- 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.
Teresea Ghilarducci, director of SCEPA and a nationally-recognized expert in retirement security, was featured in an August 15th NPR story, "401 (k) Nation: Road To Retirement Gets Rockier" by Scott Neuman. The article traces the history of the 401(k) through its development 30 years ago under Reagan and documents the effects of Americans' increased dependence on the stock market for their retirement security. For example, of an estimated 60 million 401(k) participants, 87% have at least a portion of their portfolio in stocks, according to the Investment Company Institute, or ICI, a national association of U.S. investment companies. Four out of 10 401(k) participants have upwards of 80% in stocks.
Ghilarducci states, "while 401 (k)s have turned average Americans into investors, they still act like human beings. They panic." She characterizes 401(k)s as, "do-it-yourself pensions," noting that, "most investors can't afford truly independent advice, so instead they rely on brokers who themselves have a conflict of interest." Ms. Ghilarducci explains, "They are getting marketing advice in the form of education. We haven't learned anything."
New York City Comptroller John Liu has published a new study, Sustainable Or Not? NYC Pension Cost Projections Through 2060, to provide a projection for understanding how pension obligations will affect New York City's future budget if current laws relating to municipal pensions remain in place and if historical economic trends remain largely intact.
The major findings of the study are:
1. After short term increases, pension costs will decline as a percentage of the city's expenditures due to the introduction of new, less expensive benefit plans that became effective between 1995 and 2009.
2. Over time, police and fire pension funds will experience the most significant decreases in employer contributions due to the enacted changes.
3. By FY 2060, city contributions to employee pension funds will represent about 3.3 percent of the city's general fund expenditures, compared to 10.6 percent in FY 2010.
The research was conducted by the NYC Comptroller's Office, using data from the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs), the actuarial valuations of each of the retirement systems, and fiscal notes issued in relation to benefit enhancement legislation. The study was independently verified by actuaries from the Hay Group.
The report is the third in a series of research published as part of Retirement Security NYC, a major initiative launched by Comptroller John C. Liu to protect the retirement security of public employees while ensuring the City's financial health. The project's previous reports investigate the question of whether or not municipal workers are paid more than private sector workers and an analysis of how poor market performance during the recession is the biggest factor in the escalation of city pension costs.
Sanjay Reddy, an Associate Professor of Economics at The New School for Social Research and a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, was quoted in an article by the Inter Press Service (IPS) titled, "Economic Development Leaving Millions Behind," by Kanya D'Almeida. The article describes the work of the Society for International Development (SID)'s triennial World Congress that took place in Washington, DC, from July 29-31, 2011. The event was centered around the theme, "Our Common Challenge: A World Moving Toward a Sustainable Future."
Professor Reddy served as a panelist on the topic of sustainable human development. IPS quotes Reddy's comments, "What we need is a much more profound concern with how we can bring about structural changes in our economies and societies. When we talk of 'sustainability' we are [often discussing] what would be required to maintain certain levels of consumption for human beings with the notion that that level of consumption which is sustained should be as high as possible. We'll have to define the goal much more broadly if we are concerned with non-human life, with sentient beings or if we believe that there are other obligations that humans have on earth which go beyond what human beings can derive from the earth for our own satisfactions."
For more information, please read Professor Reddy's blog post on the SID website, "Sustainable Human Development: Beyond the Concept."