Penn Arts and Sciences

Global Economic Crisis

SSPF Director Keynotes Policy Conference, Sparks Discussion of Future of Post-Bankruptcy Detroit

SSPF director Thomas Sugrue has a lot of advice for Detroit as it grapples with bankruptcy. He warned against "trickle down urbanism," argued that the city cannot rely on an influx of hipsters and the "creative class" to spark revitalization, and told Detroit policymakers to build on the city's strengths, especially health care, education, and public employment.

Sugrue's views about the city's future were featured in the Detroit Free Press and Forbes, and in radio, newspaper, and television interviews. On February 27, Sugrue presented the keynote address to more than 800 people at the Detroit Policy Conference, sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Sugrue's engagement with Detroit comes at a crucial moment in the city's history. Over the last week, Detroit's Emergency Manager submitted a plan to resolve the city's bankruptcy. Detroit Future City, the city's leading planning organization, announced its plans to demolish blighted properties and lay the groundwork for the city's revitalization. And Detroit's newly elected mayor, Mike Duggan, gave his first major policy address.

Sugrue is David Boies Professor of History and Sociology, and author of the prize-winning book, The Origins of the Urban Crisis.

BANKRUPT: Lessons from the Detroit Fiscal Crisis (Gilles Duranton, Robert Inman, Jeremy Nowak, Thomas Sugrue, Susan Wachter)

Tue, 09/10/2013 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm

Please join the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum and the Penn Institute for Urban Research for a roundtable on Detroit's unprecedented municipal bankruptcy and its implications for urban finance, pensions, and the future of American cities. Speakers include Gilles Duranton, Professor of Real Estate and chair of the Real Estate Department at the Wharton School, Robert P. Inman, Richard K. Mellon Professor of Finance, Economics, and Public Policy, Wharton School; Jeremy Nowak, Chair of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and President of J Nowak and Associates, LLC; and Thomas J. Sugrue, David Boies Professor of History and Sociology and Director of the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum. Moderated by Susan M. Wachter, Co-Director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research. This event is free and open to the public. Please register here.

SSPF Summer Institute on Inequality Brings Together Top Students, Major Scholars

A select group of predissertation students from throughout the United States gathered in Philadelphia for the Penn SSPF's first Summer Institute on Inequality. Held from June 17 through June 26, the program furthered SSPF’s mission of fostering policy-relevant scholarship at every stage of development by helping graduate students early in their careers explore key topics and refine their research goals. Students explored cutting-edge qualitative and quantitative research on a variety of topics related to inequality, including poverty, labor force participation, income and wealth disparities, the impact of race and ethnicity, spatial dynamics, educational gaps, and social and economic policies that address inequalities.

Visiting speakers included of the most important social scientists working on inequality today, including demographer Marta Tienda (Princeton), sociologist Sean Reardon (Stanford), incoming ASA president Paula England (NYU), and anthropologist Kathryn Newman (dean at Johns Hopkins).  Visit the summer institute webpage for background on the institute participants and faculty.

In the News: SSPF Faculty on the Urban Fiscal Crisis

Penn Social Science and Policy Forum Director, Thomas Sugrue and  SSPF executive board member Robert Inman are quoted on urban financial crises, public policy, and Detroit's emergency management in the current issue of Next City.

Summer Institute on Inequality

Mon, 06/17/2013 (All day) - Wed, 06/26/2013 (All day)


ALTHOUGH NOT AN EVENT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, Penn SSPF is proud to announce that our Summer Institute on Inequality will run from June 17 through June 26.  This program furthers SSPF’s mission of fostering policy-relevant scholarship at every stage of development by helping graduate students in the predissertation phase of their work to discover new topics and refine their research goals. After having received over 140 applications, representing more than 60 schools from across the nation, we selected ten highly qualified students in a variety of disciplines.

Inequality was chosen as the subject of the Summer Institute both because it was a central theme in this year’s examination of the Global Economic Crisis – and indeed it is a highly relevant topic in good times and bad – and because there is such a rich body of interdisciplinary scholarship to draw from. The program will provide a mix of visiting speakers, seminars, and workshops featuring cutting-edge qualitative and quantitative research on a variety of topics related to inequality, including poverty, labor force participation, income and wealth disparities, the impact of race and ethnicity, spatial dynamics, educational gaps, and social and economic policies that address inequalities. Listed below are the faculty and students participating in the Institute, beginning with co-leaders of the Institute, Tom Sugrue and John Skrentny.

Faculty [Top]

Thomas J. Sugrue
David Boies Professor of History and Sociology and Director of Penn SSPF, University of Pennsylvania

A specialist in twentieth-century American politics, urban history, civil rights, and race, Sugrue was educated at Columbia; King's College, Cambridge; and Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1992. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, President of the Urban History Association, Vice President (president elect) of the Social Science History Association, and has been a fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Institute for Advanced Study.  He is author of several books, including Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race (Princeton University Press, 2010); Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (Random House, 2008), a Main Selection of the History Book Club and a finalist for the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and The Origins of the Urban Crisis (Princeton, 2005), winner of the Bancroft and several other prizes. He has published more than three dozen scholarly articles in such places as the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban History, and the American Behavioral Scientist, and his op-eds and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and in many other newspapers and magazines. Sugrue is currently researching urban space, racial and socioeconomic inequality, and public policy in France and the United States; finishing a book on twentieth-century America (with Glenda Gilmore of Yale); and conducting research for a book on the history of the real estate industry in the United States.

John D. Skrentny
Professor of Sociology  and Director, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego

John Skrentny received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University and a BA in Sociology and Philosophy from Indiana University. His research focuses on public policy, law and inequality, especially as they relate to immigration, civil rights, jobs and opportunity. Skrentny is Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS) at UC-San Diego. He has written two books and edited another on the historical development of laws and policies to protect the rights and opportunities of minorities in the US. These studies have included a wide variety of groups, including African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and white ethnics, as well as immigrants, the disabled, gays/lesbians and women of all races and ethnicities. This research has sought to bring a cultural approach to the fields of historical institutionalism and American political development. Starting with the premise that no policy is developed without the decisions of policy makers, Skrentny has focused his research on the worldviews and actions of policy-making elites, situating them in their historical, local and global contexts. Skrentny's books have included The Minority Rights Revolution, which won the Distinguished Book Award from the Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association and was a finalist for the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award of the Organization of American Historians; and The Ironies of Affirmative Action: Politics, Culture and Justice in America, a study of the development and politics of affirmative action in employment for African Americans.

Supported by a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, Skrentny has finished a book to bring the civil rights story in the U.S. up to date and to take into account the current era of mass immigration. To be published by Princeton University Press in the Fall of 2013, After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace examines the meaning of race in the workplace and the relevance, or lack of relevance, of civil rights law in regulating equal opportunity in employment. This study has important implications for current civil rights law, the meaning of race in America, immigration, multiculturalism and equal opportunity.

Philippe Bourgois
Richard Perry University Professor of Anthropology and Family and Community Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Philippe Bourgois has conducted fieldwork in Central America (Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Belize) and in the urban United States (San Francisco and East Harlem in New York City). In Central America his research addresses the political mobilization of ethnicity, immigration and labor relations, political violence, popular resistance, and the social dislocation of street children. His research in the United States confronts inner-city social suffering and critiques the political economy and cultural contours of U.S. apartheid. He is also addressing gender power relations, and the intersections between structural and intimate violence. His most recent fieldwork explores inner city poverty, substance abuse, carceralization, and violence in North Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican neighborhood. Bourgois is the author of In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, a study of social marginalization in inner-city America centered on street-level drug dealers in East Harlem. 

Bourgois is the co-author of Righteous Dopefiend, which follows a social network of two dozen heroin injectors and crack smokers on the streets of San Francisco over the course of a decade, accompanying them as they scramble to generate income through burglary, panhandling, recycling, and day labor. He also contributed to the edited volume, Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology and to numerous journals, including the International Journal of Drug Policy, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry and City and Society.

Paula England
Professor of Sociology, New York University

Paula England received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1975, and has held tenured faculty positions at the University of Texas-Dallas, University of Arizona, University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, and Stanford University. She is president-elect of the American Sociological Association. Professor England's research interests include gender, labor markets, families, sexuality, and contraception. Two of her recent U.S.-based research projects focus on the wage penalty for being a mother, and explanations for class differences in unplanned pregnancies. 

England has published two books, Comparable Worth: Theories and Evidence and, more recently, Households, Employment, Gender: A Social, Economic, and Demographic View. She is also author of over 100 articles. She is a former editor of the American Sociological Review. She has won a number of awards, including the American Sociological Association's Jessie Bernard Award for career contributions to the study of gender, and the ASA Family Section's award for distinguished contributions to research on the family.

Harry Holzer
Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University

Harry Holzer served as Associate Dean from 2004 through 2006 and was Acting Dean in the Fall of 2006 for the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. He is also currently a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institutes for Research, a Senior Affiliate at the Urban Institute, a Senior Affiliate of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, a National Fellow of the Program on Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Research Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is also a faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy. He received his BA (1978) and Ph.D. (1983) from Harvard University. Prior to Georgetown, Professor Holzer served as Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Labor and professor of economics at Michigan State University. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in 1995, and a Faculty Research Fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Over most of his career, Professor Holzer's research has focused primarily on the low-wage labor market, and particularly the problems of minority workers in urban areas. In recent years he has worked on the quality of jobs as well as workers in the labor market, and how job quality affects the employment prospects of the disadvantaged as well as worker inequality and insecurity more broadly. He has also written extensively about the employment problems of disadvantaged men, advancement prospects for the working poor, and workforce policy more broadly. He is the co-author of Where are All the Good Jobs Going? What National and Local Job Quality and Dynamics Mean for US Workers and Against the Tide: Household Structure, Opportunities and Outcomes among White and Minority Youth.

Katherine S. Newman
James B. Knapp Dean, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University

Katherine S. Newman is the James Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.  She previously served as the Malcolm Forbes Class of 1941 Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs and the Director of the Institute for International and Regional Studies at Princeton University; the Dean of Social Science at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University; and the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Urban Studies in the John F. Kennedy School of Government.   Newman is the author of 12 books on topics ranging from urban poverty, with special emphasis on the working poor, to middle class economic insecurity to school violence.  Her most recent book is entitled The Accordion Family, a comparative study of the increasing length of time that young people are living with their parents in response to declining labor market opportunities and the increasing cost of both housing and education.  Her forthcoming book, After Freedom: The Rise of the Post-Apartheid Generation in Democratic South Africa, will be published in April, 2014, the twentieth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s election in South Africa.

Sean Reardon

Professor of Education and Director, Stanford Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program in Quantitative Education Policy Analysis, Stanford University

Sean Reardon is Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology at Stanford University, specializing in research on the effects of educational policy on educational and social inequality, on the causes, patterns, trends, and consequences of social and educational inequality, and in applied statistical methods for educational research. His primary research examines the relative contribution of family, school, and neighborhood environments to racial/ethnic and socioeconomic achievement disparities. In addition, he develops methods of measuring social and educational inequality (including the measurement of segregation and achievement gaps) and methods of causal inference in educational and social science research. He teaches graduate courses in applied statistical methods, with a particular emphasis on the application of experimental and quasi-experimental methods to the investigation of issues of educational policy and practice.

Reardon received his doctorate in education in 1997 from Harvard University. He has been a recipient of a William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Award, a Carnegie Scholar Award, and a National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellowship. His numerous publications include, most recently, “Income Inequality and Income Segregation” (forthcoming in the American Journal of Sociology), “Measuring the Strength of Teachers’ Unions: An Empirical Application of the Partial Independence Item Response Approach” (forthcoming in the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics), and “The Hispanic‐White Achievement Gap in Math and Reading in the Elementary Grades” (in the American Educational Association Journal).

Marta Tienda
Maurice P. During '22 Professor in Demographic Studies and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University

Marta Tienda’s research has focused on race and ethnic differences in various metrics of social inequality – ranging from poverty and welfare to education and employment – to address how ascribed attributes acquire their social and economic significance. Through various studies of immigration, population diversification and concentrated poverty, she have documented social arrangements and life course trajectories that both perpetuate and reshape socioeconomic inequality. She recently completed a decade-long study about the effectiveness of social policy in broadening access to higher education and is currently developing two research initiatives about age and immigration.  One is a comparative study of child migration in traditional and new immigrant nations; the second focuses on late-age immigration to the United States.

Tienda has contributed to numerous publications as an author and editor, recently as co-author of "Delayed Enrollment and College Plans: Is There a Postponement Penalty?" in the Journal of Higher Education (2013) and as co-editor of a special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political Science (Sept. 2012), “Migrant Youth and Children of Migrants in  a Globalized World.”  She is herself the subject of a biography geared to young adult readers, People Person: The Story of Sociologist Marta Tienda, which describes her childhood as the daughter of an illegal Mexican immigrant and her later work to better understand the roots of inequality.

Dorian T. Warren
Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Dorian T. Warren specializes in the study of inequality and American politics. He teaches and conducts research on labor organizing and politics, race and ethnic politics, urban politics and policy, American political development, community organizing and social movements, and social science methodology. Prior to coming to Columbia, Professor Warren spent two years as a visiting scholar at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and spent 2008-2009 as a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. 

Warren's publications include “The American Labor Movement in the Age of Obama: The Challenges and Opportunities of a Racialized Political Economy” (in Perspectives on Politics); “Re-establishing a Workers’ Rights Agenda” (in the volume, Mandate for Change); and “The Politics and Practice of Economic Justice: Community Benefits Agreements as Tactic of the New Accountable Development Movement” (in the Journal of Community Practice).

Students [Top]

Wendell Adjetey
African-American Studies and History, Yale

Wendell Adjetey is enrolled in a joint Ph.D. program in the Departments of History and African American Studies at Yale. He is interested in the labor and freedom linkages among Great Lakes cities (Buffalo, Detroit, Hamilton, Rochester, Toronto, and Windsor) in the inter- and postwar periods and hopes, in his work, to integrate the shared experiences of African Canadians and African Americans in a transnational context. His research interests also include Afrodiasporic urban communities, the Great Migration and labor history, Black Loyalists, and chattel servitude in the Americas.

Wendell obtained an Honours BA in International Relations and History from the University of Toronto in 2008 and an MA in Ethnic, Immigration, and Pluralism Studies and Political Science from U of T the following year.  Prior to starting his doctorate in 2012, Adjetey spent three rewarding, yet challenging, years working as a case manager in a youth gang intervention program in north Toronto. Before this work, he founded and ran a non-profit for marginalized youth.

Zawadi Ahidiana
Sociology, UC Berkeley

Zawadi Rucks Ahidiana is a PhD student in the Sociology department at the University of California, Berkeley.  Her research interests are focused on race/ethnicity and social stratification in the United States.  Using mixed methods research, her masters paper looks at the conflation of race and class in perceptions of gentrification, and her dissertation will focus on the racial wealth gap.  Prior to coming to Berkeley, Zawadi worked as a qualitative researcher in program evaluation at MDRC and the Community College Research Center at Teachers College.  She holds a Master’s in Public Administration with a specialization in policy analysis from New York University and a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science and Policy with a specialization in land use from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Alyse Bertenthal
Criminology, UC Irvine

Alyse Bertenthal is a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Criminology, Law & Society at the University of California, Irvine.  She graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Literature.  After teaching in Paris, France, Alyse returned to study law at the University of Chicago, where she edited the University of Chicago Law Review, and then worked as an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.  These diverse educational and work experiences have motivated her research agenda, which includes the historical and sociological study of legal expertise and knowledge, and the relationship between law and social change. 

Alyse is currently studying the legal self-help movement, and is working on an article in which she examines the production of legal consciousness through discursive interaction between attorneys and litigants.

Courtney Boen
Sociology, UNC Chapel Hill

Courtney Boen is a PhD student in Sociology and a pre-doctoral trainee in the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Courtney’s research interests include social demography, medical sociology, and racial and ethnic inequality.  Integrating theory and methods from sociology, demography, economics, and biology, Courtney studies how racial discrimination functions as a dynamic process over time and across domains to restrict access to health-promoting resources, increase physiological stress response, and ultimately harm health.  For her masters thesis, she used more than twenty years of longitudinal data to examine the role of socioeconomic inequality – including disparities in wealth and patterns of economic advantage and disadvantage over time – in producing racial health inequality across the life course.

Currently, Boen is working with Dr. Anthony Perez on a study that examines racial differences in asset accumulation, as well as a paper with Dr. Yang Yang that investigates how social relationships affect health in late life. Courtney received her B.A. in sociology and community health and her M.P.H. from Tufts University.

Fiona Chin
Sociology, Northwestern

Fiona C. Chin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute for Policy Research.  Her research interests include stratification and inequality, economic sociology, and political sociology.  Her dissertation will focus on economically successful Americans and their beliefs about inequality and mobility.  She is also part of a team examining the efficacy of academic hiring, promotion, diversity, and work/life policies. Prior to graduate school, Fiona was an investment banker in New York and then worked in the Provost’s Office at Harvard University.  She received an A.B. cum laude in Economics from Harvard University and an M.A. in Sociology from Northwestern University.

Devin Fernandes
Political Science, Johns Hopkins

Devin Fernandes is a third-year Ph.D. student in the political science department at Johns Hopkins University. His research interests include the politics of race, ethnicity, and immigration, interest groups, and education policy. He previously worked as a researcher at the Urban Institute’s Education Policy Center, the United Neighborhood Organization (a Hispanic community organization and charter school operator in Chicago), and for the Brookings-Duke Immigration Policy Roundtable.

Devin's current work explores the proliferation of progressive advocacy organizations since the 1960s, especially those dealing with issues of race, education, and social inequality. In particular, it looks at the role foundations have played in this important feature of American political development and the associated impacts these efforts have had on politics and public policy. Recent projects include an examination of the misguided Annenberg Challenge of the 1990s as well as a longer-term effort to explain the origins and organizational constraints on member-less advocacy groups supported by third-party funders.

Maximilian Hell
Sociology, Stanford

Maximilian Hell is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University and a National Poverty Fellow at the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality. His research interests lie at the intersection of social stratification and economic sociology, focusing on credit and wealth inequalities. In his current work, he uses vignette experiments to assesses the discriminatory effects of credit histories in the hiring process. He also works on consumption inequalities, interrogating in particular how spending on children and education has evolved during the Great Recession. In addition to receiving his undergraduate education at Sciences Po in Paris and a M.Sc. in Sociology from the University of Oxford, he complemented his European training with a year of studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  

Vittorio Merola
Political Science, Ohio State University

Vittorio Merola is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the Ohio State University. His research focuses on Behavioral Political Economy, with an emphasis on Latin America and developing countries. In particular, Vittorio plans to study the individual-level psychological processes that shape attitudes, beliefs and behaviors around economic inequality and its related policies, within the broader contextual setting of factors such as the information environment, the underlying structure of economic inequality and economic mobility, and the actions of political parties and civil society. His specific research interests include understanding redistribution preferences in the developing world, the perceptions of economic inequality and economic mobility, the effects of economic inequality on public opinion and political participation, as well as the statistical analysis of temporal and spatial data.

Vittorio is currently working on projects analyzing how the structure of economic inequality among ethnic groups affects opinions on wealth redistribution in Latin America, and seeing how expectations of mobility and risk affect opinions on redistribution in an experimental game setting. For his dissertation, Vittorio expects to investigate the determinants of perceptions and beliefs regarding economic inequality and the deservingness of economic outcomes, focusing primarily on the context of Brazil, in the hopes of better understanding its variation within and between countries, as well as the effect this has on political behavior and, ultimately, social policies.

Samantha Plummer
Sociology, University of Pittsburgh

Samantha Plummer is entering her third year of the doctoral program in sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests are varied and include mental health, inequality, social theory, and religion. Her master’s thesis examines the experiences of long-term care workers at a psychiatric residential treatment facility for children and adolescents, and it explores the way processes of rationalization and corporatization have affected workers’ job satisfaction and their ability to provide services to the youth in their care. 

Samantha's current research interests center on the political consequences of segregation and economic inequality, specifically how residential segregation leads to the marginalization of the less privileged in democratic processes and civic life; how dominant groups benefit politically from this marginalization; how segregation enables a privileged ignorance of contextual inequality; and how it promotes interracial distrust by enabling people to avoid the difficult work of “talking to strangers.” When not studying or doing research, she enjoys running, traveling, playing soccer, and hanging out with her thirteen-year-old sister, Alex.      

Michael Zabek
Economics, University of Michigan

Mike Zabek is a third year PhD student in Economics at the University of Michigan. He is studying labor, urban, and macroeconomics. Broadly, Mike’s interest in inequality is focused on the divergence of incomes in the United States over the past few decades, as well as issues surrounding personal finances. One topic he is researching is the way local connections bind people to different localities, including areas in economic decline. Local connections could be the presence of family members in an area, homes that residents own in the area, social networks, involvement in community organizations, or “tastes” for particular places. If workers have ties to their home regions, then they will endure worse economic conditions without moving, which will prolong economic declines. If the people with the lowest levels of market skill stay in larger numbers it could lead to dysfunctional local finances.

Originally from Vermont, Mike holds a BA from Kenyon College with double majors in Mathematics and Economics. After graduating from Kenyon, Mike worked for three research organizations investigating topics in labor and development economics, including a half year stint in northern India.

Ending Too Big to Fail: Financial Regulation After Dodd-Frank (Sheila Bair)

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 2:00pm - 4:30pm

The talk by Chairman Bair will be followed by a panel discussion on financial regulation featuring Bair and Wharton Professors Franklin Allen, Richard Herring and Susan Wachter.

AS CHAIRMAN OF THE FDIC DURING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS, Sheila Bair oversaw the successful resolution of over 350 banking institutions representing assets in excess of $800 billion.  Working in tandem with the Federal Reserve Board and US Treasury Department, the FDIC was deeply involved in the frenetic efforts to stabilize troubled financial behemoths such as Wachovia, Citibank and Bank of America, representing trillions of dollars in assets.

Chairman Bair fought a public --if not always successful -- battle against government bailouts and decried the lack of adequate tools to deal with failing financial conglomerates.  She successfully sought new authority in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to place all large financial institutions under the same type of receivership process the FDIC has successfully used for insured banks, thus shifting the financial burden of failure onto creditors and shareholders, not taxpayers.

"The bailouts, while stabilizing the financial system in the short term, have created a long-term drag on our economy.  Because we propped up the mismanaged institutions, our financial sector remains bloated.  The well-managed institutions have to compete with the boneheads.  We did not force financial institutions to shed their bad assets and recognize their losses.  Lingering uncertainty about the true extent of those losses made previously profligate management more risk averse when prudent risk taking and lending were most needed, particularly by small businesses.  Only in 2012 did we finally see some meaningful pickup in lending by the big financial institutions.  Economic growth is sluggish, unemployment remains high.  The housing market still struggles.  I hope that our economy continues to improve.  But it will do so despite the bailouts, not because of them."
-- From Bull by the Horns (2012)

Sheila C. Bair served as the 19th Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a five-year term, from June 2006 through June 2011. As FDIC Chairman, Ms. Bair presided over a tumultuous period in the nation’s financial sector, working to bolster public confidence and system stability. Determined not to turn to taxpayer borrowing during the crisis, the FDIC managed its losses and liquidity needs entirely through its traditional industry-funded resources.  In response to the financial crisis, she developed innovative and stabilizing programs that provided temporary liquidity guarantees to unfreeze credit markets and increased deposit insurance limits.  In 2007, she was a singular – and prescient – advocate for systematic loan modifications to stem the coming tidal wave of foreclosures. Ms. Bair also led FDIC resolution strategies to sell failing banks to healthier institutions, while providing credit support of future losses from failed banks’ troubled loans. That strategy saved the Deposit Insurance Fund $40 billion over losses it would have incurred if the FDIC had liquidated those banks.

Chairman Bair has also received several honors for her published work on financial issues, including her educational writings on money and finance for children, and for professional achievement. Among the honors she has received are: Distinguished Achievement Award, Association of Education Publishers (2005); Personal Service Feature of the Year, and Author of the Month Awards, Highlights Magazine for Children (2002, 2003 and 2004); and The Treasury Medal (2002). Her first children’s book, Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock, was published in 2006 and her second, Isabel’s Car Wash, in 2008. Bull by the Horns (2012) documents her tenure as FDIC Chairman.

She is also a regular contributor to CNN Money.

The Rise of the Latin American Middle Class (Francisco Ferreira)

Fri, 03/15/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

IN THE WAKE OF DEBT CRISES IN THE 1980s and a “lost decade” of middle-class growth in the 1990s, and despite the 2002 South American economic crisis and the global economic crisis of 2007, the size of the middle class in Latin America and the Caribbean recently grew by 50 percent—from approximately 100 million people in 2003 to 150 million (or 30 percent of the continent’s population) in 2009. Over the same period, the proportion of people in poverty fell from 44 percent to around 30 percent.   How has this happened, and what are the policy implications for the region and perhaps the world?  Drawing from a recent World Bank report for which he was the lead author, Ferreira digs into the data to explore who has moved into the middle class over the past 15 years, which factors enabled them to do so, and to what extent these same factors explain the drop in poverty. Going forward, there are many potential benefits from a growing middle class, but whether they come to fruition will depend, to a large extent, on whether countries manage to anchor their middle classes in a new, more cohesive, social contract that emphasizes the inclusion of those who have been left behind. Lunch provided, discussion encouraged.

“There is no evidence that the middle class is overly dependent on—or employed by—the public sector. In most Latin American countries for which data exist, public sector employment was more frequent among the rich than among the middle class (although Mexico and Peru were exceptions). The public sector employed more than one-fourth of middle-class workers in only one country: Honduras. It would appear, therefore, that popular images of the middle class—as being made up of either intrepid entrepreneurs (who start their own small businesses and pull themselves up the ladder by their own shoestrings) or lazy bureaucrats (comfortably relying on a government paycheck)— are inaccurate. Typically, the Latin American middle-class worker is a reasonably educated service worker, formally employed by a private enterprise in an urban area.”
– from Economic Mobility and The Rise of the Latin American Middle Class by Francisco Ferreira, Julian Messina, Jamele Rigolini, Luis-Felipe López-Calva, Maria Ana Lugo, and Renos Vakis

Francisco H. G. Ferreira is a Lead Economist at the World Bank's Research Department. His research interests include poverty, inequality, and the political economy of development, and he has published some 25 journal articles and a number of books and book chapters on these topics. In his World Bank career, he has also served as the Deputy Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean (2009-2011), and as a co-Director of the team that wrote the World Development Report 2006, on Equity and Development. Dr. Ferreira is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Economic Inequality and a former editor of Economía, the journal of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association. He also sits on the editorial boards of the Review of Income and Wealth, the World Bank Economic Review, and the Economic Analysis Review, and on the Councils of the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth and of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ). In 2000 and 2001 he received the Adriano Romariz Duarte and the Haralambos Simeonides Prizes from the Brazilian Economic and Econometric Societies, and later the Kendricks Prize for best article published in the Review of Income and Wealth during 2006-07. He was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics. Prior to joining the World Bank's Research Department, he was an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio).

Is US Government Debt Different? (Franklin Allen, Charles Mooney, David Skeel)

Fri, 03/29/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

IN MAY 2012, PENN LAW SCHOOL AND THE WHARTON FINANCIAL INSTITUTION CENTER (FIC) organized the conference “Is U.S. Government Debt Different?” The event was financed by a Sloan Foundation grant to the FIC. The conference was conceived against the background of skyrocketing U.S. government debt, the standoff over the statutory debt limit between the Congress and the President of the United States in the summer of 2011, and the ongoing debt crisis in the Eurozone. This confluence of shocks and near misses created the urgent need to consider the unthinkable: default, restructuring, or a wholesale reassessment of the U.S. Treasury securities’ place in the world. The conference brought together leading economists, historians, lawyers, market participants, and policy makers to discuss different aspects of U.S. government debt, including its role in the global financial markets, its constitutional, statutory and contractual basis, and its sustainability. Now, post-election, with the fiscal cliff debates fresh and more battles over the debt looming, the editors of the conference volume (available as a free e-book) sort through and discuss the conference’s most valuable lessons.

“Restructuring of U.S. obligations on Treasuries would face a significant and obvious complication. In general, the U.S. does not know the identity of the holders of its Treasuries that are held in the commercial book-entry system. (By “holders” of Treasuries, I mean the ultimate beneficial owners on the books of a Federal Reserve Bank or on the books of another intermediary with which the holder maintains a securities account, as discussed below.) It is true that we read about the large foreign holders of U.S. debt, including the Chinese  and Japanese governments. But these data on holders of U.S. debt come from surveys.”  
– from “United States Sovereign Debt: A Thought Experiment on Default and Restructuring” by Charles W. Mooney

Franklin Allen is the Nippon Life Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  He has been on the faculty since 1980. He is currently Co-Director of the Wharton Financial Institutions Center.  He was formerly Vice Dean and Director of Wharton Doctoral Programs and Executive Editor of the Review of Financial Studies, one of the leading academic finance journals. He is a past President of the American Finance Association, the Western Finance Association, the Society for Financial Studies, and the Financial Intermediation Research Society, and a Fellow of the Econometric Society. He received his doctorate from Oxford University. Dr. Allen’s main areas of interest are  corporate finance, asset pricing, financial innovation, comparative financial systems, and financial crises. He is a co-author with Richard Brealey and Stewart Myers of the eighth through tenth editions of the textbook Principles of Corporate Finance

Charles W. Mooney Jr. is a leading legal scholar in the fields of commercial law and bankruptcy law. His book (with S. Harris) Security Interests in Personal Property (Foundation Press, 5th ed. 2011) is a widely adopted text used in law schools around the United States.  Mooney was honored for his contributions to the uniform law process by the Oklahoma City School of Law and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers. He also served as U.S. Delegate at the Diplomatic Conference for the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Aircraft Protocol and for the Diplomatic Conference for the UNIDROIT (Geneva) Convention on Intermediated Securities. Mooney also served as a Co-Reporter for the Drafting Committee for the Revision of UCC Article 9 (Secured Transactions), as the ABA Liaison-Advisor to the Permanent Editorial Board for the UCC, and as a member of Council and Chair of  the Committee on UCC of the ABA Business Law Section. 

David Skeel is the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  He is the author of The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and its (Unintended) Consequences (Wiley, 2011); Icarus in the Boardroom: The  Fundamental Flaws in Corporate America and Where They Came From (Oxford University Press, 2005); Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton University Press, 2001); and numerous articles on bankruptcy, corporate law, Christianity and law, and other topics.  Professor Skeel has also written commentaries for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Books & Culture, The Weekly Standard, and other publications. 

Greek Tragedies: Social Collapse and the Rise of Xenophobia (Nadina Christopoulou)

Fri, 04/12/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

THE RECENT CRISIS IN GREECE has been more than a financial crisis: it has been a social crisis and a crisis of identity that has bolstered the political fortunes of Neo-Nazis and xenophobes and further burdened the already difficult lives of immigrants. An anthropologist and commentator who has worked with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Greece for over a decade provides a close-up glimpse of the effects of the global economic crisis on a vulnerable population. Lunch provided, discussion encouraged.

Nadina Christopouloou trained as an anthropologist at McGill and Cambridge and researched the Roma in Greece, and their social memory, through their storytelling practices. Since 2002, she has worked in Greece with refugees, asylum seekers and migrant women’s networks and organizations.  Recently she prepared a documentary series tracing the parallel paths of migrants in Greece and Greeks abroad. She has also compiled a photographic archive of migrant communities in Greece and Greeks in diaspora over the last century, curated by the Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos. Since 2011, she has been the general secretary of the Greek Council for Refugees. She also writes a weekly column for a major Greek news website, News 247.

Global Economic Crisis Workshops Now Available on YouTube

Looking for a quick course on the past, present, and future of the Global Economic Crisis by some of the world's leading economists, political scientists, historians, and sociologists? Thomas Piketty offers a rigorous analysis of the growing income gap; Mark Blythe explores the "dangerous theory" of austerity; Scott Nelson steps back and looks at financial panics in the United States from a long view; Jefrey Frieden examines debt crises in a comparative perspective; Lane Kenworthy suggests a path forward.

The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum's YouTube page is a one stop gateway to cutting-edge social science for scholars, journalists, policy makers and students. 

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