…speculation at the bottom end of the market is playing a significant role in housing price gains in many of these markets”.

--Dean weighed in on the Chicago’s teachers’ strike with these posts in Beat the Press, as well as this op-ed for Al Jazeera. The Al Jazeera piece was picked up by Diane Ravitch, who called it “One of the Best Articles About the Strike”.

--On September 13th, Mark traveled to Boston to participate in an event at UMass Boston titled “Post-Neoliberalism in Latin America: A New Vision for Development. Mark joined Miguel Angel Contreras, president of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Venezuela, in a panel discussion on whether post-neoliberalism is an economic theory or a political ideology, and what is its vision for development.

--Nicole’s recent CEPR blog post highlights this USA Today editorial in support of the financial transaction tax, writing that USA Today joins other leading editorial boards, including the Boston Globe and New York Times, in calling for a taxes of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street trades. As Nicole notes, “The financial transaction tax has truly gone mainstream.”

 
--Shawn participated in an event on income support for children with disabilities at the Center for American Progress held on September 10th. This panel discussed the challenges experienced by the families of children with disabilities, attacks on the SSI program, a blueprint for reform, and connections between SSI policy debates and those of other safety net programs. Video of the event is available here.

--CEPR’s “Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch” blog challenged recent statements from USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe on the number of contracts going to Haitian companies, and the extent to which cholera is “under control,” respectively.

--Dean was at Rutgers University - Newark on September 21st for a financial reform summit sponsored by New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund. Panelists discussed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the foreclosure crisis and more. Dean gave a keynote address and monitored a panel on financial reform.

--On September 27th, Eileen took on Roy Katzovicz of Pershing Square Capital Management in a debate titled, "Private Equity and Regulation in the Global Economy," sponsored by the George Washington University chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society.

--Mark took on rating agency Moody’s in a column for The Guardian, calling its threat to downgrade the U.S. government’s credit rating “a political statement, rather than an assessment of risk for investors.”

--Click here for a peek at the latest blog from CEPR’s international team: The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber. More info coming next week…stay tuned.

Tags: 47 percent | canada | ecuador | Erskine Bowles | Federal Reserve | jobs | taxes | unions | venezuela