- 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.
by Rick McGahey, SCEPA Faculty Fellow
If you heard a large "woosh" this morning from the direction of the White House, it wasn't an after-effect from Hurricane Sandy. It was a massive sigh of relief when President Obama's team saw this morning's release of the employment report for October. Jobs rose by a healthy (at least by current standards) 171,000, and the unemployment rate stayed below 8 percent, at 7.9. Employment rose in most sectors, while staying flat in manufacturing, where it has been since April.
The jobs numbers were revised upward for both August (+50,000) and September (+34,000), further adding to a picture of a strengthening economy. Consumer confidence in October was at its highest level since February 2008, and the Case-Shiller home price index rose for the fifth month in a row.
It should be noted that Hurricane Sandy had no effect on the employment report. Data for the unemployment report, which comes from a survey of households, was gathered before the hurricane, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that data gathered from businesses, which gives the jobs number, came in normally with no significant blips. The highly professional and apolitical staff at BLS worked hard to get the report out on time, to assure that no further conspiracy theories about manipulation of the numbers were put forward.
Right-wingers at Fox Nation and elsewhere already were setting up a story that BLS would delay the numbers for political reasons, but presumably that particular falsehood won't be used now in the run-up to Tuesday's election. Mitt Romney focused on the high unemployment rate, saying it was a "sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill."
And, truth be told, if these job and unemployment numbers were coming under a Republican president, Democrats and progressives would be hammering them. Although Republicans have blocked any modest job creating measures proposed by the Obama Administration, these numbers are still far too high. Even if the economy continues to add this many jobs every month, it will take over 3 years to get the unemployment rate to 6 percent.
Prospects for further stimulus and job creation are bleak even if Obama wins re-election; Washington's chatter is all about austerity and spending reductions. Progressives need to make the case for restoring full employment; a good place to start is with Robert Pollin's new book, Back to Full Employment and the blog he's established with other progressive economists (disclosure: including me) to create a dialogue on what policies we need to achieve that goal.
Even if Obama wins, the fight for real progressive economic policy is just beginning.
On October 4, 2012, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz gave a lecture at The New School on his latest book, “The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future." His presentation was followed by a discussion with SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci, Michael Cohen, director of The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs, and New School President David Van Zandt.
The decision of the Ford Motor Company to raise wages from $2 a day to $5 a day inspired economists to theorize about the efficiency wage – how much to pay workers to ensure productivity and profitability. At the same time as this dramatic wage increase, Ford Motor Company also invested in large-scale, state-of-the-art machinery for assembly line production. The legacy of the Ford Motor Company and their tactics to ensure high productivity raises deeper questions about what firms can do to motivate workers to maximize profits.
The SCEPA Working Paper, “Work Effort, Firm Closure and Signaling through Excess Capacity Investment,” by New School PhD candidate Johann Jaeckel, addresses these questions. Are workers still motivated to work hard if they believe the company may close? How does the motivation of workers change when they have more or less information about the probability that a company will close? Does the purchasing of new equipment signal to workers that a firm is unlikely to go out of business and therefore impact the effort of workers?
This research is part of the Sustainability, Distribution and Stability Project supported by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and seeks to contributes to our understanding of motivations for technical change.