- 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 July 16, 2012, The Hindu publshed an opinion piece by SCEPA Faculty Fellow Sanjay Reddy, "Europe Should Not be Crucified on Euro's Cross," describing the motivation for the euro as a drive to create a global reserve currency. He describes the Triffin dilemma, which is when the surplus currency demanded on a global scale that would be required for a reserve currency will lead to the undermining of the currency because of the creation of a current account deficit in the economy of the reserve currency. Europe's current measures to curb the euro crisis have an ambiguous effect on current account balances, but austerity measures also risk an economic contraction. Reddy writes, "the lesson is to focus first on what really matters to the people of Europe and not on grandiose illusions. Ironically, doing so is what can also best revive the euro, whatever its future as a reserve currency. Europe should jettison the strong euro, which in the absence of sizeable current account surpluses, has been underpinned by an inflation averse central bank and the demand for fiscal austerity. Instead, it should promote viable European economies."
by Rick McGahey, SCEPA Faculty Fellow
Bob Dylan once sang "you ain't goin' nowhere," and that's the theme song for today's June employment report. We are badly stuck, with no obvious relief from either the Fed, or from fiscal policy. The political costs to Obama may be severe in November, while the long-term damage to the economy and to the unemployed will ripple through the economy for years to come.
The unemployment rate remains stuck at 8.2 percent, with another worse-than-expected job creation number of 80,000, well below forecasts that predicted job growth over 150,000. After a relatively strong first quarter, where job growth averaged 226,000 per month, the second quarter of 2012 has limped along with an average monthly job growth of 75,000.
This stagnant job market is, of course, bad news for Obama. To get the unemployment rate to even 8 percent by the November election, the economy needs to be creating around 144,000 jobs per month. To get unemployment down by a full percentage point—to 7.2 percent—in one year, we need about 211,000 jobs per month. (You can run scenarios for yourself with the Atlanta Fed's useful jobs calculator) We are nowhere close to either number, and with fiscal drag continuing from all levels of government, slowing economies in the developing world, and the ongoing crisis in the Euro zone, there isn't any likely candidate to stimulate growth.
The most maddening thing about the nation's policy deadlock is that we know what to do: increase government stimulus to create jobs. Economists are tearing their hair out at our inability to undertake sensible fiscal or monetary policies. Laura Tyson, head of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton, compares Obama's modest proposals to Mitt Romney's ideas, finding that Obama's policies would help job creation, while "Romney's proposals would have little or no effect – and some could even make matters worse." Brad DeLong and Larry Summers have put out a powerful argument in favor of stimulus, now coupled with longer-term deficit reduction. And Paul Krugman pulls no punches, entitling his new book, End This Depression Now.
In two recent articles, the Governing Institute cites work by SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci in bringing attention to the looming pension crisis for workers in the U.S. On June 14, 201 in the article "America's Looming Pension Shock," Governing's Director Mark Funkhouser discusses the effects of decreasing public pensions for workers as they reach retirement. He writes, "but Teresa Ghilarducci, director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School in New York City and author of "When I'm Sixty-Four: the Plot against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them," would tell these government leaders that cuts in government workers' pension benefits are contributing to another impending crisis that they should begin to think about." He continues by bringing attention to Ghilarducci's Guaranteed Retirement Accounts plan as a potential solution.
On June 28, 2012 in "The Very Public Private-Sector Retirement Problem," Governing's Penelope Lemov continues the discussion by writing about the inadequacy of 401(k) plans in providing a secure retirement income in the face of pension shortfalls and potential state-level solutions to address the crisis. She draws attention to recent legislation in California introduced by Senator de Leon that would allow workers without work-based retirement accounts, like a traditional defined benefit pension or a defined contribution 401(k), to automatically be included in a state-run plan. The plan has already been approved by the California State Senate, and if it passes through the State Assembly, SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci predicts, "a handful of states will follow suit quickly." Lemov cites Ghilarducci in noting that New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut are already considering similar plans.