- On Capitol Hill
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- 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.
In conversation with INET’s Lynn Parramore, New School Economics Professor Lance Taylor breaks down what’s wrong with the current debate on inequality and what to do about it.
Taylor is critical of the mainstream approach to inequality advanced by economists Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty. According to Taylor, Piketty’s celebrated book on inequality, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” relies heavily on an economic model that was discredited in the 1960s.
Taylor’s issue with the model Piketty uses goes back to the Cambridge Capital Controversies of the 1960s, when economists at MIT and Cambridge were at loggerheads over two fundamental economic questions. One was whether income distributions are formed by purely economic factors, or if social relations play a role. The other was whether it makes sense from a technical perspective to use an economy-wide capital stock in economic modelling. For Taylor, social relations are important and an all encompassing capital stock is problematic.
But much of the economics profession tacitly assumes the opposite positions, including Piketty.
This often leads to a confusion between the causes and the symptoms of inequality. For example, Stiglitz believes that economic rents, such as high costs of real estate, are a driver of income inequality. For Taylor, soaring property values in New York and London are a consequence of economic inequality, whose true causes can be traced to financialization and the erosion of workers’ power.
Taylor has been developing a model of economic growth and distribution that does not rely on what he considers Piketty’s questionable assumptions. He believes it is possible to reverse the trend of growing inequality in the U.S., but doing so will require more than redistribution through the tax code. We’ll need to promote socialized investment and redistribute power back to the working class.
“Capitalism: Competition, Conflict and Crisis” is a new book on modern capitalist economies by Anwar Shaikh, professor and chair of the economics department at The New School for Social Research.
Based on fifteen years of research, Shaikh documents how standard economic assumptions - perfect competition, perfect firms, perfect knowledge and rational expectations - don’t describe or reflect reality.
Instead, he does something new. He develops theory from real behavior and real competition. From this fresh and practical perspective, he redefines conventional economic ideas such as supply and demand, wage and profits, growth, unemployment, inflation, inequality, and the recurrence of economic crises to offer an alternative framework for understanding the economics of capitalism. Below is the video recording from his book launch.
Shaikh is a professor of economics at the New School for Social for Social Research. He is an associate editor of the Cambridge Journal of Economics, and was a senior scholar and member of the Macro Modeling Team at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College from 2000 to 2005. In 2014, he was awarded the NordSud International Prize for Literature and Science from Italy’s Fondazione Pescarabruzzo. His intellectual biography appears in the most recent edition of Eminent Economists II published by Cambridge University Press (2014), along with similar essays from thirty prominent economists including seven current Nobel Prize Laureates.
Older Unemployed Workers Take Longer to Find Jobs than Younger Workers
The unemployment rate is falling for workers in all age groups. For workers over 55, today’s jobs report from the Department of Labor shows an unemployment rate of 3.2% in December, a decrease of 0.5 percentage points from last month.
While this is good news overall, if an older worker is out of a job, it will take 10 weeks longer to find a new one than their younger counterparts. In 2007, the average time spent unemployed for workers 55+ was 23 weeks, compared to 20 weeks for younger workers, a gap of three weeks. In 2015, the gap increased three fold to ten weeks, with older workers spending 36 weeks looking for a job compared to 26 weeks for younger workers.
Whatever the cause, be it age discrimination or biased job training programs, older workers are less able to recover from the shock of losing a job. As their time looking for work stretches out, many turn to early retirement as an escape, paying a high price in decreased standards of living due to inadequate savings. Cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age will fuel the increase in older workers’ income vulnerability. Systemic change requires a comprehensive program in the form of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts to ensure older workers have the retirement income needed to leave the labor market when they chose.