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

Co-director Mark Weisbrot spoke at a panel discussion at the George Washington University Elliot School for International Affairs entitled “US Policy Toward Latin America in the Post-Bush Era”. The co-panelists included Greg Craig, a foreign policy advisor to Senator Barack Obama, Nora Lustig, a visiting professor at GWU and President of the Universidad de las Americas and Mark Schneider, the Senior Vice President and Special Advisor on Latin America at the International Crisis Group. All the participants agreed that supply-side counter-narcotics efforts in the Andes have failed. Nora Lustig discussed the possible effects of a US recession on the economies of Latin America, the topic of a recent CEPR report. Mark Weisbrot followed up on Mr. Schneider’s comments about economic inequality by underscoring the electoral consequences of Latin America’s dismal economic performance during the period of Washington-backed reforms. Recent economic policies, pursued independently of IMF advice, have lead to much higher economic growth, particularly in Argentina and Venezuela. The event was attended by an audience of over 100 policy makers, diplomats, academics, and students. A video of Mark's presentation can be viewed here. Add a comment
Co-director, Dean Baker spoke at two conferences this past week. On Tuesday, he was part of a panel at the Take Back America 2008 conference which was held in Washington, DC. His co-panelists were: Albert Meyerhoff, who has practiced for more than 30 years in labor, civil rights and environmental law; Lisa Ransom who is the Vice President of Federal Affairs for the Center for Responsible Lending, and Theresa Di Martino, an activist and consumer who was ensnared by a predatory home lender. Video of the panel discussion can be seen here. Then, on Thursday, Dean traveled to Sacramento, CA where he spoke at the annual conference of the California Budget Project on the bursting of the housing bubble and the challenges it presents to homeowners in California and across the country. More of Dean's research on the housing bubble can be found here. Add a comment

Senior Research Associate, David Rosnick traveled last week to New Haven, CT, where he participated in a conference on Venezuela, "The Popular Sectors and the State in Chavez's Venezuela." The conference was held at Yale University where David presented a paper titled, "Illiteracy Revisited: What Ortega and Rodriguez Read in the Household Survey." The paper was a rebuttal to Daniel Ortega and Francisco Rodriguez's argument that they had shown econometrically that the Robinson literacy program likely had no impact on reducing illiteracy in Venezuela.

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Sponsored by the Center for American Progress (CAP), The Future Direction of US International Economic Policy brought several distinguished experts together to discuss a recent report, “Virtuous Circles: Strengthening Broad-Based Global Progress”, part of CAP’s Progressive Growth  series on the next administration’s economic policy.  The report’s lead author, Richard Samans focused the discussion on what the future of US international trade policy should be given the current context of slowing US economic growth, a constrained middle class and dramatic changes in the world economy, particularly the rapid increase of China and India’s involvement and the corresponding growth in the international labor pool.  His three-pronged approach incorporated trade, development, and monetary policy.  The effects that information-communication technology, policy regulation, capital mobility, and global labor supply are having on different countries’ living standards were incorporated into Saman’s outline of key steps toward fostering stable growth and economic equality in the United States as well as abroad. Add a comment

Discussing his new book, Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, Economics Professor at the University of Cambridge (UK) and CEPR Senior Research Associate, Ha-Joon Chang, took aim at the popular orthodoxy that in order to develop, countries need to prescribe to a strict "free trade" agenda.  Chang argued that the "developed" world, by pushing countries to pull themselves out of poverty by cutting tariffs, privatizing industries, and opening up to global competition, has perpetrated one of the greatest historical about-faces in economic history.  This engaging and provocative discussion was co-sponsored by the New America Foundation and the Center for Economic and Policy Research. If you missed this crowded event, you can watch the C-SPAN BookTV video online.

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Jennifer Wheary, Thomas M. Shapiro, Caleb Gibson, and Julia Isaacs, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, discussed "By a Thread", a new study that measures economic stability in America's middle class, at a Capitol Hill briefing. Released by Demos and the Institute for Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University, the study uses a new measurement, the Middle-Class Security Index, to examine the financial security of the middle class using five factors: education, assets, housing, budget and healthcare. The vulnerability highlighted by the study was thoroughly discussed, as well as a recommended set of policies to help strengthen America's middle class. Domestic Intern Hye Jin Rho was in attendance.

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Dean Baker discussed his Subprime Borrower Protection Plan with state legislators on a call organized by the Progressive States Network. Other speakers included Assemblyman James Brennan (NY), Representative Joe Mullery (MN), and Austin King, ACORN. Add a comment
Today, CEPR released the Housing Market Monitor, a new weekly analysis by co-director Dean Baker. With worries of recession and a mortgage crisis, this Monitor will provide an incisive breakdown of the latest indicators and developments in the housing sector. To receive the Monitor by e-mail, sign-up here. Add a comment
Dean took part in three panels at the ASSA (Allied Social Sciences Association) annual meeting, including a presentation at a plenary session sponsored by the Association for Social Economics on "Democracy, Inequality, and Economics." A written version of the talk is available on our website. One of the panels he attended was an American Economics Association session devoted to the subprime crisis. All four panelists were at least as pessimistic about the housing market as Dean. They also all agreed with his point that the problem is not subprime mortgages, but declining house prices, and the worst is yet to come. Add a comment
Dean Baker spoke at a conference in Amsterdam called "In Search of Progressive America." The conference was organized by the Wiardi Beckman Foundation, which is the Dutch Labor Party think-tank. At the conference, Dean discussed current globalization policy and the prospects of significant changes in a future Democratic administration. Other speakers at the conference included Wouter Bos, the vice prime minister and leader of the Labor Party and Bert Koenders, the Netherland's minister for international cooperation and development. Add a comment
The current issue of the British Journal of Industrial Relations (BJIR) contains a revised version of an April 2006 CEPR briefing paper, "Changing Patterns in the Relative Economic Performance of Immigrants to Great Britain and the U.S., 1980-2000," (subscription required) that was written by CEPR economist John Schmitt and Jonathan Wadsworth. In the paper, they compare the relative labour market performance of immigrants in the USA and in Britain over the period 1980–2000, when the stocks of immigrants were rising in both countries alongside differential shifts in demand and changes to labor market institutions. Add a comment
Dean Baker was be the keynote speaker at the 24th annual meeting of the JOBS NOW Coalition on Friday, November 9th. The meeting ran from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Lakes & Plains Regional Council of Carpenters and Joiners, 710 Olive St., St. Paul, MN. For more information, please visit the JOBS NOW website. Add a comment

The D.C. Employment Justice Center organized a rally in support of The Paid Sick and Safe Days Act of 2007 (B17-0197). The bill would require employers operating in Washington, DC to provide 10 days of paid leave to their employees for the purposes of tending to physical or mental illness, preventive medical care, family care, parental leave, and absences associated with domestic violence or sexual violence. Speaking at the event on behalf of the legislation were several DC council members, a small business owner, several employees of locally operated businesses, as well as Ed Lazere of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. The speakers depicted the legislation as invaluable for the health and well being of DC working people in addition to being advantageous to the interests of business.  Domestic Intern Joshua Lanier was in attendance.

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Senior economist, John Schmitt traveled to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he attended a conference on Wealth Inequality and the Eroding Middle Class. He spoke on a panel titled: Rising Wealth Inequality: Why We Should Care. The panel discussed domestic and global wealth inequality patterns and their implications. It was moderated by Lisa Keister, Professor of Sociology at Duke University and included Joel Handler (UCLA); Lingxin Hao (Professor, Johns Hopkins University); Mark Rank (Professor, Washington University in St. Louis), and Alan Reynolds (Senior Fellow, Cato Institute). Add a comment
Director of International Programs, Deborah James spoke on a panel on comparative constitutional reform in Latin America at the National Lawyers Guild Convention in Washington, D.C. Add a comment
Heather Boushey spoke on a panel that explored the trend of media stories that show working mothers as either leaving their careers or dreaming of doing so. The discussion was moderated by E.J. Graff, a senior researcher at Brandeis University, and also included Joan Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California; Ellen Bravo, author of Taking On the Big Boys: Why Feminism Is Good for Families and Business and the Nation; and Linda Hirshman, lawyer and professor emeritus at Brandeis University.
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Dean Baker live-blogged the Republican presidential debate for the New York Times, along with two other economists - Russell Roberts, professor of Economics at George Mason University, and William Niskanen, with the Cato Institute.
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While in London, Mark Weisbrot gave another talk titled "The Venezuelan Social Economy: The Optimistic Scenario" at Canning House, which is home to the Foreign Office, Latin American embassies and business journalists. More details on Mark's trip - including his time in Madrid, Spain - to come.

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Mark Weisbrot went to London, England where he spoke at the Annual General Meeting of Compass. Mark was on a panel with Neal Lawson, the founder of Compass and John Crudass, a Labor MP, and he spoke on issues including the lessons of economic progress and political change in Latin America, and the prospect for progressives in the forthcoming US Presidential election. Add a comment
Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman wrote a commentary in the journal "Capitalism and Society" praising Dean Baker and John Schmitt's work in a co-authored piece, "Are Protective Labor Market Institutions at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Review of the Evidence". Add a comment
John Schmitt, Dean Baker, Mark Weisbrot, David Rosnick, and Ben Zipperer contributed CEPR publications to a new book, "Neoliberalism, Globalization and Inequalities: Consequences for Health and Quality of Life". Chapter titles include:
  • "Is Globalization Undermining the Welfare State? The Evolution of the Welfare State in Developed Capitalist Countries"
  • "The Scorecard on Development: 25 Years of Diminished Progress"
  • "Economic Efficiency versus Social Equality? The U.S. Liberal Model versus The European Social Model"
  • "Is the United States a Good Model for Reducing Social Exclusion in Europe?"
  • "Labor Markets and Economic Inequality in the United States Since the End of the 1970s"
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