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CEPR News September 2013

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 08:57

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

CEPR on the TPP
CEPR’s recent paper, “Gains from Trade? The Net Effect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on U.S. Wages” finds that the median wage earner would probably lose if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) were passed. In addition, recent estimates of the U.S. economic gains that would result from the TPP are very small — only 0.13 percent of GDP by 2025. Taking into account the un-equalizing effect of trade on wages, the paper finds that most workers are likely to lose — the exceptions being some of the bottom quarter or so whose earnings are determined by the minimum wage; and those with the highest wages who are more protected from international competition. Rather, many top incomes will rise as a result of TPP expansion of the terms and enforcement of copyrights and patents.



“This may come as no surprise after 20 years of NAFTA and an even-longer period of trade policy designed to put lower- and middle-class workers in direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world, but it’s still important to examine the economic projections,” said CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot.

The paper was cited in this piece for CBS News MoneyWatch. It was also featured in this post by Joshua Holland for Moyers and Company as well as this article in Roll Call, this article in the Asia Times Online and this piece in Teamster Nation.

The paper’s author, CEPR Economist David Rosnick, was interviewed by A Public Affair (WORT 89.9 FM, Madison, WI) and he appeared on the Rick Smith Show. CEPR’s International Communications Director Dan Beeton wrote this post for the Americas Blog that looks at what Latin American countries stand to gain from the TPP.

CEPR on the Federal Reserve and the State of the U.S. Economy

Dean was one of the most vocal critics of the prospect of Larry Summers as Fed Chair prior to Summers' announcement that he was withdrawing his name from consideration. In this op-ed Dean reminded everyone why Summers’ record should have barred him from consideration and he asked why the press continued to let administration officials promote him.

Of course, some of the Very Serious People rushed to Summers’ defense. Why, CNBC’s Morning Six Pack had Dean practically foaming at the mouth over a potential Summers’ pick: “The left is completely freaking out over the reality of a Summers-led central bank, with liberal economist Dean Baker in a particularly frothy lather. Baker reveals that it's all the media's fault that Summers is getting the big chair.”

No wonder Dean was so worked up! As this piece on CNN notes, he repeatedly rejected the idea of Summers as regulator: “Some say Summers was a longtime advocate of stricter capital requirements years before the financial crisis, but not everyone, including economist Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, buys it. Baker thinks he's given too much credit, pointing out that it wasn't until February 2008 (after the crisis was well under way) that Summers pressed for higher reserves.” Dean’s opposition to a Summers pick was noted in this op-ed in the Guardian as well.

Dean also continued to point out that now is not the time for the Fed to taper, and he was practically alone in correctly predicting that the Fed wouldn’t stop QE.

And both Mark and Dean graded the Obama administration’s economic performance as the country marked the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis. Here is Dean for CNN: “’I give him very poor marks. Five years later, the economy is still very far from recovering,’ said Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, pointing to an unemployment rate that he says would hover around 9% instead of 7.3% if so many people hadn't given up and dropped out of the work force.”  Dean was also asked for his take on Obama’s economic performance in this interview for Salon.

Mark echoed Dean’s sentiments in this interview for CCTV,"He [Obama] just didn’t even propose a stimulus that was anywhere near sufficient to make up for the collapse in private demand, when the real estate bubble burst. That was really inadequate. He can take credit for not having prolonged the recession, but in terms of a robust recovery and for the people who are unemployed it’s been a very weak recovery."


CEPR on Brazil and US-Latin American Relations
Mark wrote this column for The Guardian on the cancellation of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s state visit to the White House after documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. government had spied on Dilma’s personal communications. As Mark noted in the op-ed: “The rift with Brazil comes at a time of worsening U.S. relations with Latin America, and especially South America. It is indicative of a much deeper problem.”

“The Obama administration's refusal to recognize the results of the Venezuelan elections in April of this year, Washington is expanding its military presence where it has control (for example, Honduras), and is ready to support the overthrow of left governments when the opportunity arises (Honduras in 2009, and Paraguay last year).”

Dan Beeton wrote this post for The Americas Blog on the G20 summit, noting that “the ongoing revelations made by Snowden have affected U.S. relations with other countries as well.”

CEPR on Fast Food Workers

CEPR’s co-directors both weighed in on the issue of fast-food workers and their demands for a $15 hourly wage. Dean Baker wrote this piece for Yahoo! Finance, reminding everyone (yet again) that “If the wage of minimum-wage workers had kept pace with the economy’s productivity growth over this period, it would be almost $18 an hour today.” Mark wrote this op-ed that was printed in over 25 papers across the country including Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Seattle Times and the Times of India.

Mark cites the August issue brief by CEPR Economist John Schmitt and Research Associate Janelle Jones titled “Slow Progress for Fast-Food Workers.” The brief found that the majority of fast-food workers are at least 23 years old and only 30 percent are teenagers. More than a quarter of them are raising at least one child.  “How are they supposed to survive on about $9 an hour (their average wage), with many making the federal minimum of just $7.25?” asks Mark.

John and Janelle’s paper continues to receive media attention, including this piece in the LA Sentinel.

CEPR at the CBC

CEPR was well represented at the 43rd Annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference, held on September 19th. CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston participated in a panel with other experts from non-governmental organizations, the advocacy community, the U.S. government, and the Government of Haiti. The discussion focused on important ongoing issues in Haiti, including the lack of permanent, safe, and affordable housing, progress combating the cholera epidemic, the status of reconstruction efforts, and efforts to improve Haiti’s judicial and criminal justice system.

Earlier that day, John Schmitt took part in the panel, which was hosted by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., that looked at trends and policies that would have a large, positive impact in creating quality jobs for black workers. John discussed the findings of CEPR’s June paper on black workers, noting that the share of black workers in good jobs -- one that pays at least $19 per hour, has employer-provided health insurance, and an employer-sponsored retirement plan -- has actually declined even while education and work experience has increased.

CEPR on Syria
Mark wrote several op-eds early in the month on the Obama administration’s call for military action against Syria. Mark wrote this op-ed for TheGuardian after the UK parliament voted to reject a military attack on Syria, calling for Obama to listen to the U.S. people and do the same. He penned this piece as it became apparent the pressure on congress helped to sway lawmakers toward the no-military camp.

Mark was interviewed about Syria on KFPA’s Living Room (94.1 FM Berkeley, CA). CEPR Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre penned this post for The Americas Blog on CELAC’s statement on Syria.

News from the CEPR Blogosphere:

CEPR Blog
This post from guest blogger Colin Gordon adds an annotated political history to the iconic (and recently-updated) Piketty and Saez data on top income shares in the U.S. Dean referees the kids vs. seniors debate in this post, while here he explains why unions are the best fix to poverty.

CEPR Domestic Intern Teresa Kroeger penned this post on worker mobility and this one on the state of unions in LA, while CEPR’s Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo points to some good news in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) release of their 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook. John critiqued a newly released working paper by Texas A&M economists Jonathan Meer and Jeremy West on the minimum wage.

Beat the Press
Dean beats up the Washington Post for beating up on disabled workers. And he explains to the WaPo that it is not easy to get disability. More than 60 percent of applicants are originally ruled ineligible. While many successfully appeal their rejection, the final approval rate is still below 50 percent. It is reasonable to believe that the vast majority of frivolous claims are rejected.

Dean also waded into a little blog-feud between his friends Mike Konczal and Paul Krugmanover views about a self-correcting economy. “Paul Krugman corrected my earlier comment to note that he in fact did say that the 1990-91 and 2001 recessions were qualitatively different than prior ones in that the recoveries did not have the same sort of strong bounce back that followed prior recessions. These recessions were also attributable at least in part to the collapse of asset bubbles. In this sense, the 2007-2009 downturn is not unique.”

Dean also wrote severalposts about the poor reporting of budget numbers in stories about Republican effort to cut SNAP benefits.

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch
CEPR’s Haiti blog reported on another United Nations troop accused of rape in Haiti and noted that the Haitian Prime minister recently called on the U.N. to address the continuing cholera epidemic. CEPR also reported on an announcement by the Organization of American States that they will send a team to Haiti to monitor upcoming yet-to-be-scheduled elections.

In Other CEPR News…

--CEPR made the Harper’s Index: Percentage change since 1979 in the portion of low-wage workers holding a four-year college degree : +100

--CEPR’s May 2013 report “No-Vacation Nation Revisited” continues to receive attention from the press, with citations in this op-ed in the Baltimore Sun and this piece in the New York Times Economix blog.

-- The article “Implications of Financial Capitalism for Employment Relations Research: Evidence from Breach of Trust and Implicit Contracts in Private Equity Buyouts” by CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum, Rose Batt, and Ian Clark was published in the September issue of the British Journal of Industrial Relations.

--Dean took CEPR on the road in September, traveling to Houston on September 7th to give the keynote speech for the Houston Peace and Justice Center’s 2013 Economic Justice Conference. He then went to Seattle where he visited the Economic Opportunity Institute to discuss his book “Taking Economics Seriously”. From Seattle he came back to D.C. to take part in panel discussion on the nature of the unemployment crisis with Peter Diamond of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute. He also participated in the September 26th hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on the future of the U.S. Postal Service.

--Dean was on CNBC talking about the debt ceiling’s impact on stocks. And his work on pensions was noted in this piece by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone.

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