News

Economist Magazine Quotes Professor Michelle Holder on Black Workers in Current Labor Market

“One reason that a strong labour market is valuable for black Americans is that many work in highly cyclical sectors such as freight delivery. That makes them vulnerable to recessions but also well placed during periods of growth (a similar dynamic exists for Hispanics). A tight labour market also blunts some of the discrimination that black applicants may face when looking for jobs. “During cyclical downturns employers can afford to pick and choose, but when workers are really needed, they are penalised for their biases,” says Michelle Holder, an economist at John Jay College, City University of New York.”

Read full article at: https://www.economist.com/united-states/2024/02/14/black-workers-are-enjoying-a-jobs-boom-in-america

The Left Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About Joe Biden’s “Supply-Side Liberalism”

Pundits have lauded the Biden administration for replacing the free-market consensus with supply-side liberalism. But it is geopolitical tensions with China and labor’s weakness that have made elites feel comfortable with a milquetoast industrial policy.

ANDREJ MARKOVČIČ & NICK FRENCH

Even prior to his inauguration, there was talk that Joe Biden’s administration would mark a break with the neoliberal orthodoxy that has dominated both parties since the Ronald Reagan era. During the height of the pandemic, the president claimed that the “blinders have been taken off,” and his administration would have to address challenges that “may not dwarf but eclipse what FDR faced.”

The unexpectedly generous, albeit frustratingly temporary, COVID-19 relief package that Biden signed into law in March 2021 and, later, his passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIB), the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) seemed to confirm these initial estimates of his ambitions. The president has been, if not the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt, at least a Democrat in a different mold from that of either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of “Bidenism” is its embrace of what pundits have called “supply-side liberalism” or “supply-side progressivism”: giving the state a prominent role in directing investment in the form of tax incentives, direct subsidies, and tariffs to encourage domestic production of goods deemed strategically necessary. The IRA, for instance, offers subsidies for building renewable energy and green manufacturing; the CHIPS Act uses tariffs and subsidies to encourage domestic manufacturing of computer chips.

In April, Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, outlined this new approach in remarks he delivered to the Brookings Institute think tank. The current administration, Sullivan claimed, was rejecting faith in “tax cutting and deregulation, privatization over public action, and trade liberalization as an end in itself” and instead “restor[ing] an economic mentality that champions building.”

What should socialists make of this turn away from neoliberal orthodoxy and the emergence of industrial policy? Biden’s ambitions do mark a step in the direction of rebuilding infrastructure and encouraging economic activity through government intervention. But this move away from the economic orthodoxy of the past forty years has not occurred as a result of the strength of the Left or any other progressive bloc. Despite the recent uptick in worker militancy, it is the weakness of organized labor and working-class political organizations that characterize the current moment.

Read full article at: https://jacobin.com/2023/07/joe-biden-supply-side-liberalism-industrial-policy/

Yes, Socialists Should Support Industrial Policy and a Green New Deal

The capitalist system may be turbulent, inequitable, and antisocial. But there is no “iron law” of capital standing in the way of a program of economic planning for sake of the climate.

J. W. MASON

A few days ago, Dylan Riley wrote a post on New Left Review’s Sidecar blog that provoked a furious response on left-economics twitter. I largely agree with the criticism made by Alex WilliamsNathan TankusDoug Henwood, and others. But I want to try to clarify the larger stakes in this debate.

Riley’s piece starts from the suggestion that the failure of Silicon Valley Bank reflects a larger crisis of overcapacity and lack of investment opportunities. SVB, he writes,

had parked a huge quantity of its deposits in low-yield — but supposedly safe — government-backed securities and low-interest bonds. . . . The bank was overwhelmed by the massive growth in deposits from its tech clients — and neither it nor they could find anything worthwhile to invest in. . . . The SVB collapse is a beautiful, almost paradigmatic, demonstration of the fundamental structural problem of contemporary capitalism: a hyper-competitive system, clogged with excess capacity and savings, with no obvious outlets to soak them up.

This is an elegant framing, but it runs into a problem immediately, involving the ambiguous meaning of “invest.” The depositors in SVB were not venture capitalists, but the firms that they had stakes in. The reason SVB had such big deposits was not because finance was unable to find profitable outlets even in the tech world, but precisely because it had done so. The fact that SVB’s assets consisted of Treasury bonds rather than loans to its depositors reflects the shift in business financing, especially in tech, away from banks toward specialized venture capital funds — an interesting development, certainly, but one that doesn’t tell us anything about the overall population of businesses looking for financing.

Lurking behind Riley’s formulation here seems to be a crude version of commodity money theory, in which money is either out in the world being useful or being left idle in the bank. But money in the real world is always in the form of bank deposits — that’s what money is — regardless of how actively it is circulating.

Read the full article at: https://jacobin.com/2023/04/svb-dylan-riley-green-new-deal-capitalism-socialism

Opinion: New York’s answer to the eviction crisis triggered by COVID-19 needs a successor

By Zac Hale

It has been a year since the statewide eviction moratorium ended in January 2022, and though the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still with us, renters are about to lose another crucial protection.  

New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program is set to close its application process on Jan. 20, 2023.  This program has been a much-needed lifeline to renters, assisting with the rental debt of over 22,000 tenants across New York. The program serves as an eviction protection, as applicants are protected by a stay that pauses tenants’ eviction proceedings until the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance makes a decision on their application. An active stay not only prevents evictions, but postpones court dates, alleviating the strain on judicial resources. The program’s closure comes after months of extensions in hopes of renewed funding. With housing attorneys overwhelmed by the rate and number of eviction cases being pushed through court, and New York City’s homeless shelters under historic strain, the sunsetting of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program will create a gap in tenant protections that governments should be eager to fill.

The pandemic shattered business-as-usual in every facet of public and private life, leading activists and politicians to put forward bold proposals to match the scale of the crises at hand. Government responded to public pressure by expanding unemployment insurance and other benefits, sending out stimulus checks and pausing payments on mortgages and student debt. Struggling tenants pushed for – and won – exceptional interventions including a moratorium on evictions and large-scale funding for payment of rental debt.   

While these measures were controversial, it is crucial for New York’s policymakers and housing advocates to remember that they worked and prevented even greater numbers of New Yorkers becoming homeless or housing insecure. Recognizing the value of safe and stable housing in reducing exposure to diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed a nationwide ban on evictions in 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19. Early research has supported their actions, with multiple studies showing increased rates of COVID-19 exposure and deaths in states where eviction moratoriums were lifted. Moreover, even before the pandemic, studies of the impacts of eviction have found a strong link between eviction and poor health outcomes, including substance abuse, more frequent need for emergency care and higher mortality. 

New York provided even stronger protections in the Tenant Safe Harbor Act of 2020, which delayed or prevented evictions for millions of tenants who suffered coronavirus-related hardships. The state extended these protections multiple times while fighting both the deadly virus and the crises that spread in its wake, with the battle to control the pandemic raging alongside battles for racial, social and economic justice. Each potential expiration of protections brought political conflict over renewal, but each successful extension increased the safety and security of New Yorkers who would otherwise face the dire conditions associated with eviction and resulting debt judgments.  

At Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, we served thousands of clients who faced financial hardships during the early months of the pandemic. These setbacks triggered chain reactions that leave many of our clients vulnerable to this day. Loss of income paired with increased child care and medical expenses led tenants to exhaust what savings they had, taking away not only their means of paying rent but their ability to endure the costs of moving. While many hundreds of these clients received a life raft in the form of Emergency Rental Assistance Program assistance, many more remain on a thin edge of stability. Now, the recent spikes in the cost of living are pushing many families into deeper debt, with households forced to pick between increasingly expensive groceries and payment of rent or other bills.   

While many of the emergency protections designed to address COVID-19 have lapsed, the human impact of the pandemic remains an urgent crisis. This crisis, which already overlapped with other crises and systemic inequities that preceded COVID-19, is now set to be amplified by further economic shocks. Rather than cutting costs and winding down protections, elected officials should push for a renewed commitment to the safety and stability of New Yorkers.  

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program kept renters in their homes, helped landlords make their mortgage payments and saved the scarce resources of our court system. It worked before, and it can work again. Whether New York extends the current program or creates another system that protects and assists renters, the closure of the program’s application signals the opening of new opportunities for bold action. With courage and conviction, we can weather this crisis and the next, together.

Original Article: https://www.cityandstateny.com/opinion/2023/01/opinion-new-yorks-answer-eviction-crisis-triggered-covid-19-needs-successor/381830/