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.
- Published on Tuesday, February 15, 2011
According to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the many high-level reports investigating the nation's budget omit one necessary analysis: how deficit reduction proposals will affect the nation's most economically vulnerable populations. To address this gap, the CBC formed its own debt commission to focus on the recession and the impact of deficit reduction proposals on communities of color and the nation at large.
SCEPA's Darrick Hamilton, an economist and professor at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, was invited to testify at the first-ever CBC Commission on the Budget Deficit, Economic Crisis, and Wealth Creation on January 28, 2011.
Hamilton's work focuses on the causes, consequences and remedies of racial and ethnic inequality in economic and health outcomes, which includes an examination of the intersection of identity, racism, colorism, and socioeconomic outcomes. He has published articles on disparities in wealth, homeownership, health and labor market outcomes.
- Published on Friday, February 11, 2011
Economist Aleksandr Gevorkyan, a former New School student and SCEPA research assistant, recently published the book Innovative Fiscal Policy and Economic Development in Transition Economies. Gevorkyan explores the problems of fiscal policy as an instrument of economic and social development in the modern environment, primarily focusing on the transition economies of Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia. Evaluating the transformational experience in these countries, he provides a critical analysis of the aftermath of the 1990s market liberalization reforms and outlines a roadmap for future development.
Gevorkyan is an Economist at Capco, a global financial consulting firm. Dr. Gevorkyan also teaches a range of financial economics and economic development topics at New York University and St. John's University. He has also taught in the graduate programs at The New School and MBA concentration at Long Island University. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from The New School for Social Research, New York.
- Published on Friday, February 11, 2011
As of late, policymakers and the media squarely blame public workers' pensions for the fiscal crises affecting some states and municipalities. With this in mind, New York City's Mayor Bloomberg proposed a reduction of public pension benefits to teachers, firefighters and policemen, cutting benefits to future and current retirees. Teachers would also forgo a guaranteed rate of return on tax-deferred annuities, instead of the current guarantee of seven percent.
Without a doubt, some states need to get their houses in order. In February, 2010, The Pew Center on the States released a landmark study identifying those facing daunting fiscal gaps due to underfunded state pensions. However, the cause of the red ink wasn't the pension's generosity or even budget shifting to cover urgent expenses in times of need. Rather, lawmakers decided to kick the can down the road during times of economic expansion and forgo contributions to the fund because of windfall gains on their investments. This largess became public when these same investments shrank and the bill came due.
Unfortunately, those responsible now sit silent as public anger, driven by "pension envy" and the relatively lousy state of private retirement plans, targets public workers instead of lawmakers' irresponsibility. This is largely why hardworking Americans, teachers, policemen and firefighters, are seeing their pensions under attack around the country.
But we need to be careful in our assessments. Not all states are the same. Illinois has a problem, and lawmakers are reaping the consequences of years of lax oversight and irresponsibility. However, New York entered the current recession with a fully funded pension system. Indeed, the Pew Center's report names New York as one of only four states that could claim a fully-funded fund in 2008.
Since then, New York's pension investments have taken a hit - along with all other investments - due to the recession. Yet, as stated by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities' report on the matter, "it is not appropriate to add ... longer term costs (i.e. related to bond issues, pension obligations and retiree health insurance) to projected operating deficits" (related to the day-to-day costs of municipal management and investment). For this reason, some of the numbers fueling the hype around public pensions are misleading.
Also, state budget holes do not mean pensions are adding to the debt. A recent Moody's report explained it best: "New York and California have high debt levels. But since they have well-funded pensions, they are not among the top states in terms of total liabilities as a share of the economy. That honor goes to Mississippi, Connecticut, West Virginia and Massachusetts, in addition to Hawaii."
We need to be careful with the many rushed road maps to reform – such as Mayor Bloomberg's - that are topping state and local agendas at the beginning of the budget season. Cutting benefits to workers while failing to address larger systemic fiscal and political failings is a short-sighted disservice to all of New York's stakeholders.