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Finance and the Economy

Wall Street Readies An Avalanche Of Lies

Public pension funds benefiting nearly 26 million Americans have invested $1.3 trillion in high-risk, high-fee “alternative” investments like private equity, hedge funds, and private real estate that have been wracked with corruption scandals and financial misconduct. Those pension funds could soon face a reckoning, as the downturn in the stock market spreads to these alternative investments, resulting in costly reductions of their estimated value and in turn, increased contributions from state and local governments to meet those losses. But most public pension members and beneficiaries have no way of knowing the extent of distress facing their investments. That’s because public pension funds rely on valuations provided by the managers themselves.

Vectors Of Inflation

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s recent speech at the Jackson Hole conference, delivered to an audience of central bankers from around the world, was a highly anticipated event. He arrived there a chastened man, having previously claimed that US inflation was a transitory phenomenon while implementing the lax monetary policies that many blamed for its recent surge. Could he now pull off a ‘soft landing’, bringing inflation back down from its forty-year high of 9.1% to the desired 2%, without causing a recession? Central banks have various tools at their disposal for managing inflation: higher rates, quantitative tightening (i.e. selling assets to reduce liquidity in the system) and managing expectations about future monetary policy through ‘forward guidance’.

The Cost of Not Going Co-op

At most landlord-owned mobile home parks, residents live in a property owner’s fiefdom, with no control over how their community is managed. While residents usually own their homes, they must pay rent on the land that the home is on, and face annual unfettered rent increases with not a semblance of tenant protection. Despite their name, many mobile homes are often immobile after sitting in place for a few years; any attempt to move them could potentially lead to major or even complete structural damage. Cooperative ownership offers a way for residents to not only have a say in their community’s decision-making, but also to prevent rent hikes and keep their housing costs affordable. Compare the space rents in two California parks over 27 years: Leisureville, which residents purchased and transformed into a cooperative; and Rancho Yolo, a mobile home community where the owner refused to sell to the residents.

Why Grassroots Activists Are Turning To The Wonky World Of Monetary Policy To Fight For Economic Justice

Ohio - How many people would like to cut the cost of local mass transit improvements in half, divert local tax dollars from big bank use to supporting low-income housing at home, see one-time federal relief packages for struggling families continue? All that and much more becomes possible without costing taxpayers a dime, if we choose a more efficient and democratic system for handling money than our current one, which systematically benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. To learn how, we’ll need to explore a different “plumbing system” for handling our money supply. In a groundbreaking move in this direction, a League of Women Voters group has been doing exactly that, calling us to consider how something we take for granted — the money supply — can be reinvented in a way that promotes democracy, justice and the planet.

Three Years Since 2019 Protests In Iraq, Most Demands Remain Unfulfilled

This October marks the third anniversary of the 2019 popular protests in Iraq. On Tuesday, October 25, a large number of people gathered in the Tahrir square in capital Baghdad and paid homage to the people who were killed in the protests. They raised slogans in support of what has been termed by the protesters as the Tishreen movement. The countrywide protests in 2019, rooted in the long-term grievances of people against successive governments, went on for months. Before the global COVID-19 outbreak forced them to end, the protests were successful in forcing the then government led by Adil Abdul Mahdi to resign, putting the ruling classes on the defensive and pressing for reforms.

Policymakers Should Expand Child Tax Credit In Year-End Legislation

The Child Tax Credit expansion drove child poverty sharply downward in 2021. Combined with other relief efforts, the expansion helped lower child poverty by more than 40 percent between 2020 and 2021, reaching a record low of 5.2 percent, Census Bureau data released last week show. The credit’s expansion expired at the end of last year, but policymakers can renew this successful poverty-fighting policy in year-end bipartisan tax legislation. There is pressure on Congress from business interests to delay a corporate tax increase; Congress should not consider any business tax breaks without also expanding the Child Tax Credit. The new Census data are the clearest evidence to date of the expanded Child Tax Credit’s success.

One In Three Americans Are Struggling: What If We United?

If you’re having trouble making ends meet right now, you’re not alone. Nearly 52 million adults – about 1 in 4 – are having difficulty paying for usual household expenses, according to the most recent Census data, and, according to Monmouth polling, more than 4 in 10 Americans, 42 percent, “say they are struggling to remain where they are financially.” So let’s split the difference between those numbers and say one in three American adults say they’ve found it difficult to cover expenses or pay bills. Does that sound like a system that’s working well? Does that sound like a machine that is just humming along beautifully? Does that sound like citizens are living the American dream? This system is clearly not working for everyone and this is happening while rich-ass Congresspeople do next to nothing to help Americans.

The Fight Against Inflation Doesn’t Have To Be Rich-People Friendly

The world’s central bankers, almost without exception, are now busy swinging sledgehammers. Only whopping interest-rate hikes, they’re preaching, can pound down inflation’s rising prices. In the United States, the Federal Reserve has so far this year raised the nation’s benchmark interest rate by three points, something that hasn’t happened since the 1980s, and still more rate hikes, the Fed pledges, are coming. These interest-rate boosts, the central banker reasoning goes, will slow the economy, deflate consumer demand, and get prices shrinking. The downside? Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is readily acknowledging the hardships rate hikes are provoking. The slower growth and softer labor market rising rates make inevitable, Powell conceded this past August, “will also bring some pain to households and businesses.”

Evictions In Washington, DC Are On The Rise Post COVID Protections

As the pandemic waned, Vivian Tatabod, a nurse in Prince George’s County, says she noticed many of her neighbors in her apartment building getting evicted. “When people were going through so much,” she says. “Stuff outside, thrown out, families, struggling to find a place.” Rent in her building, Takoma Towers, recently shot up — in Tatabod’s case, by $400 per month. She says she’s paid her rent while working on the front lines, treating elderly COVID-19 patients. Recently, she was contracted to work at DC Prep to help with COVID-19 testing. While working, she was also raising two children on her own. But two months ago, that contract ended and she lost her job. Now, she too is facing eviction.

Poverty Is A Public Policy Choice

It should not have taken a pandemic to realize poverty is a public policy choice. Public investments in safety net programs continue to be extremely effective poverty reduction tools, as newly released Census income data show. Government social programs kept tens of millions of people out of poverty in 2021. Because of expansions to programs like unemployment insurance benefits and the child tax credit, poverty rates were actually lower in 2021 than they were prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The poverty reduction achieved through expanded social insurance programs highlights how much policymakers’ choices can impact poverty.

Why Aren’t Workers At Unions Eligible For Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

In 2007, the Bush-era Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, also known as 20 USC 1087e (m)(1). The premise of the program was simple: student loan borrowers who made their payments would have any remaining educational debts forgiven after 10 years of public service. Through PSLF, lawmakers and advocates intended to make public service a viable option for more borrowers, including graduates carrying large student loan balances. Unfortunately, this intention has not been realized for most borrowers or PSLF participants. Rife with exclusions and plagued by a history of poor communication and logistical failures, PSLF has historically approved very few borrowers for loan forgiveness even though many have applied.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Inflation Reduction Act’s Effects on US Agriculture

The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, passed on August 11, 2022, includes more than $370 billion in investments towards conservation, environmental, and agricultural programs. This landmark bill was heralded by President Joe Biden as “the most aggressive action ever…in confronting the climate crisis.” In a letter to House colleagues, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi even proclaimed that the bill is “life-changing legislation”. The Inflation Reduction Act is certainly an important piece of legislation, with many far-reaching impacts on the US food and agriculture sector. Not all of these impacts are good, however, and some are downright ugly.

It Doesn’t Trickle Down

It is a feeling of outrage, with a strong sense of déjà-vu. From the vantage point in the United Kingdom — where inequality and social injustice are in particularly sharp focus — we’re on the brink of yet another social and economic crisis. Even more so than in the rest of Europe, energy prices, and the cost of living are rocketing. But what is happening at the top? What are our leaders doing? Why are some people, yet again, making eye-watering financial gains while others face destitution and a real fear of being cold and hungry this winter?

The Fed’s Secret Plan To Suck Workers Dry

We’re still getting over a pandemic. Healthcare costs are totally out of control. Everyone’s in debt and hates their job. The insects are disappearing, which feels like a bad sign. I have to watch a Jeff Bezos interview just to see bug eyes anymore. On top of all that, the bankers at the Federal Reserve have decided they’re going to make things way worse. As reported in Common Dreams, “Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said… that the U.S. central bank is ready to inflict ‘pain’ on households as it continues to fight inflation, remarks that drew widespread backlash from experts who warned the Fed appears poised to spark a devastating recession and mass layoffs.” The Federal Reserve – the privately owned central bank of the U.S. – wants to screw us all some more. So the Fed claims it’s raising interest rates to fight inflation, but that isn’t why they’re doing it.

IMF Tells Bolivia To Drop Its Successful Economic Model

The IMF released a report today on the Bolivian economy in which it recommends adopting drastic neoliberal measures, including; reducing workers’ salaries, cutting public investments, and ending currency controls. These policies have turned Bolivia from one of the poorest countries in the region into it’s fastest-growing economy. The report takes aim at the government’s spending on development, saying, “The government must restrict spending, including eliminating the end of year wage bonus for workers, they must restrict the growth of wages for public sector workers, and limit the growth of public investment and subsidies.” The ‘end-of-year wage bonus’ for workers (in both the public and private sector) refers to a policy introduced under Evo Morales that requires employers to pay their workers a bonus equal to double their monthly wage, but only if annual GDP growth is over 4.5%.
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