- On Capitol Hill
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- 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.
A smaller share of older workers are officially looking for work. The unemployment rate for workers aged 55 to 64 was 3.6% in April, down 0.3 percentage points from March. Older men’s unemployment decreased from 4.0% to 3.8%, and older women’s unemployment decreased from 3.8% to 3.6%.
Older workers have lower official unemployment rates than the national average, but face stagnating wages, growing long-term unemployment, physically demanding jobs, and age discrimination. One widely-advocated solution is for the unemployed to create their own jobs by becoming self-employed.
But this is wishful thinking. The existing self-employed are workers who have, to a greater or lesser extent, chosen self-employment rather than entered it as a last resort. It does not follow that if the older unemployed attempt to become self-employed, they will succeed. Analysis of Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data, a nationally representative survey of older Americans shows:
- Few unemployed workers over 55 enter self-employment – only 5.7% during the period 2010-2012.
- The low rate of entry to self-employment likely reflects a lack of resources, rather than insufficient entrepreneurial zeal among older unemployed workers.
Median household-level financial assets of unemployed workers over 55 are only $2,000. In contrast, newly self-employed older workers have average financial assets of $25,000, and older employees $10,000. Unemployed workers are also less likely to have housing wealth to draw on. Only 71% of older unemployed workers are homeowners, compared with 87% of the newly self-employed and 83% of employees, and unemployed homeowners have less housing equity than the newly self-employed and employees. With only $2,000 to start a business and little collateral, the older unemployed are unlikely to be able to finance viable businesses. Instead, self-employment likely means taking insecure, low-paid work in the gig economy.
America’s older workers should be able to choose to leave the labor force after a lifetime of work. Policy proposals that call for cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age leave people at the mercy of a labor market unfriendly to older workers. Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs) open a path to retirement security by providing all workers retirement savings plans with guaranteed growth.
Yanis Varoufakis delivered SCEPA's annual Robert Heilbroner Memorial Lecture, "The Future of Capitalism" on Monday, April 25th, 2016.
We all know Varoufakis as the former Greek Finance Minister and media sensation who stood up to Europe in the fight against austerity. His lecture highlighted themes his new book, "And The Weak Suffer What They Must?," including the origins of a crisis that has affected not only Greece, but all of Europe.
The lecture was followed by a panel discussion featuring New School Professor of Economics Mark Setterfield and economics student Ebba Boye.
Varoufakis’ career has spanned academia, public service, and the private sector. After three decades in academia, he was elected to the Hellenic Parliament in 2015 as a member of the Syriza Party and became Minister of Finance in Alexis Tsipras’ government. He currently serves as professor of economics at the University of Athens and as a consultant for the Valve Corporation.
SCEPA's Robert Heilbroner Memorial Lecture on the Future of Capitalism:
The Heilbroner lecture honors the work of Robert Heilbroner, who was both a student and a professor in the economics department of The New School for Social Research. This event is dedicated to understanding questions of economic justice and how the profit-seeking activities of private firms might also serve broader social goals. To use Heilbroner’s words, “capitalism’s uniqueness in history lies in its continuously self-generated change, but it is this very dynamism that is the system’s chief enemy.”
The event was free and open to the public.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is ramping up its collaboration with climate change experts in the academic community - including SCEPA Economist Willi Semmler - to discuss how developing countries can meet the conditions of the United Nation’s Paris agreement.
As the director of SCEPA’s Economics of Climate Change project, which presents expert lectures and original research on the economic effects of climate policies, Semmler was invited to work with the IMF's research and policy teams. Last week, he presented two lectures before the IMF’s Division of Development Macroeconomics on modeling economic growth in the context of climate change and he is co-authoring research with New School PhD candidate Anthony Bonen and IMF staff.
Semmler is the Arnhold Professor of Economics at The New School and co-author of the Oxford Handbook of the Macroeconomics of Global Warming.