CEPR News June 2013

July 01, 2013

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

CEPR on Good Jobs for Black Workers

CEPR Research Associate Janelle Jones and Senior Economist John Schmitt released the latest in their series of reports on job quality. The new report focuses on African-American workers, noting that the big increases over the last three decades in educational attainment among black workers have not been matched by improvements in job quality. CEPR posted an infographic to Tumblr that breaks down the main points of the report.

CEPR on Edward Snowden, the NSA and Foreign Policy

CEPR Co-Directors Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker have op-eds on The Guardian and Yahoo! Finance’s The Exchange, respectively, on the case of whistleblower Edward Snowden. Mark wrote in his columns about Ecuador’s principled consideration of asylum for Snowden and how it has been demonized in the media as a result. Dean wrote on how the case has exposed the privatization of national security. Mark followed up his Guardian piece with a new column in Aljazeera English examining the Obama administration’s shift in diplomatic strategy on Snowden. Mark also issued a statement and was on RT’s Cross Talk to debate the case opposite Ariel Ratner of the Truman National Security Project .

CEPR’s Americas Blog has been monitoring Snowden’s case with an eye toward U.S. foreign policy and the Americas. Posts by Mark Weisbrot so far have noted how the Obama administration’s initial approach of threatening other countries over Snowden backfired, while its media strategy of making Snowden appear to be a “spy” and a traitor has had success with the major media. Posts by International Communications Director Dan Beeton have examined U.S. policymakers’ threats to punish Ecuador by ending trade preferences – a threat that Ecuador preempted by abandoning the trade benefits so that they could not be used as leverage. The blog has also noted an appeal to Ecuadorean President Correa by Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, Tom Hayden, Daniel Ellsberg, Danny Glover, Shia LaBeouf and many others to grant Snowden asylum.

CEPR on How Volunteering Pays Off

A paper by CEPR Senior Research Associate Helene Jorgensen found a positive volunteer effect on the probability of employment for persons who were not employed and volunteered for more than 20 hours per year. The paper, “Does It Pay to Volunteer?”, also found that many volunteers did not actually volunteer in the professional field in which they were seeking employment, suggesting that volunteering may have signaled to prospective employers the applicant possessed desirable qualities such as motivation, creativity and reliability. Forbescovered the paper, and Helene wrote a blog post on the topic, comparing her paper to another study, “ Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” that was conducted by the government agency Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) and released the same week.

CEPR on Jamaica’s Debt

CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston wrote an issue brief that finds multilateral debt cancellation would provide Jamaica with more resources than new loans from lenders the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). According to the brief, debt cancellation would free up $1.6 billion from 2013-2017, providing important resources as Jamaica is being forced to cut spending under its IMF agreement. The report was written up in The Jamaica Observer, and Jake has done several national radio interviews in Jamaica on the brief.

CEPR on Jobs and the Economic Recovery

The June edition of CEPR’s Jobs Byte found that job growth continues to be weak, with the unemployment essentially unchanged at 7.6 percent. Dean Baker and John Schmitt both spoke at a Roosevelt Institute conference on “A Bold Approach to the Jobs Emergency.” Dean argued for the importance of greatly expanding the use of “work sharing” within our unemployment insurance system, as one means to lower the unemployment rate. John emphasized the importance of education and training for long-term prosperity but cautioned against seeing education and training as a solution to the immediate jobs crisis. Dean also took part in a webinar sponsored by the AFL-CIO, Americans for Financial Reform, the Communication Workers of America, The Main Street Alliance and Public Citizen to discuss how a Wall Street speculation tax could work as a tool for financial stability and economic recovery.

CEPR on the Return of the Housing Bubble

Along with the resurgence of the housing market have come concerns that new housing bubbles may be inflating. News outlets from across the nation — including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Nevada Public Radio, CNN Money, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and MSN Money — called on CEPR’s Dean Baker to provide expert analysis and commentary.

News from the CEPR Blogosphere:

Beat the Press

Dean responded to New York Times blogger Thomas Edsall on his write-up of a new measure of income developed by Cornell University Professor and AEI fellow Richard Burkhauser, which tries to wish away inequality.

Dean wrote about Washington Post columnist Fred Hiatt’s threat to hold hostage domestic discretionary spending (e.g. Head Start, education, infrastructure etc.) unless there are cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Dean takes the New York Times‘ Tyler Cowen to task on the impact of aging on living standards in other countries.


CEPR Domestic Intern Sheva Diagne wrote a post on how outdated regulations are excluding homecare workers excluded federal minimum wage and overtime requirements.

Economist David Rosnick wrote about the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget’s new online tool, “The Reformer,” and how it misinforms users in regards to Social Security’s Trust Fund. Also, Dean wrote about how the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act affects Social Security, concluding the “recognition of same-sex marriage would impose a burden on the program that could be met with an increase of 0.005 percent in both the worker and employer’s contribution to the program.” Dean and David also wrote a post that takes apart the narrative that spending on the elderly is coming at the expense of our children — a topic Dean has covered many times over at Beat the Press.

David also wrote a post on N. Greg Mankiw’s “Defending the One Percent” and how government interference in the free market generates wealth, not the popularity of the products Mankiw uses as examples.

The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber

CEPR International Communications Director Dan Beeton and Senior Associate for International Policy Alexander Main wrote about corruption within the Honduran police and a leaked State Department memo that suggests Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield tried to discourage investigators from State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security from investigating the circumstances in which four villagers were killed in a joint DEA-Honduran police counternarcotics operation in Ahuas, Honduras in 2012. Alexander also wrote a post on a letter from 21 U.S. Senate Democrats to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing “concern regarding the grave human rights situation and deterioration of the rule of law in Honduras” and questioning the State Department’s assessment that the Honduran government is taking measures to protect basic human rights and address abuses committed by security forces.

CEPR Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre and Dan Beeton put together a timeline of Venezuelan opposition reactions to the recent presidential elections. Dan wrote about opposition candidate Henrique Capriles’ shifting positions on the voter audit he originally demanded after the election of Nicholas Maduro in April.

Dan also wrote about the growing momentum among Latin American leaders and from drug policy, human rights and other organizations for a new counternarcotics policy and  alternatives to the decades-long, U.S.-led “war on drugs.”

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch

A recent post examines a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report examining USAID relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti find that just 31 percent of $651 million allocated has been spent, despite ongoing and pressing needs for housing, sanitation, and other basic services. The GAO also found that inaccurate cost estimates and delays led to an increase in the amount dedicated to providing shelter from $59 million to $97 million while at the same time “decreased the projected number of houses to be built by over 80 percent, from 15,000 to 2,649.”

Other posts this month offer new details on the government/UN cholera eradication plan, the urgent need for food aid reform, and Canada’s changing position on participation in MINUSTAH.

In Other CEPR News…

  • Ezra Klein on Washington Post’s Wonkblog praised Dean’s “The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive,” calling it “the right starting point for a smarter debate over what has caused inequality and what can be done about it.”
  • Also in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, Brad Plumer mentioned Kris Warner’s 2012 paper, “Protecting Fundamental Labor Rights: Lessons from Canada for the United States,” in a post on if private-sector unions have a future in the U.S.
  • Mark appeared on KPFK’s Strategy Sessions to discuss the ongoing Euro-crisis.
  • Alexander Main appeared on Al Jazeera English’s Inside Story Americas  to discuss the May 11, 2012, DEA-related shooting incident in Ahuas, Honduras.
  • In an op-ed for Truthout and the Huffington Post, Dean celebrated the imminent demise of Campaign to Fix the Debt’s assault on Social Security.
  • John Schmitt chaired a panel at a day-long conference on “The Future of Bargaining.” sponsored by Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. Janelle Jones attended a second Kalmanovitz conference on “The Future of Collective Action.” John and Janelle also joined hundreds of academics, activists, advocates, and unionists attending the third annual meeting of the Labor Research Action Network (LRAN), held at the Georgetown University School of Law.
  • Mark Weisbrot discussed the recent protests in Brazil on “The Big Picture” with Thom Hartmann, RT America, and HuffPost Live.
  • Rebecca Ray, Milla Sanes and John Schmitt’s No-Vacation Nation Revisited, released just before Memorial Day, continued to be cited in numerous articles about the United States’ lack of mandated paid vacation, including in Market Watch, The Oregonian, the Lansing State Journal, MSN Money and Fox Business.

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