Category Archives: Economy

How Economic Conditions Affect Retirement Decisions

Source: Monique Morrissey, Economic Policy Institute, Snapshot, June 25, 2008

Younger workers struggling to find a job now have something else to worry about: older workers with little choice but to keep working, even in a weak labor market.

The decades-long postwar trend toward earlier retirement reversed itself in the 1990s, as fewer workers found themselves covered by traditional defined-benefit pensions or had access to retiree health care benefits.

Journalists Give Workers the Business – How the Mainstream Media Ignores Ordinary People in Economic News Coverage

Source: David Madland, Center for American Progress, June 20, 2008

From the summary:
The mainstream media has a profound impact on politics, helping everyday Americans determine what topics people think are important, shape how they feel about issues, and even how they vote.

Alternative media outlets such as blogs and social networking sites have proliferated in recent years, yet most people still receive their news from the mainstream media, which is especially true for economic news. This report focuses on how the mainstream media covers the economy, a subject where fundamental political questions arise about how income is generated and allocated among individual Americans and the businesses and companies they work for and sometimes invest in. Specifically, in its coverage of economic issues, does the media provide a balanced discussion of who gets what and why? Or instead is coverage biased toward a particular interest group?

Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: Long-Term Federal Fiscal Challenge Driven Primarily by Health Care

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-912T, June 17, 2008

GAO was asked to provide its views on the long-term fiscal outlook. This statement addresses four key points: (1) the federal government’s long-term fiscal outlook is a matter of utmost concern; (2) this challenge is driven primarily by health care cost growth; (3) reform of health care is essential but other areas also need attention which requires a multipronged solution; and (4) the federal government faces increasing pressures yet a shrinking window of opportunity for phasing in needed adjustments.

Corporate Social Responsibility Through an Economic Lens

Source: Forest Reinhardt, Robert N. Stavins, Richard Vietor, HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series, RWP08-023, April 20, 2008

From the abstract:
Business leaders, government officials, and academics are focusing considerable attention on the concept of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR), particularly in the realm of environmental protection. Beyond complete compliance with environmental regulations, do firms have additional moral or social responsibilities to commit resources to environmental protection? How should we think about the notion of firms sacrificing profits in the social interest? May they do so within the scope of their fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders? Can they do so on a sustainable basis, or will the forces of a competitive marketplace render such efforts and their impacts transient at best? Do firms, in fact, frequently or at least sometimes behave this way, reducing their earnings by voluntarily engaging in environmental stewardship? And finally, should firms carry out such profit-sacrificing activities (i.e., is this an efficient use of social resources)? We address these questions through the lens of economics, including insights from legal analysis and business scholarship.

The Continued Collapse of the Nation’s Teen Job Market

Source: Andrew Sum, Joseph McLaughlin, Ishwar Khatiwada, Sheila Palma, Center for Labor Market Studies Northeastern University, April 2008

The summer teen employment rate is at its lowest in 50 years, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University-only 34 percent of young adults (ages 16-19) will find jobs this summer. With the recent economic downturn, older people are staying in the work force longer, and displaced workers are settling for lower-paying work in restaurants and retail, which are the usual first choices for teens.

The nation’s teens did not obtain any of the jobs generated by the income tax cuts of 2001 and, based on past experience, are unlikely to benefit from the recent, large fiscal stimulus of 2008. The federal government through funds devoted to the Iraq War has helped directly create between 70,000 and 80,000 military jobs for Iraqis but not one single job for an American youth. The recent fiscal stimulus will likely create more jobs for OPEC producing nations and China than it will for the nation’s teens.
See also:
Teens, laid-off adults competing for same jobs
Associated Press, June 18, 2008

Opportunities to Increase Efficiency in Health Care

Source: Peter Orszag, Congressional Budget Office, Statement at the Health Reform Summit of the Committee on Finance, United States Senate, June 16, 2008

The single most important factor influencing the federal government’s long-term fiscal balance is the rate of growth in health care costs. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that, without any changes in federal law, total spending on health care will rise from 16 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 to 25 percent in 2025 and 49 percent in 2082, and net federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid will rise from 4 percent of GDP to almost 20 percent over the same period. Many of the other factors that will play a key role in determining future fiscal conditions–including the actuarial deficit in Social Security and a decision about extending the 2001 and 2003 tax legislation past its scheduled expiration in 2010–pale by comparison over the long term with the impact and challenges of containing growth in the cost of federal health insurance programs.
Related:
The Long-Term Budget Outlook and Options for Slowing the Growth of Health Care Costs
Source: Peter Orszag, Congressional Budget Office, Testimony before the Committee on Finance, United States Senate, June 17, 2008

GAO Report: Expert Opinion on the Economics of Policy Options to Address Climate Change

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-605, May 09, 2008

Elevated levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting effects on the earth’s climate could have significant environmental and economic impacts in the United States and internationally. Potential impacts include rising sea levels and a shift in the intensity and frequency of floods and storms. Proposed responses to climate change include adapting to the possible impacts by planning and improving protective infrastructure, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions directly through regulation or the promotion of low-emissions technologies. Because most U.S. emissions stem from the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, much of this report centers on the effect emissions regulation could have on the economy.

Americans Worry: How They View Their Lives in an Economic Downturn

Source: Robert Blendon and John Benson
Challenge, May-June 2008

This article is the fifth in an annual series intended to help people gain a deeper insight into how Americans see their own lives. It has become clear that the economy is now weighing heavily on Americans. But they cite different reasons for their concerns. Some are affected more by a lack of jobs, others by rising prices, still others by higher medical costs. The authors conclude that these varying worries make it difficult to find a politically effective solution to alleviate Americans’ economic anxieties.