Our projects are designed to empower policy makers to create positive change. With a focus on collaboration and outreach, we provide original, standards-based research on key policy issues.
SCEPA joined with the Economic Policy Institute on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff and policy experts on tax expenditures, or incentives given through the tax code without scrutiny by Congress.
SCEPA economists are working on the prospects for a more progressive economic order to emerge from the shock of the recession. They have published papers and documents that place current events in a longer-term context as well as policy proposals to deal with short-term concerns. They are also documenting the emerging discussion of how the discipline of economics is reacting to the Great Recession and the questioning of conventional economic analysis.
Lance Taylor, a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, presents an overview of his new book, Maynard’s Revenge, in a Google Tech Talk.
The book, published this November by Harvard University Press, is a timely analysis of mainstream macroeconomics, posing the need for a more useful and realistic economic analysis that can provide a better understanding of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The government spends $143 billion through tax breaks in an effort to expand pension coverage and security. Yet, over half of the American workforce does not have a pension. Retirement insecurity hurts business plans, workers’ lives and retiree well-being. Reform is needed.
SCEPA’s Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, has a plan to guarantee safe and secure retirement income for all Americans.
- Published on Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The Financial Times published a letter to the editor on May 14, 2012, by Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics and SCEPA Faculty Fellow. The letter, Bias for Workers Would foster Asia Trade," puts forward an argument that "Growing inequalities within Asian economies threaten the sustainability of growth and development for reasons not mentioned, most importantly the obstacle they create to generating a pattern ofdemand that absorbs locally produced goods and services."
Reddy not only diagnoses the problem, but puts forward a prescription: "One way to effect amore equal income dist bution and increase the roleof domestic demand in the growth process is to promote co-ordinated enhancementsin wages and labour standards across Asian countries. Such an approach would muteany adverse impact on the competitiveness of individua exporting countries and alsofoster regional trade. In the present situation, a bias in favour of workers cansimultaneously improve lives and make the aggregate pa ern of development moresustainable, in both Asia and the world."
- Published on Thursday, May 10, 2012
In a May 9, 2012 CNN Opinion piece, "401(k)s are Too Risky for Retirement," Yvonne Walker, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000, describes the risk to seniors as the three-legged stool of retirement - made up of traditional pensions, Social Security and individual savings - breaks down. Walker sites legislative proposals in California and New York City based on SCEPA's State GRA that would allow private-sector workers to enroll in state pension funds.
According to Walker, "If workers continue to be forced to play the dual role of employee and retirement actuary, stories of older workers like Edwards will not change for the better. We must work to improve and expand retirement options."
- Published on Friday, May 04, 2012
by Rick McGahey, SCEPA Faculty Fellow
In a close election, as this one is likely to be, every factor counts, and numbers like today's mean Obama has almost no margin for error.
The economy is a key to the election. Although analysts like Nate Silver are skeptical about predicting election results based on economic data, even he concludes that economic factors account for around 40 percent of election results. (One of the earliest predictive models based on economic factors was developed by Ray Fair, and you can play around with different election scenarios based on that model here.)
After last month's weak employment report, where job creation fell well below 200,000, many analysts (including me) were waiting to see if that was a one-month blip or whether employment and the economy were weakening. We had been on a relatively strong trend—between December and February, job growth averaged 252,000 per month, but fell to 154,000 in March.
This morning's April employment report presents sobering news that the trend is weakening—total nonfarm jobs only grew by 115,000, below the consensus forecast of 160,000, with slow growth or actual declines across all industries. Unlike earlier months, when declines in government employment were a cause of overall weakness, government employment stayed relatively flat. And the unemployment rate stayed roughly constant at 8.1 percent.
Coupled with last week's report that first quarter GDP slowed to 2.2 percent from its 3.0 percent rate in the last quarter of 2011, today's report suggests the U.S. recovery is running out of steam. The effects of the too-small stimulus package have just about worked their way through the economy, and there isn't much on the horizon that will stimulate growth.
On the government side, state and local governments continue to cut budgets and hold down spending and job creation. Goldman Sachs released a study in January estimating that the "fiscal drag" from government reductions in spending would take around 0.5 percentage points off of GDP this year. The Federal Reserve is signaling that they do not anticipate new policy interventions, with some regional Fed Presidents actually calling for interest rate increases. And election pressures coming from Republican calls in Congress to make further cuts in spending means that the Obama Administration will have to do everything it can simply to hold the line.
Today’s weak unemployment report will give heart to Republicans, and should cause substantial concerns among Obama supporters.