Research Roundup


In their new study Out of Balance, the Center for Responsible Lending condemns the $17.5 billion per year charged to consumers for "overdraft loans" when consumers bounce a check.  The report notes that banks use various tactics to increase the number of overdrafts, from holding deposits longer than necessary, cashing high-dollar checks first so that multiple overdrafts get generated on smaller items, and failing to warn customers of low funds even when it would be technologically easy to do so.

Wal-Mart's sale of $27 billion worth of Chinese imports each year has led to the elimination of 200,000 U.S. jobs since 2001, an Economic Policy Institute report finds. A parallel report, Marketing the Gains from Trade, debunks the economic claims made by "free trade" advocates in recent ad campaigns.

Addicted to Oil, a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council ranks different states' oil dependence and what different states are doing to wean themselves from that dependence. Residents of Mississippi and South Carolina lead the nation in percentage of income spent on gasoline, while residents in New York and Connecticut spend the lowest percentage of income on gasoline.

Since 2002, the Urban Institute finds, in its new report Trends in Work Supports for Low-Income Families with Children, that work supports for low-income families, from Medicaid to food stamps, vary wildly between different states. States have been spending less on child care, but as family incomes declined due to the weak economy, states have been spending more on food stamps and on health care as private insurance has disappeared for many families.  

A new Commonwealth Fund study finds that patients in the United States get less face time with primary care physicians than citizens in Australia and New Zealand, a corrective to right-wing propaganda that government-funded health care leads to worse care.

In a new report, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlights that making the "Internet Tax Freedom Act" permanent and abolishing the "grandfather clause" that had protected taxes on Internet transactions that existed before its enactment would cost states hundreds of millions of dollars. Since other developed countries that outrank the US in broadband adoption see no economic problems from taxing Internet transactions, the report emphasizes that there is little public policy justification for exempting some of the most profitable businesses in the economy from local taxation.

In One Year Out: Experiences of Prisoners Returning to Cleveland, the Urban Institute tracks the lives of 300 former prisoners in the year after release and finds that many have trouble finding housing due to their criminal record and only 37 percent had a full-time job.  Most suffered from a chronic physical health condition and one-third reported some form of drug use or alcohol intoxication at the end of the year after release.


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