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

Last night, Dean spoke at a packed SALSA workshop (Social Action and Leadership School for Activists, a program of the Institute for Policy Studies). The event, Housing Bubbles and DC Development discussed the basics of housing bubbles – what they are and specifically how they are affecting Washington, DC. David Haiman from ONE DC discussed how gentrification is affecting residents in the Shaw neighborhood, and what can be done about the changes. The audience generated many important questions, and Dean’s comments were well-received.

In other housing-related news, Dean spoke at the 17th annual National Fair Housing Alliance conference earlier in the day. The conference featured speakers such as Sen. Paul Sarbanes (MD); Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Theodore Shaw, Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; James Carr, Senior Vice President of the Fannie Mae Foundation; and Sharon Arkin, Senior Partner at Arkin and Glovsky. Dean spoke on the panel, Unequal Gains in the U.S. Economy: The Evolving Role of African-Americans and Latinos. The panel was moderated by Kelvin Boston, of Boston Media LLC and Moneywise (PBS). He discussed wage inequality and the shift in income distribution from wages to profits over the last quarter century.
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Mark Weisbrot presented at a Congressional briefing organized by Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and sponsored by Representatives Duncan Hunter and Tim Ryan. At the briefing, which examined the projected gains from the completion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, Mark pointed to findings from economists at the World Bank that showed the gains would be largely negligible. Mark was joined by fellow panelists Yvette Pena Lopes, Legislative Representative for the Teamsters, Dave Frengel of Manufacturers for Fair Trade, and Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. Over thirty staffers and journalists attended the briefing. This meeting took place at a critical time: as the WTO convened an “emergency” mini-ministerial in a “moment-of-truth” effort to salvage negotiations that failed in December. The Doha Round negotiations have stalled during the last two ministerial meetings – in Cancún and Hong Kong - on several major issues. Add a comment
CEPR’s second briefing in the work and family series was held this afternoon. The event, Struggling to Care: Is the market failing working families? was again given to a standing-room-only crowd, and featured Bob Drago, professor of Labor Studies and Women’s Studies, Pennsylvania State University, and co-founder, Take Care Net; and Danielle Ewen, director, Child Care and Early Education Policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy. Speakers’ presentations are available online. Add a comment
CEPR hosted its first work and family briefing this afternoon. The event, Finding the Time: Challenges facing working families online is the first in a series of five briefings that will explore the challenges facing working families in the United States. Heather Boushey spoke at the opening event, along with Ellen Bravo, former director of 9to5 and National Association of Working Women, and current coordinator of the Multi-States Working Families Consortium. The series is generously funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and aims to develop policy solutions to help working families. The full schedule, along with presentations and materials from this briefing are available. Add a comment
Heather Boushey participated in a roundtable discussion at the Brookings Institution on the Census Bureau’s plan to eliminate the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The roundtable began with David Johnson (Chief, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, Census Bureau) explaining the Census’ plan to replace the SIPP with a new survey: the Dynamics of Economic Well-Being (DEWB). Heather, along with Don Oellerich, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Dept. of Health and Human Services; and Howard Iams, Office of Policy, Social Security Administration, provided critiqued response to the plan. Heather pointed out that while the SIPP may have its problems (with nonreponse rates, etc.), by eliminating it as early as September 2006, researchers and social scientists will lost up to six years of valuable data on the participation rates of government social welfare programs that is necessary to measure the effectiveness of these vital programs. The event provided an essential forum for researchers and Census staffers to debate the plan. Click here to read more about the background of the proposed SIPP elimination and for CEPR’s efforts to save the SIPP. Add a comment
This afternoon, Heather Boushey spoke at forum organized by the National Consumers League: “The High Cost of Cheap Goods: Measuring the Impact of Big Box Retailing on Workers, Consumers, and Communities.” Her panel, “Impact on Consumers and Workers: How Bottom Line Economics Play Fast and Loose with Standards and Protections” was moderated by Beth Myers, Executive Director of STITCH. Heather spoke on labor issues associated with “Big Box Retailing;”  Kathleen Russell, Consultant, Stop Hurting Our Kids, discussed product safety; and Penny Arhar, Business Agent, Teamsters Local 311 and former Costco and Drug Mart worker spoke about the worker’s perspective. Add a comment
Mark Weisbrot presented on a panel entitled Globalization: Understanding the Debate for the World Affairs Journalism Fellowships Fellowship Orientation, sponsored by the International Center for Journalists. In his presentation, Mark discussed the importance of accuracy in reporting on economic issues and talked about some common misperceptions and biases in media reports on the global economy. He was joined by fellow panelist Joseph Quinlan, Chief Marketing Strategist and Managing Director for Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America. Toby McIntosh, Managing Editor of the Daily Report for Executives, moderated the panel. Add a comment


Many of you already know, but to those who haven’t noticed the announcement on our website: Dean Baker’s newest book has been released! The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer is available online as a free e-book (in PDF and HTML versions) and in paperback for $6.91 (the cost of production). The book has been getting lots of note in the blogosphere as well as on the radio waves. Click here to read’s review.

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Mark Weisbrot was a featured speaker at a conference in Chicago co-hosted by the Global Studies Association and the DePaul University International Studies Program. The conference, Alternative Globalizations, focused on options for globalization that extend beyond the traditional neoliberal model. Other participants included Mehren Lauredee, DePaul University; Edward Kolodziej, Director Center of Global Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana; Ron Baiman, University of Illinois, Chicago; and Yiching Wu, University of Chicago. Add a comment
Mark Weisbrot spoke at the First Annual Dialogue, The Economic Development Challenge and the UN, sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in cooperation with the International Development Economics Associates (IDEAS) and the United Nations- Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA). The event, which was held at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, New York, examined important issues in international development, including macroeconomic and industrialization policies, trade, international financial arrangements, institutional and structural transformation, financial markets, governance, and poverty and inequality. Prof. James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin and Jomo K.S., Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development, UN- DESA, made keynote presentations. A number of economists from developing countries presented on some of the development policy issues facing their countries. Add a comment
Heather Boushey met with Dutch and German government officials about work-family policies here in the United States. Among the officials were Marije Laffeber (International Secretary of the Second Vice-Chair executive committee) and Patrick de Vries (First Secretary (Political) for the Royal Netherlands Embassy). Add a comment
This week, John Schmitt is in Denmark at the 2006 LoWER Annual Conference. LoWER (the European Low-wage Employment Research Network), the Center for Corporate Performance, and the Aarhus School of Business are jointly hosting this conference on the topic of Insecure Perspectives of the Low Skilled.  Participants are presenting current research from U.S. and European countries in order to discuss recent results in the field. John will be presenting a forthcoming paper, co-written with Heather Boushey, on the motherhood pay penalty and the effects of paid parental leave. It provides evidence that offering paid parental leave helps to offset the motherhood pay penalty. Add a comment
Dean Baker spoke at a panel discussion this morning at the University of Maryland School of Medicine: Improving Access to Medicines in the Developing World. Also on the panel were Dr. Allyn Taylor, a professor at the UMD School of Medicine in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, and Ken Gustavsen, manager of Global Product Donations for Merck & Co., Inc.  During the discussion, Dean pointed out that the only reason drugs are expensive is because of patent monopolies: "Drugs are cheap, patents are expensive." He also emphasized that because of patent monopolies, most research funding is wasted on copycat research. In addition, they also provide incentives to falsify results and conceal negative research findings. For these reasons, it is necessary to adopt a better system for financing prescription drug research. Add a comment
Heather Boushey was a featured participant in the UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity Conference in Chapel Hill, NC. The conference, Challenging the Two Americas: New Policies to Fight Poverty, was attended by over 200 researchers and provided serious discussion on the state of poverty in America. Heather spoke on a panel, Creating Opportunities to Work, with Arne Kalleberg, professor for the UNC Department of Sociology, and Harry Holzer, professor of public policy and associate dean at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. You can read an interesting review of the conference here.

Heather also participated in the unveiling of a new book: Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences, for which she co-wrote a chapter with Christian Weller; "What the Numbers Mean." The book has been getting good reviews, such as this one in the Boston Globe.
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Mark Weisbrot spoke on Latin American debt and growth linkages as part of the workshop discussion One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Latin American HIPC Countries after Debt Cancellation, sponsored by Eurodad and Oxfam Bolivia. Other speakers included Gail Hurley of Eurodad, Javier Gómez of CEDLA (Bolivia), Katy Murillo of Fundación Jubileo (Bolivia), Mauricio Díaz, FOSDEH (Honduras), and Adolfo Acevedo and Violeta Delgado of Coordinadora Civil (Nicaragua). Thomas Kruse of Oxfam Bolivia moderated the event and the Economic Policy Institute and Global Policy Network hosted it.  The event included a productive discussion about the challenges for debt relief in Latin America. Add a comment

Mark Weisbrot traveled to Massachusetts to speak at, and participate in, a conference, In the Name of Democracy: US Electoral Intervention in the Americas. The conference brought together a broad range of academics and NGOs, including Jennifer McCoy of the Carter Center, Daniel Wilkerson of Human Rights Watch, Gilbert Joseph, Director of Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale; Greg Grandin from New York University; Atilio Boron of CLASCO and the University of Buenos Aires; author Naomi Klein, and representatives of the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute.

There were a number of lively and informative discussions of the role and impact of U.S.-funded “democracy promotion” efforts in the Americas.

Mark’s panel included Marta Lagos, director of Latinobarómetro; and Anìbal Pérez-Liñan, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Over 100 people attended the conference.

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CEPR co-hosted a day-long conference on development, trade, and immigration with the Madrid-based think-tank Fundación Sistema (affiliated with the governing Partido Socialista Obrero Español) at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). CEPR co-directors Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker spoke on “The Growth Slowdown in Developing Countries Over the Past 25 Years” and “Paths to Development: The Relative Impact of Trade Liberalization, Intellectual Property Protections, and Effective Industrial Policy,” respectively.

Other speakers included Branko Milanovic of the World Bank, Vicente Navarro of Johns Hopkins University, José Félix Tezanos of Fundación Sistema, Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO, Christina DeConcini of the National Immigration Forum, Rafael Simancas of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español, and Will Martin of the World Bank. Heather Boushey of  CEPR, Antonio Romero of the Fundación de las Ciudades, and Carlos Westendorp, the Spanish Ambassador to the United States, moderated the panels on growth and development, immigration, and trade, respectively.

CEPR economists and staff engaged in further productive discussion with the Spanish delegation over dinner the evening before the conference, and at a dinner and reception hosted by Ambassador Westendorp at the Embassy of Spain following the conference.

Presentations and papers from the conference are available on our website. Audio and video recordings will soon be available as well.

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At a press breakfast this morning, Dean Baker and David Walker, the head of the Government Accountability Office, exchanged views on the long-term deficit problem. Mr. Walker discussed the unsustainability of the current budget path and stressed the need for long-term accounting and budget controls as well as a need for a national debate over priorities. In response, Dean emphasized the unsustainable growth in health care spending, both government and private.

Citing the Congressional Budget Office, Dean argued that fixing our broken health care system would make the future path for government spending manageable. Alternatively, if the health care system is not fixed, health will impose an enormous economic burden, regardless of whether the government chooses to pay for it or not. Mr. Walker agreed that health care spending was the most important factor affecting long-term deficit projections. See Dean's papers: Medicare Choice Plus, the Answer to the Long-Term Deficit Problem and The Forty-Four Trillion Dollar Deficit Scare for further information on the topic.

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CEPR held their first Economist Office Hours. The low-key event was a big success, with attendees stopping by from all parts of Washington (and a caller from Washington State!). Refreshments were provided, and economists Dean Baker and John Schmitt fielded questions on issues ranging from the trade deficit to the French labor law protests. This event will be held again on the first Wednesday in May.

In the morning, Dean Baker visited the Hill to debate David Berson, Vice President and chief economist at Fannie Mae, about the future of the housing market at the invitation of the Congressional Economic Leadership Institute.

While Mr. Berson did not believe that there was a bubble in the nation's housing market, he did agree that housing in several markets is likely over-valued and could decline. He also noted the large increase in investor purchased homes over the last few years, as well as the surge in non-conventional pricing. Dean pointed out the unprecedented run-up in home sale prices, which cannot be attributed to any fundamentals on the supply or demand side. He also pointed out that there has been no substantial increase in rents during this period. If the run-up in home sale prices were explained by fundamentals in the housing market, it should affect the rental and sale market in  roughly the same way.

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Mark Weisbrot participated in a panel discussion of the book, Capitalism's Achilles Heel:  Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market Systemby Raymond Baker, Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution and a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy. The panel, which was sponsored by the World Bank, was convened at Bank headquarters and also included Branko Milanovic, Lead Economist for the World Bank research group, in addition to the author’s presentation. The discussion focused on the damage to developing countries caused by illegal and illicit international money flows. A webcast of this event is available online. Add a comment

Heather Boushey spoke on income inequality this afternoon at the Center for American Progress.  The panel discussion, Is the Rising Tide Lifting All Boats?, focused on the US middle class as compared with its relative position a generation ago. Richard Alm of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute, and Jeff Madrick of The New School (NY) were other members of the panel.

In her wealth of research, Heather has repeatedly found increasing income inequality in the United States. Factors such as a stagnant minimum wage, high debt burdens, and low social support all weigh in against working families. Read CAP's event announcement and download Heather's slide presentation (available on CAP's website) for more information.

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