Blog postings by CEPR staff and updates on the latest briefings and activities at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

While attention has been focused on the activities of that great vampire squid, Goldman Sachs, investment firm BlackRock has been quietly taking over the American economy. In a presentation scheduled for 2:30 pm on Saturday, January 7 at the Labor and Employment Relations Association meetings at the Palmer House in Chicago, Professor Gerald Davis of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business documents the extensive reach of BlackRock. Aided by the growth of defined contribution pension plans and abetted by the weakness of other financial services firms, notably Barclay’s, during the financial crisis, BlackRock catapulted into first place in 2011 among the top holders of large blocks of shares of publicly-traded companies in the US. With $3.5 trillion in assets under management that they invest on behalf of their clients, the company has become the world’s largest investor. BlackRock manages assets for institutions such as pension funds and mutual funds, and its iShares business is popular with both retail investors and hedge funds who delegate all proxy votes for their iShares to BlackRock.

Among Professor Davis’ startling findings:

  • Ownership of US corporations is no longer highly dispersed.
  • In 2011 BlackRock held a 5% stake in 1,803 US listed companies. This is almost triple second place Fidelity’s 677 companies and more than triple third place Vanguard’s 524 companies.
  • As a result of changes in the nature of equity markets – the growth of exchange traded funds (ETFs) and the decline in the number of new firms going public (IPOs) –  the number of publicly-traded corporations has dropped by half since 1997 to about 4,300 listed US companies in 2011.
  • BlackRock owns a 5 percent stake in more than two-fifths of publicly-traded US companies.

Professor Davis concludes: “Prospects for control of corporations by financial institutions have never been this high in a century.”


A July 2011 ruling by the DC Circuit Court vacated the SEC's 2010 proxy rule that allowed long-term shareholders’ that own at least 3% of a company’s shares to nominate directors.

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As states get ready for cuts to the federal Extended Benefits program, those who have been unemployed the longest get ready for their struggle to become even more difficult. Our most recent recession has caused an unprecedented increase in the number of people unemployed for at least six months. In our new paper, John Schmitt and I make the case for two significant changes to our thinking on long-term unemployment.

First, we suggest expanding the current discussion on long-term unemployment to include all workers facing “long-term hardship” in the labor market. This broader category would include “discouraged,” “marginally attached” and involuntary part-time workers. While these workers are not included in the long-term unemployment rate, they have faced a good deal of long-term hardship in recent years due to the weak labor market. The figure below shows that the number of people facing long-term hardship, by this expanded definition, is more than double the amount of long-term unemployed.


Second, we suggest adding an alternative to the standard measure of long-term unemployment, which calculates the share of the unemployed who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.  The alternative measure would express those same individuals as a share of the total labor force. As we show in our paper, this alternative measure has several features to complement the standard long-term unemployment rate. Add a comment

In September and October of 2011, several restaurant chains owned by private equity firm Sun Capital – Friendly’s, the iconic ice cream parlor and family restaurant, SSI Group, which operates Grandy’s and Souper Salad restaurants, and Real Mex, which operates El Torito Restaurant and Chevys Fresh Mex – all entered bankruptcy. In the case of Friendly’s, Sun Capital sought to use the bankruptcy proceedings to write off debt and to rid itself of the company’s pension obligations to its nearly 6,000 employees and retirees while continuing to own the restaurant chain. Immediately after Friendly’s entered bankruptcy another Sun Capital affiliate announced its intention to acquire Friendly’s. With less than two months between the bankruptcy announcement and the date set for the auction of Friendly’s, no other bidders came forward. On December 29 Judge Kevin Gross approved the sale and Sun Capital closed out 2011 allowed to “buy” Friendly’s in a “credit-bid” sale – that is, Sun Capital got to hold onto ownership of Friendly’s just by wiping out a $75 million loan it had made to Friendly’s and assuming Friendly’s liabilities. A key part of Sun Capital's restructuring plan is to shift liability for Friendly’s pension plan to the federal government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Generally, PBGC does not require companies to make good on pension plans they can no longer afford. But in an unusual move, PBGC accused Sun Capital of fraud and announced that it will fight Sun Capital's attempt to stick US taxpayers with the bill. PBGC objects to what appears to be a transparent effort by Sun Capital to take advantage of the bankruptcy process to abandon pension obligations while continuing to keep its ownership of Friendly's.

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In response to widespread concern in both the House and Senate over human rights abuses involving the Honduran police and military, the United States Congress has placed new conditions on a portion of U.S. police and military aid to Honduras.   The legislative language that establishes these new conditions can be found in the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriation Actwithin the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which was passed by Congress on December 16.  It now requires that, before allocating 20% of the funds allocated for Honduras, the State Department must investigate and report back to the Committee on Appropriations whether the Honduran government "is implementing policies to protect freedom of expression and association, and due process of law," whether it is prosecuting "military and police personnel who are credibly alleged to have violated human rights,” and whether the Honduran police and military "are cooperating with civilian authorities in such cases."  

The human rights situation in Honduras has steadily deteriorated since the military coup d’etat that led to the forced removal of the country’s elected president in June 2009.  Honduras currently has the highest homicide rate in the world and, since 2010, at least 17 journalists have been assassinated, the majority of whom were critical of the coup.  Dozens of anti-coup political activists have also been killed, as well as union leaders, LGBT activists and Afro-indigenous representatives. In the northeastern Bajo Aguan region, forty-two land rights advocates have been murdered since the 2009 coup.  Honduran military and police have been allegedly implicated in a number of the many political murders and other politically-motivated acts of violence that have taken place since the coup.  Only a tiny number of these crimes have been investigated or prosecuted.

In October, police agents charged with killing two unarmed students, including the son of the Rector of the National Autonomous University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa, were briefly detained and then let go.   Earlier this month, a prominent critic of the police, Alfredo Landaverde, was murdered in broad daylight in Tegucigalpa by unidentified assailants.  On December 5th, President Lobo signed a decree allowing the military to take on policing functions for a period of 90 days.

Though the U.S. administration has not commented on Honduran police and military involvement in human rights abuses, concern over U.S. support for the country’s security forces has grown in Congress.  In July, 87 members of the House of Representatives called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to suspend police and military assistance to Honduras.  On November 28, Howard Berman – the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee – sent a letter to Secretary Clinton which expressed “grave concern” regarding the “role of Honduran state security forces in human rights abuses.”  The letter called on Clinton to “evaluate immediately United States assistance to ensure that we are not, in fact, feeding a beast.”

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The following papers are highlights this week in labor market policy research:   


The Year in Review: What 2011 Meant for the 99%
Tamara Draut and David Callahan

Employment Policy Research Network

A Jobs Compact for America
Thomas A. Kochan

UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

Project Labor Agreements in Los Angeles
Lauren D. Appelbaum

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The following highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.

CEPR on Latvia
CEPR’s recent paper,  “Latvia's Internal Devaluation: A Success Story?” by CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot and Research Associate Rebecca Ray, concludes that Latvia’s deep recession and slow recovery hold important lessons for other eurozone countries that may rely on an “internal devaluation” in an attempt to boost their economies through exports.  According to Mark, “The economic and social costs of Latvia’s economic strategy since the global financial crisis and world recession of 2008-2009, of ‘internal devaluation,’ have been enormous for the people of Latvia,” not the least of which have been the high unemployment and other harmful impacts on working people that are inherent to such “internal devaluations.” “The case of Latvia has important implications for the current debate on the eurozone crisis, since similar pro-cyclical policies are being implemented in a number of countries,” Mark concludes.

The paper received a great deal of press, both in Europe and the United States, including this mention by Paul Krugman and it was the focus of this story in The Guardian and this article on CBS’ Moneywatch. The paper was also widely discussed in the Latvian Press.

CEPR on the Eurozone
CEPR has written extensively on the ongoing eurozone crisis, having a significant influence on the policy debate. In columns for Al Jazeera and The Guardian, Co-directors Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot were among the first to suggest that if the European Central Bank (ECB) were to continue to refuse to fulfill its mission as a lender of last resort then the U.S. Federal Reserve should consider doing so, since the impact of the eurozone crisis is already projected to slow the U.S. economy. This helped to push the Fed to reduce emergency dollar borrowing costs for European banks, which Dean and Mark praised in this joint press release, though they added that more needs to be done. Dean and Mark each wrote about the ECB’s role in perpetuating the crisis as well. The ECB, they point out, could end the crisis at any time. However, Dean suggests that the ECB may be prolonging the crisis in order to extract painful austerity concessions from weaker eurozone countries.

CEPR staff took to the airwaves as well. Mark was interviewed about the eurozone on Al Jazeera, PRI’s The World, and CTV (Canada), while CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt discussed the Fed’s response on the Rick Smith radio show [MP3].

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According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports on the consumer price, U.S. import/export price and producer price indexes, the Consumer Price Index was unchanged in November and has grown at a 0.8 percent annualized rate over the last three months. Energy prices fell 1.6 percent last month, dropping below prices in March of this year. Core inflation rose 0.2 percent, only slightly faster than the 0.1 percent reported in October (0.17 percent compared with 0.14 percent.) Over the last six months, core prices grew at a 2.2 percent annualized rate.

There continues to be weak inflationary pressures in the economy, with a rebounding dollar that is helping keep import prices low and a decrease in the real hourly wage.

For an in-depth analysis, check out the latest Prices Byte.

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This post is part of a month-long discussion on Cato Unbound on John Maynard Keynes.

After Tim Congdon’s response to my earlier piece, I am a bit confused what we are debating. First, to finish up the simplest point, Congdon’s original post expressed unhappiness about President Obama’s $800-billion-a-year fiscal stimulus. I pointed out that it was actually closer to $300 billion a year. Now Congdon has come back with data from the International Monetary Fund showing the structural deficit was almost $800 billion higher in 2011 than in 2007.

That’s fine, except that most of the increase in the structural deficit (measured as a share of GDP) came in 2008, under President Bush’s watch. Fiscal 2009 began in October of 2008, which means that one-third of the fiscal year was over before President Obama entered the White House. I don’t work for President Obama, and furthermore I am not troubled by someone raising the deficit in response to an economic collapse, but I just don’t understand the logic of his assertion: “In that sense they [the Obama administration] did endorse a fiscal boost that amounted to almost $800 billion, at an annual rate, relative to the last recession-free year of 2007.” Most of this boost was the result of President Bush’s policies.

I referred in my original note to research that indicated the stimulus was as effective as, or even somewhat more effective than, had been predicted. Congdon responds by saying:

Like Milton Friedman, I reject this sort of analysis. As Friedman said in a 1996 … “I believe it to be true…that the Keynesian view that a government deficit is stimulating is simply wrong. A deficit is not stimulating because it has to be financed, and the negative effects of financing it counterbalance the positive effects, if there are any, on spending.”

Read the rest of the post here at Cato Unbound.

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While interest in a financial speculation tax, also known as a financial transaction tax (FTT), is picking up in the United States, the European Union is getting close to actually approving a tax. As part of this process, the European Commission (EC) had its staff put together a model that would project its impact on investment and growth.

This model, which the staff admits is very much a work in progress, projected that in the long-run the tax would lead to a 1.76 percent decline in output. Opponents of the tax were quick to seize on this projection as a basis for opposing the tax.

As I noted earlier, there are good reasons for questioning this projection from the model. It implies that the cost of financial transactions (a tax would have no different effect than brokerage fees and other trading costs) have an extraordinarily large impact on growth and productivity growth. This is completely at odds with nearly all of the economic literature on growth, which does not mention financial transactions costs at all.

Extrapolating from the model, the decline in the average cost of financial transactions in the United States over the last three decades would explain close to 15 percent of the productivity growth in over this period. If this is true, then the U.S. should anticipate slower productivity growth in the years ahead, since there is little room for transactions costs to decline further, now that they getting close to zero. (The Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget have not incorporated any such slowdown into their growth projections.)

Another implication of the EC model’s projection is that the U.K. could quickly see a jump in its GDP of close to 9 percent if it got rid of its 0.5 percent tax on stock trades. It is unlikely that anyone really believes this. Of course, if the EC model’s projections are accurate then the UK should have seen its GDP increase by close to 9 percentage points above its baseline in the years following 1986. That was the year it lowered its tax from 1.0 percent to 0.5 percent. (There was no increase in growth that was close to this size.)

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Not long after I first came to Washington 20 years ago I was at a conference dealing with Social Security privatization. One of the panelists used a number for the administrative costs of private accounts that was far lower than the numbers I had seen in the literature. After the panel, I asked one of the other panelists about her best estimate of the administrative costs of private accounts. She said that this depended on whether I was interested in advocacy or policy.

I was somewhat taken aback by her response, but after a moment I told her that I was interested in accuracy. I have always felt that this is the best approach to policy questions.

Accuracy has not featured prominently in Washington budget debates in recent decades. There is an enormous amount of misunderstanding about the deficit, much of it deliberately promoted by politicians. We hear endless tales of out-of-control government spending and chronic deficits. This is nonsense as the data clearly show, but unfortunately both parties have an interest in promoting the deceptions.

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This post is part of a month-long discussion on Cato Unbound on John Maynard Keynes.

Tim Congdon covers a lot of ground in his essay on Keynes, Krugman, and the liquidity trap. I will narrow my focus to the current crisis and the relevance of Keynes to the policies being pursued.

First, it is important to focus on an issue where there should really be no grounds for disagreement: the size of the stimulus and its expected impact. Contrary to what Congdon states in his piece, the stimulus was closer to $300 billion a year (@ 2 percent of GDP) in 2009 and 2010, not $800 billion a year. The total stimulus package came in at close to $800 billion. Nearly $100 billion involved a technical fix to the alternative minimum tax, which is done every year and has nothing to do with stimulus. Approximately $100 billion was slated to be spent after 2010 in longer term projects. This leaves $600 billion, or roughly $300 billion to be spent in both calendar years, 2009 and 2010.

The expected impact of the stimulus can be determined by reading what the Obama administration was saying about it at the time. The projections in the paper by Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein, which outlined the original proposal, showed that they expected it to create just 3.7 million jobs. The package that they got through Congress was smaller and less oriented toward spending than their original proposal, so the number of jobs projected would have to be adjusted downward accordingly.

Read the rest of the post here at Cato Unbound.

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On Saturday, Dec. 3 – while most of the U.S. media was focused on the political demise of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and the growing financial meltdown in Europe – the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was officially launched at a summit in Caracas, Venezuela.  The new regional organization includes every nation in the Western Hemisphere with the exception of the United States and Canada and is seen by many as a potential rival to the region’s foremost multilateral organization, the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS).  Though it generated a great deal of media attention within Latin America and was attended by the majority of the hemisphere’s heads of state, the U.S. press largely overlooked the Caracas summit with, for instance, the New York Times limiting its coverage to a brief 100 word blurb from the Associated Press. 

The minimal coverage that the summit garnered in the U.S. media was mostly limited to reports that downplayed the significance of the new regional bloc.  It was depicted in some articles as “Chávez’s baby” and – according to one U.S. pundit – “will probably last as long as Chávez is willing to underwrite it.”  Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer insisted in a headline that the “Group will have no Teeth.” Based on conversations with a White House official and a representative of a right-wing Latin American government, Oppenheimer was able to determine with certainty that CELAC “will hardly make it into the history books.”

As is typically the case with U.S. media coverage of Latin American politics, reporters and commentators appeared incapable of recognizing yet another watershed development in a region that has undergone major political transformations over the last dozen years.  In this, they closely resemble the U.S. administration which – under Barack Obama as much as under George W. Bush – has failed to acknowledge these transformations and maintained the same stale policies that have been in place for decades.  On Dec. 2, while the Caracas summit was in full swing, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner confidently stated that the OAS remains “the pre-eminent multilateral organization speaking for the hemisphere.”  Many Latin Americans would take exception at the notion that the OAS “speaks for the hemisphere” and with CELAC now steaming ahead again, following a brief hiatus, it appears increasingly likely that the aging organization will fade into irrelevance.

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Today is the first day of a week-long protest, “Take Back the Capitol” (#99inDC). A collaborative effort between grassroots organizations, Occupy movements and unions, this protest strives to bring attention to the amount of corporate control in politics, and demand that Congress represent the 99%. Today the protesters will arrive in the District and begin to set up the “People’s Camp,” located at 14th and Constitution Ave. NW. This will be the protestors’ home base, while they move about DC with a busy five-day agenda, including scheduled protests on Capitol Hill and K Street.

With many local governments recently ordering evictions of #ows camps, Take Back the Capitol’s short term stay is a smart tactic. The movement has great timing - unemployment insurance extensions are up for difficult debate on the Hill, and Take Back the Capitol is bringing the focus back to the job crisis, and getting Americans back to work. The unemployment rate did fall by 0.4 percentage points in November – however, this is no cause for celebration. A main factor for this decrease is that many Americans, mostly women, dropped out of the labor force - for more info on the latest unemployment numbers, check out CEPR’s recent Jobs Byte.

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My friends at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts did a new study examining the evidence on the military spending fairy. The issue at hand is the whine heard across the country that cuts in military spending will cost jobs.

In a severe downturn like the current one, cuts in any government spending will cost jobs, the question is how many. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment requirement tables, they find that on a per dollar basis spending on health care or energy conservation creates 50 percent more jobs than spending on the military. Spending on education creates more than twice as many jobs as spending on the military.

In other words, if the point of spending is to create jobs, then the military is the last place that we would want to put our dollars. But, many in Washington believe in the military spending fairy who blesses the dollars spent on the military with unmatched job creating power that has no basis in normal economic analysis.

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EPRN, NELP, and PERI recently released new labor market policy reports.

Employment Policy Research Network

Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States
Harry Holzer

National Employment Law Project

State Reforms Promoting Employment of People with Criminal Records: 2010-11 Legislative Round-Up
Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, Elizabeth Farid, and Nicole Porter

Political Economy Research Institute

The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update
Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier

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According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment report, 315,000 people left the labor market in October. This move pushed the unemployment rate down by 0.4 percentage points to 8.6 percent. BLS' establishment survey also showed a weaker-than-expected 120,000 job gain for October, but this bad news was largely offset by upward revisions of 72,000 to the job growth numbers for the prior two months.

The drop in labor force participation was entirely among women, especially black women. Participation numbers among white women fell by 0.2 percentage points to 199,000. The drop among black women was 164,000, a drop of 1.2 percentage points. These monthly numbers are highly erratic, and it is likely that at least part of this drop will be reversed in future months. Nonetheless there had been a trend of declining participation rates among both white and black women even prior to the November plunge. This suggests that there is a real issue of women losing access to jobs; although the December figures may show some reversal.

For more in-depth analysis, read the latest Jobs Byte.

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As a follow up to our Tuesday post on government regulation and mass layoffs, we highlight another Washington Post article helping debunk the myth that government regulation is smothering job creation. Suzy Khimm recently wrote a piece for the Post’s Wonkblog about barriers to small business success. A study conducted by the Hartford Financial Services Group asked small businesses what, in their opinion, was the biggest threat to their success.


Source: The Hartford Group via the Washington Post Wonkblog

As the graph above shows, the biggest barriers to success for businesses that identify as “slightly-” or “moderately successful” are those that have to do with a lack of demand: "the economy," “customers have no money" or "no clients or work." Even about 10 percent of businesses who identify as “extremely successful” pinpointed the economy as their main obstacle. Khimm notes that most of the “extremely successful” businesses identify government regulation as the culprit (11.4 percent) and explains that as businesses become more successful, they become more likely to identify problems other than the economy as the major roadblock to their further success.

The Hartford findings are completely consistent with the data on mass layoffs that we presented on Tuesday, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) data, discussed earlier here at the CEPR Blog.

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The following highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.

CEPR on the Eurozone
As the eurozone debt crisis continues to deepen, CEPR Co-directors Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker released this joint statement calling for the Federal Reserve to intervene where the European Central Bank (ECB) won’t, and stabilize European bond markets by buying Italian and Spanish bonds – and other sovereign bonds as necessary – thereby lowering interest rates on these bonds. Dean followed up with this piece in Al-Jazeera that expands on the argument for why such intervention may be needed, Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum was interviewed about it on Canada’s Business News Network, and Mark was interviewed for this piece that appeared in the Global Post.

CEPR has written extensively on Greece, Italy, the ECB and the future of the eurozone. CEPR’s research has had an influence on the debates, as evidenced by this article on CBS’s Moneywatch blog that references CEPR’s work on Argentina as a possible model for Greece, and this debate that Mark Weisbrot did opposite Dutch MEP Corien Wortmann-Kool with Channel 4 in the U.K. Mark also debated University of Bologna economist Paolo Manasse, in this video for The Real News Network.

Mark, who has appeared repeatedly on NPR, PBS, the BBC, and other media outlets to discuss the eurozone crisis over the past year, has continued to write attention-grabbing columns on the topic, such as this one for The Guardian, which argues that the ECB’s ideological commitment to austerity is driving the crisis deeper. Dean made a similar case against the ECB’s policies in columns for The Guardian and Al-Jazeera, and discussed these ideas on Irish national radio (RTE) and Pacifica’s KPFK among others.

Mark took this important analysis to Europe, where he presented at a conference in Riga, Latvia organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Mark’s participation was widely covered in the Latvian media, and he was interviewed by numerous TV, radio, and newspaper outlets. Videos of Mark’s presentation, and a post-presentation interview, are available here.

Mark also participated in a discussion titled “The Future of Europe - How to Solve the Euro Crisis?” sponsored by the Georgetown University European Club. Other speakers at the November 14th event included Georgetown Professors Jeffrey Anderson and James Vreeland; and Heiko Hesse, an economist at the IMF and President of Washington European Society.

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Many conservatives argue that “excessive” government regulations are “a big wet blanket” smothering the economic recovery. But, mass layoffs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggest otherwise.  A recent article in the Washington Post reported that in “2010, 0.3 percent of the people who lost their jobs in layoffs were let go because of ‘government regulations/intervention.’ By comparison, 25 percent were laid off because of a drop in business demand.”

The graph below shows the relevant data cited in the Washington Post story back to 1995, when the data series starts. The top line ("Total Initial Claimants") shows the BLS measure for the total number of workers laid off each quarter in what the BLS calls "mass layoff events," expressed as a share of total private-sector employment. For most of the period since 1995, mass layoffs were never more than 0.4 percent of total private-sector workers.  At the peak of the recession in 2009, mass layoffs spiked at over 0.7 percent of private-sector workers per quarter, before falling back down closer to historical levels. What is most interesting about the graph is that the middle line -- which tracks layoffs due to declines in business demand --is driving almost all of the overall level of mass layoffs. The thick, almost flat line at the bottom tracks the portion of mass layoffs caused by government regulation. Government regulation has essentially no impact on layoffs and can't explain any of the increase in layoffs in the last several years.


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The seasonally adjusted Case-Shiller 20-City index fell for the fifth consecutive month, dropping 0.6 percent in September. The index has now fallen at a 4.1 percent annual rate over the last three months and is down by 3.6 percent from its level a year ago. The unadjusted 20-City index also fell by 0.6 percent with prices dropping in 17 of the 20 cities.

While prices have fallen almost everywhere since the peak of the housing bubble, it's striking how badly bottom-tier homes have been hit in some of the most bubble-affected cities. Prices of bottom-tier homes are down by more than 50 percent from their bubble peaks in Chicago, Minneapolis and Los Angeles; by more than 60 percent in Tampa; and by more than 70 percent in Phoenix. Buying a moderate-income house in these markets near the peak of the bubble was an incredibly bad investment.

The current pattern of slowly declining house prices will likely persist into next year. There continues to be enormous excess supply in most areas, as evidenced most directly by the persistence of near-record vacancy rates. The continuation of extraordinarily low interest rates will be helpful, but on the other side the slow rate of job growth seems likely to persist through 2012.

For more in-depth analysis, read the latest Housing Market Monitor.

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