- 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.
The August 4, 2012 edition of the Indian magazine Economic & Political Weekly features a column by SCEPA Faculty Fellow Sanjay Reddy, "Hamlet Without the Prince: Politics and the Eurozone," about "political requirements of a successful fiscal and economic system." In his piece, he argues that the current Eurozone crisis was not just the result of "misguided technical arrangements and unanticipated economic shocks," but also "the 'democratic deficit' in the relation between the eurozone economic institutions and European society." Sanjay Reddy writes that the creation of the European Central Bank was "institutional substition" for European nations with weaker central banks to be more like the German Bundesbank. "At the broadest level, the lesson is that institutional substitution cannot by itself provide a long-term solution to problems which are manifested in weak pre-existing institutions. Only a political and social project aiming to change the conditions which made those institutions weak in the first place can ultimately succeed at creating institutions which do not suffer their deficiencies."
He concludes by saying that the solution to the Eurozone crisis does not lie in punitive measures such as current austerity policies. "A lasting solution to the eurozone's ills must be politically legitimate in order to be economically adequate. Attempting to address the economic problems of the eurozone without recognising the political requirements of a successful solution is like trying to stage a performance of Hamlet without the Prince."
On July 27, 2012, SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci joined American Public Media's Marketplace in a segment titled, "The 401(k) System Doesn't Work." She describes how our current, individual-based voluntary system for retirement doesn't work "because it expects individuals to know when when they will lose their job, get sick, get divorced, lose a spouse and eventually die."
She points out that "the coming retirement income security crisis was not caused by a set of isolated individual behaviors; the system was simply never realistic." Ghilarducci says that the solution to the problem lies in "government-mandated, guaranteed retirement accounts on top of Social Security," a proposal described by SCEPA's Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRA) plan.
Ghilarducci's comments on Marketplace are based on a July 21 column in the New York Times Sunday Review Opinion Pages, "Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement." The piece was also discussed in India's Economic Times, "Investment norms for National Pension System Should be More Liberal to Boost Returns for Investors," for an international perspective, and in partner content from The Nation on NPR,w hich discusses the implications for women's health in "Women's Health Takes Another Hit."
On July 31, 2012, SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci was interviewed on WNYC's the Takeaway about her recent opinion column the New York Times "Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement." In a segment titled "Has the American Retirement System Failed?" Ghilarducci discusses the findings of SCEPA's Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project - the implications of our inadequate retirement savings system based on individual retirement accounts, such as the 40(k), and what to do about it. She says that even with adequate planning under the current system, a period of sickness can wipe out any health or security a person has. Even with financial literacy, events can overtake people. This inevitably leads to a greater risk of falling into poverty for retired Americans. "After 85 you see people at a much greater risk of poverty than they ever have been in their whole lives. And many times, these are single women." She goes on to say that, "we have a system that practically guarantees that aging will be a gateway to poverty."
The inadequacy of the current system of retirment savings has gotten worse since the Great Recession. Ghilarducci tells the Takeaway that "the risk of poverty filtering up to the middle class" as the recession wiped out lots of near-retirees (ages 55 to 65) savings and work history. She says that "the spector we all saw of more and more retired americans moving into poverty has actually been moved up about 20 or 30 years."
For the past 30 years, the American system of retirment savings experiemented with people saving on their own. The experiment hasn't work. Teresa Ghilarducci says that "the solution doesn't fall on people knowing more or being more realistic, we need an expanded social security system that expects people to just be human beings, live their lives responsibly... We can't expect human being to act like spreadsheets." She concludes the interview by calling for an expansion of social security to include social security plus. "This generation of retirees or near retirees can still be helped."