- 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.
by Jeff Madrick, SCEPA Senior Fellow
For a few decades now, American economic policy has focused on keeping inflation low, assuming that the natural rate of unemployment is fairly high. In general, that has led to stagnating wages in America. Family income today is at 1990s levels. Hourly wages are at levels adjusted for inflation they first reached in the 1960s. The wage share has been falling. Some economists claim inequality is the bigger issue, most income gains going to the top. My own view is that inequality is a runaway of income for the very top and a better way to look at America's dilemma to focus on stagnation for the broad middle and bottom. The incomes at the top, which account for most of the inequality, are made in finance—much of which is games Wall Street plays with itself. For this brief piece, I will put that issue aside.
I will argue that there has been no clearer set of circumstance to demonstrate the need for strong and relatively equal wages than current economic disturbances in the world—no better economic case to be made for a thriving middle class. The possible collapse of the eurozone and the ongoing damage of America's mortgage bust, which has left the U.S. in a prolonged recession, can now focus our attention on wage deficiency in many nations.
You might be surprised to think Europe or even American financial distress is a wage problem, not a financial discipline problem. But it is time to think this through clearly. We are too often told that disciplined Germany must bail out undisciplined Greece, that America is angry at China's currency manipulation and China at America's profligate government deficits. We might almost believe this is the heart of the matter.
But at the center of the issue are low wage shares and/or inequality. And one reason the world's policymakers, technocrats and economists don't think about it clearly enough is that they focus too much on "supply " as the principal source of economic growth -- of machinery, ideas, technology, resources, and human capital quality labor. They focus far too little on demand as a source of economic growth.
So here is the brief version of this case...
by Willi Semmler, Professor of Economics, New School for Social Research
Fukushima has once again heated up the debate on the transition to renewable energy. Is green energy the answer to global warming, energy independence, and the prevention of Fukushima-like disasters? What are the difficulties in the transition to an economy based mostly on renewable energy? What is the time horizon for such a change? What are the economic and political obstacles to such a transition? If such a change is pursued, will the switch destroy jobs and raise taxes? Or can renewable energy create a green recovery with high level of employment?
On September 23 and 24, The New School hosted an international conference that gathered leading U.S. & E.U. government officials, geoscientists, policy analysts, politicians, business leaders and academics in New York to discuss how such a transition could take place and how such transition to renewable energy will affect the fragile U.S. and global economies. Panels focused on the future of nuclear power, the reality behind green jobs, the practicality of new technologies, and the tensions between developed and developing countries and the possible costs of such a transition. The participants included, among others, experts such as Ottmar Edenhofer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Hansen from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Peter Schlosser from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Artur Runge-Metzger from the European Commission and Mark Jacobson from Stanford University.
The beginning of the conference focused on new insights into the dynamic pattern of climate change. As argued by Peter Schlosser and Klaus Keller, there exists a broad consensus among geoscientists regarding the dynamic behavior of climate change and how the warming of the poles accelerates this processes. The notion of tipping points is crucial for understanding the pattern of climate change.
Similar to a glass of water falling off the edge of a table, after being just slightly pushed, the dynamics of climate change may suddenly accelerate in a way that cannot be easily reversed after a certain threshold is exceeded. Due to the melting of the poles and the collapse of the Meridional Overturning Circulation which both accelerate climate change, the tipping point may have been reached already. The role of the poles is crucial due to their feedback on the climate.
by Rick McGahey, SCEPA Faculty Fellow
This morning's report on October employment confirms two things. First, the economy is stuck, teetering on the edge of an actual downturn. Second, Barack Obama's presidency is in serious trouble.
The employment report shows more stagnation in the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate moved marginally downwards from 9.1 to 9 percent. And payroll employment increased by a net of 80,000 jobs, the lowest increase in four months. Private employment rose by 104,000, but governments at all levels lost 24,000 jobs, as the federal stimulus winds down, and state and local governments continue laying people off in the face of their continuing fiscal crisis.
Average monthly job growth in the third quarter was only 96,000, well below the first quarter's monthly average of 166,000 additional jobs. Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve underscored the continued slowing of the economy, downgrading their economic and employment forecast for 2012, predicting a GDP growth rate of between 2.5 and 2.9 percent, which is 0.8 percent lower than their last forecast, issued in June. The Fed expects unemployment to drop very slowly, and not get down to 8 percent for another two years.