The following highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.
CEPR on Snowden, the NSA and Latin America
CEPR continued to monitor the developments in the national security whistle-blower case in July. Co-Directors Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker wrote several op-eds, including this one by Mark for The Guardian on Edward Snowden's applications for asylum and this one in Folha de São Paulo (Brazil) on the revelation that Brazil has been the NSA’s largest target of U.S. spying in the hemisphere after the United States. Dean weighed in with this piece for Yahoo! Finance's The Exchange on the privatization of national security. Dean also wrote this op-ed for Truthout, which prompted the following tweet by the journalist Sarah Jaffe: “Only @DeanBaker13 can connect the hunt for Snowden to the need for a financial transactions tax.”
CEPR staff wrote numerous posts for The Americas Blogincluding this one by CEPR Research Assistant Stephan Lefebvre on a Latin American scholars’ open letter to the media regarding the supposed “irony” of Edward Snowden’s request for asylum in Ecuador, and acceptance of asylum in Venezuela. Stephan also penned this post on UNASUR’s statement on the forced landing of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales’ plane, as well as this review of Guardian journalist Rory Carroll's reporting on Ecuador and Snowden. CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston wrote this post on how the U.S. government pressured Latin American governments to not offer asylum to Snowden. International Communications Director Dan Beeton penned this post on the U.S. government’s double standard on extraditions, while Senior Associate for International Policy Alex Main noted in this post that the OAS Resolution supporting Bolivia was rejected by the U.S. More CEPR analysis on the Snowden situation and revelations of U.S. government surveillance can be found here.
CEPR on the Minimum Wage and Good Jobs for Black Workers
July 24th was the fourth anniversary of the last increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. CEPR has written about the importance and impact of the minimum wage numerous times over the years. To mark this year’s anniversary, CEPR published a series of blog posts, including this one by Senior Economist John Schmitt and Domestic Program Assistant Milla Sanes that looks at how some states have taken matters into their own hands and raised the minimum wage above the federal level. John and Milla also wrote this post on tipped workers, noting that 31 states have passed higher minimum-wage laws for tipped workers. The post also mentions that the federal minimum wage for tipped workers hasn’t been raised in 21 years.
John and CEPR Research Associate Janelle Jones wrote this post showing that if the federal minimum wage had kept up with inflation since its peak in 1968, it would now be about $9.50 an hour. And if the minimum wage had grown along with workers' productivity, it would be over $17.00 today. John and Janelle also wrote this post, which demonstrates that low-wage workers are older and better educated than in the past. CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo wrote this post on the day of the anniversary, summarizing the previous four posts and providing links to two printable flyers summarizing some of the key CEPR findings on the minimum wage: one looks at the federal minimum wage and the other focuses on the states (including bar graphs of the state minimum wages that weren't seen in the blog posts).
CEPR’s March 2012 paper, “The Minimum Wage is Too Damn Low”, by John Schmitt was cited in this recent piece in the Huffington Post. Janelle was cited in this article on the minimum wage in South Dakota’s Rapid City Journal. CEPR’s research was also cited in an article on Ohio that was featured on the examiner.com website.
Ask Talk Listen with Polictical Jones. Janelle wrote this post on the paper for the blog Girl W/Pen, which was cross-posted on the CEPR Blog. She also wrote this piece that appeared in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.
Despite being thoroughly debunked, concern over high government debt-to-GDP ratios has hardly disappeared from policy debates. As such, an overlooked possibility for reducing a high debt burden is simply buying back bonds at a discount when interest rates rise, as is widely predicted. CEPR’s July issue brief, “Financial Engineering: The Simple Way to Reduce Government Debt Burdens” by Dean Baker and CEPR Domestic Intern Sheva Diagne, calculates the potential savings to the government through a hypothetical buyback of government debt in 2017.
CEPR also highlighted one of our biggest pet peeves this July: the reporting of budget numbers. As Dean has said repeatedly in Beat the Press, budget reporting that only uses numbers doesn’t tell the story. We even created this diagram so that economic reporters can better understand how it works:
CEPR’s new budget calculator makes it even easier. It places specific tax or spending numbers in the context of the total U.S. budget. It converts dollar amounts into either dollars per capita or into a percentage of total revenues, total discretionary spending, or the total budget (including nondiscretionary spending). Now, perhaps the New York Times will take Dean’s suggestion and start using CEPR’s calculator.
And speaking of the budget, Mark’s column “'Less Government' isn’t the Solution” in the Denver Post and was re-printed in over 30 newspapers across the county. Mark weighed in on whether “less government is the solution” to ongoing economic woes, and notes that the question really is “whether government or markets, which both play important roles in our economy, will be used to benefit the majority, or primarily the richest.”
CEPR on Haiti
CEPR’s Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog marked a sad milestone this past month: over 1000 days since the outbreak of cholera in Haiti. As the post noted, there have been almost 8,200 deaths and some 665,000 infected and still no apology from the United Nations. Another post notes that the U.N.’s own independent experts now say that U.N. troops “most likely” caused the cholera epidemic, while another remarks on a press release by lawyers from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) calling U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s dismissive response to 19 members of congress and victims of cholera “outrageous.” The Haiti blog also posted about how USAID’s lack of expertise and reliance on contractors could endanger the Caracol industrial park. CEPR has reported extensively on USAID and the lack of aid accountability in Haiti, and was recently cited in this op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times. As the article noted, CEPR has reported that “USAID spent $1.15 billion, more than half going to American firms in the D.C. area and less than 1 percent to Haitian firms and nonprofits.”
CEPR on Whether the ACA is a “Job Killer”
Opponents of Affordable Care Act (ACA) claim that employers are cutting workers’ hours to just under 30 hours a week to avoid paying penalties that are part of the bill . CEPR’s latest brief, “The Affordable Care Act: A Hidden Jobs Killer?” by Dean and Helene Jorgensen, reviews data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) on hours worked to assess the impact of the ACA on employer hiring patterns. The paper finds that only 0.6 percent of workers are working just below the 30-hour cutoff and this number was actually lower in the first four months of 2013, when it was thought the sanctions would apply, than the first four months of 2012. “There really is no evidence that the ACA has had any noticeable impact on employment growth,” said Dean.
CEPR Domestic Intern Sheva Diagne’s wrote on labor’s declining share of income, while CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Applebaum weighed in on the Women’s Economic Agenda. Nicole reviewed a new Frontline documentary hosted by Bill Moyers “Two American Families”. Dean wrote several posts, including this one on the “Lost Output Clock to the Debt Clock”, this one comparing Detriot and Goldman Sachs and this one noting falling concerns over hyperinflation.
The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber
The Americas Blog featured two guest posts this month: This post by Brian Mier on the July 11 general strike in Brazil and this one by Milford Bateman on Latin America’s often-negative experience with microcredit. Posts by CEPR staff include this one by Stephan Lefebvre exploring the motivation behind a house panel vote to limit the U.S. share of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) regular budget to 50 percent or less. Stephan also penned this critique of The Atlantic’s reposting of analysis by the congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy, while Dan Beeton wrote this post on Spanish newspaper ABC’s false reporting on Venezuela. Dan also posted this piece on “what the Bradley Manning verdict taught us about U.S. policy in the Americas.”
Beat the Press
Dean followed up last year’s birthday boast post with this year’s progress report. He praises Robert Samuelson, kind of, but then he returns to his regularly scheduled program, here and here. Dean continued to highlight bad budget reporting in these posts about Detroit, here and here. He also critiqued reporting on pension assumptions, housing policy, corporate taxes, the IMF and France, just to name a few.
In Other CEPR News…
--Eileen and John wrote a chapter that appears in the just-published textbook “Comparative Employment Relations in the Global Economy”. The book is the first to present a cross-section of country studies, including all four BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China alongside integrative thematic chapters covering all the important topics related to the field of employment relations. John and Eileen contributed a chapter on: “Employment Relations and Economic Performance”.
--CEPR’s May 2013 report “No Vacation Nation Revisited” continues to receive media attention. This past month it was mentioned in news outlets across the country, including this one in the Daily Chronicle (IL), this one in The Rockford Register Star (IL), this one in the Desert News (UT) and this one in Today’s News-Herald (AZ). The paper was also cited by Slate and was even featured in France’s Le Monde.
--Dean asks “Are the Bubbles Back?” in this column for the Real World Economics Review. Dean also weighs in on whether there is a new housing bubble in this piece for the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch. Dean appeared twice on The Kudlow Report, talking about tax reform and part-time work. He was on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS discussing pensions and on CNBC talking about stimulus. Dean also discussed the state of the economy on Stand Up with Pete Dominick. And his op-ed on Detroit in Yahoo! Finance’s “The Exchange” received a great deal of attention.
--John taught a short course on the connection between labor-market institutions, the welfare state, and employment at the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona, Spain. He has been a visiting lecturer at the UPF and taught graduate students there every other year since 1999.
--On July 30 Dean traveled to Cambridge to talk about "Trends in the Discount Rate” at the National Council on Teacher Retirement's annual trustee workshop and forum.
--Dean expounded on the numerous reasons why Larry Summers should not be named fed chair in op-eds for The Guardian and Truthout, as well as several posts in Beat the Press (here, here and here). And he wrote several pieces on U.S. – E.U. trade deals, including this op-ed for Al Jazeera, this one for The Guardian, and thesetwo posts for Beat the Press.