- 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.
Joe Nocera, New York Times business journalist and author, uses his April 27th column to relate an all-too-familiar tale of how he found himself at age 60 with a 'faith-based retirement' plan.
As a proponent of greater individual access to the markets in the mid-90's - he wrote a book on the subject, "A Piece of the Action" – Nocera acknowledges, "In the book, I didn't make much of the decline of pensions. After all, we were in the middle of the tech bubble by then. What fun!"
He then relates his personal experience of bubbles bursting and portfolio losses, a 401(k)-halving divorce, and costly home renovations. All this left him with a "401(k) plan, which was supposed to take care of my retirement...in tatters." He goes on,
"When I related my tale recently to Teresa Ghilarducci, a behavioral economist at The New School who studies retirement and investor behavior, she let out the kind of sigh that made it clear that she had heard it all before. The sad truth, she told me, is that I'm the rule, not the exception. "People have income shock, like divorce or loss of a job or a health crisis," and those crises tend to drain retirement accounts, she said.
That data starkly backs up Ghilarducci's contention. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, for instance, only 22 percent of workers 55 or older have more than $250,000 put away for retirement. Stunningly, 60 percent of workers in that same age bracket have less than $100,000 in a retirement account. Ghilarducci told me that the average savings for someone near retirement in America right now is $100,000. Even buttressed by Social Security, that's not going to last very long.
What, then, will people do when they retire? I asked Ghilarducci. "Their retirement plan is faith based," she replied. "They have faith that it will somehow work out."
But, for the millions of others who have discovered, as I have, that their original enthusiasm for investing was unwarranted, their faith-based retirement plan is all they've got left."
On April 25th, the California State Senate moved one step closer to passing legislation to create retirement accounts for California workers who do not have access to a retirement plan through their employer. The California Retirement Savings Act, introduced by State Senator Kevin de Leόn and modeled after Ghilarducci's State GRA proposal, was passed by the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations.
The legislation would create accounts for private-sector workers, pooling voluntary contributions from employees and employers into a professionally-managed retirement fund that leverages economies of scale and longer investment horizons.
SCEPA is proud to announce that the influential Journal of Applied Econometrics will publish a SCEPA Working Paper by the research team of Professors Christian R. Proano and Willi Semmler and Research Assistant Christian Schoder. The paper, "Are the Current Account Imbalances Between EMU Countries Sustainable?" challenges the conventional view held by, among others, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard, that rising European imbalances are an optimal response to financial market integration.
The authors argue that the introduction of the Euro as a common currency, without proper fiscal institutional arrangements, aggravated increasingly unstable growing external imbalances. In the current crisis, they hinder recovery in the southern European countries. They conclude that ambitious policy coordination among member states is required to overcome the crisis and offer policy recommendations to foster sustainable and even growth in the Euro Area.