- On Capitol Hill
- On Wall Street
- In the Press
- Policy Reform Work
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.
On October 3, 2014, SCEPA hosted a discussion with economist and author Thomas Piketty (included in economist Brad DeLong's blog as a "Must Watch"). Piketty's best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, serves as a watershed example of the dual contradictions of capitalism and proves that the last century was characterized by a sharp divergence between social classes. He warns that the main driver of inequality—the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth—threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values.
Much like Piketty's work, economists at The New School for Social Research strive to analyze the dynamics of capitalism using historical and empirical analysis and, through SCEPA, its policy implications. Following Piketty's remarks, New School Professor Anwar Shaikh and Executive Director and Chief Economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth Heather Boushey presented their own comments and joined in a panel discussion to answer the question, where do we go from here?
Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century
Anwar Shaikh, Inequality and Social Structure: Comments on Piketty
Heather Boushey, Comments on Piketty
Do government programs help the economy?
Looking at data from 1971 through 2012, a SCEPA Working Paper, 'How 401(k) Plans Make Recessions Worse' (soon to be published in a research volume by the Labor and Employment Relations Association), found that Social Security, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, Medicare and federal taxes are indeed good for the economy. Specifically, these programs have a stabilizing effect on the economy. By increasing consumer spending in recessions and reducing it in times of expansion, they dampen the wild swings of the business cycle.
On the other hand, 401(k) plans are destabilizing to the economy. They reduce consumer spending in recessions as savers lose 401(k) wealth in the stock market, and they increase spending in expansions when inflated 401(k) accounts make people feel wealthier.
Consumer spending is important because it translates into jobs. During a recession when overall spending is down, the unemployment rate rises. But Social Security, disability insurance, Medicare, income taxes, and unemployment insurance keep the unemployment rate from rising even higher.
Christina Romer and David Romer also found that Social Security and other government transfer payments have a positive impact on consumption in their paper, Transfer Payments and the Macroeconomy: The Effects of Social Security Benefit Changes, 1952-1991. SCEPA's research takes this one step further by documenting how 401(k) plans reduce the efficacy of these automatic stabilizers and result in higher unemployment rates during recessions.
Rethinking Economics is a global movement to create fresh economic narratives that challenge and enrich the predominant narratives in economics. The movement unites all who support new ways of thinking. The Rethinking Economics conference asked students to consider economic schools of thought beyond the mainstream neo-classical approach. The conference focused on the concept of economic pluralism: the belief that economics should be a more interdisciplinary subject that embraces useful ideas from various schools of thought and subject fields. The New York conference brought together students and thinkers from North America in order to engage in student-led workshops and a series of interesting speakers including Deirdre McCloskey, Philip Mirowski, Michael Sandel, Dean Baker, Richard Wolff, Julie Nelson, Paul Krugman, Neva Goodwin, James Galbraith and many more.