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Showing posts from February, 2023


Data: Nearly 80 of Black Entrepreneurs Believe They Run Thriving Businesses, Yet Gaining Access to Capital Still a Hurdle -  The article highlights the fact that, despite the resilience of black entrepreneurs in dealing with record inflation, a pandemic and overall economic uncertainty, the issue of access to capital remains a significant hurdle. Almost 50% of black business owners report they have issues accessing finance.  Be that as it may, the provision of information about sources of finance is a step in the right direction. The article notes that Bank of America and Seneca Women compiled a database on sources of capital specifically for black entrepreneurs (Ed note: also see the Minority and Women-owned Company Small Business Financing Guide and Workbook ).  Knowing what lenders are looking for is helpful, regardless of the sour

Review: The Black American Experience - Wealth, Race and the Workforce. Ntsetselelo Dlamini, ESG Intern, Skidmore College

It is clear that black unemployment is consistently higher than the national average. Wealth inequality is even more pronounced across racial categories: the median white family owns 8x more wealth than the median black family. While different strategies can be used to tackle such issues, I believe it is imperative that these statistics are viewed in a historical and political context before we move to identifying solutions that can address the problem.  Through the webinar we got exposed to different schools of thought. One was the suggestion that the federal government settle the Black/white wealth gap difference through some form of reparations to the descendants of slaves. Logically, this could have the effect of narrowing the gap and can be justified by the fact that upon the abolition of slavery, black people were not compensated for their years of unpaid labor that helped generate wealth for those who owned them. Racial discrimination through Jim Crow and redlining also helped t

Brookings Institution issued a report titled “Black-owned businesses..The challenges, solutions, and opportunities for prosperity.” Here's Why It's Wrong...

Recently, the Brookings Institution issued a report titled “ Black-owned businesses in U.S. cities: The challenges, solutions, and opportunities for prosperity. ” While we appreciate the effort, the report is flawed in several significant ways.  It opens with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s statement at a MLK day event in 2017. She indicated:  “From Reconstruction, to Jim Crow, to the present day, our economy has never worked fairly for Black Americans —or, really, for any American of color.”  This is, of course, not accurate. As the chart below indicates, the economy has worked well for Asian Americans and is improving the economic standing of Hispanics at a rapid rate. According to the US Census Bureau, “non-Hispanic White householders had a median household wealth of $187,300, compared with $14,100 for Black householders and $31,700 for Hispanic householders. Asian householders had a median household wealth of $206,400, which is not statistically different from the estimate for


In 2023, one hundred and twenty years after Maggie Walker became the first African American woman to charter a bank and serve as a bank president,  sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha,  the country’s oldest social organization dedicated to and operated by Black women, announced the formation of a Federal Credit Union. The new institution aims to build generational wealth for Black women, promote social justice and uplift communities. The number of Black owned and operated financial institutions has fallen dramatically over the past thirty years, declining from 55 banks in 1994 to 18 (out of a total of 4,236) today. There are 33 Black owned and managed credit unions currently out of a total of 4,813.  At 6 tenths of one percent of credit unions and 4 tenths of one percent of all banks, Black banks and credit unions are simply not a factor in the industry, and won’t be until their numbers increase significantly. We have long suggested that a more deliberate effort is required to increase the rele

The OCC Bank Merger Symposium, Charlie Gainey, ESG Intern, Bates College

Photo by Charlie Gainey If the OCC’s bank merger symposium had to be summed up in three words, it would be this: more regulation needed. That was the takeaway I got from the speakers last week at the event . (OCC Bank Merger Symposium. Washington, D.C. Feb 10, 2023. ) Benjamin McDonough, the OCC’s chief counsel, put it best when he said that regulators need to “build a better mousetrap,” and that if the current regulations aren’t updated then harmful bank mergers will be likely to pass through. He followed up that “this mousetrap needs to be not only theoretically sound and consistent with our values, but also capable of implementation within the statutory criteria for merger review." Even Randal Quarles, the former supervision vice chair of the Federal Reserve, was quoted as saying that many see the current bank merger regulatory system as “a delphic and hermetic process that is very ad hoc… and then other people see a rubber stamp .” Another important note from the symposium co

State of the Union 2023. 윤정민, American University ESG 인턴.

  " 실업률은 3.4% 로 50 년 만에 최저치입니다 . 흑인과 히스패닉 근로자들의 거의 기록적인 낮은 실업률입니다 ." 라고 조 바이든 대통령이 말했습니다 . 80 만 개의 새로운 제조업 일자리가 창출되었습니다 . 예를 들어 반도체 과학법으로 알려진 행동을 위한 CHIPs 승인 이후 인텔은 오하이오주에 반도체 공장을 설립해 총 1 만 개의 일자리를 창출했고 , 초당적 인프라법은 지금까지 공항을 포함해 2 만 개의 프로젝트를 지원했습니다 . 바이든이 2 년 임기 동안 이룬 경제적 성과는 1,200 만 개의 새로운 일자리를 창출하고 실업률 3.4% 로 지난 50 년 동안 최저치를 달성한 것이 대단하다고 생각합니다 . 특히 흑인과 히스패닉계 사람들에게는 기록적인 고용률이라는 측면에서 매우 의미가 있다고 생각합니다 . 게다가 , 바이든은 중산층을 위한 경제를 강조했습니다 . 보수가 좋은 제조업 일자리가 너무 많이 해외로 넘어갔지만 반도체법 , 인플레이션방지법 등을 실행하여 미국으로 다시 돌아올 것이라고 전망됩니다 . The unemployment rate is 3.4%, a 50-year low, with near record low unemployment for Black and Hispanic workers.  President Joe Biden said  800,000 new manufacturing jobs were created after the approval of the CHIPS Act, known as the Semiconductor Science Act. Intel alone created 10,000 jobs by establishing a semiconductor plant in Ohio, and the bipartisan infrastructure law has so far supported 20,000 projects, including airports. I think Biden's eco

The Hill’s "EV (Electric Vehicle) Summit." Charlie Gainey, ESG Intern, Bates College

The Hill’s EV Summit addressed many of the recent policy changes in the electric vehicle (EV) and autonomous vehicle (AV) markets, and where they might be heading in the future.  Among the guest speakers was Washington state representative Rick Larsen, who also serves as co-chair of the U.S.- China Working Group. Rep. Larsen talked about the exponential growth of EV sales, noting that 30,000 EVs were sold in 2020, 66,000 in 2021, and over 100,000 in 2022.  With this kind of growth, he argued, the U.S. needs to prioritize friendly, safe options for mining the materials needed to produce EVs. Along with that comes a need for clarity on how to fill demand. He also pointed out that in many ways, EVs and AVs are an equity issue: Tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act are helping to make them more affordable, but the market still needs to grow at a rate in which there are options at all income levels. Guest speakers echoed Rep. Larsen’s comments, adding that used EVs need a market

POLITICO’s “The Fifty - America’s Governors" Charlie Gainey, ESG Intern, Bates College

Last week I had the pleasure of attending POLITICO’s “The Fifty - America’s Governors,” an event hosting a handful of governors who discussed their views of each state’s environmental economy, and their goals as governor. Here are some of my impressions, specifically on Governors Chris Sununu, Roy Cooper, and Doug Burgum: ● Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH): ○ “The government is not here to solve your problems – it’s here to create as many opportunities as we can for you and your families.” ○ Democrats are playing the game of big government, and the modern Republican party is trying to outplay them at the same game; ○ Both Democrats and Republicans have extremes; not everyone in either party is wrong. To that end… ○ 80% of people are in the middle of said extremes and want to get something done; ○ Considering running for president. ● Roy Cooper (D-NC) ○ Prioritizes stopping “culture war legislation” between parties while making economic progress in-state; ○ Acted as Chairman of the Democratic


In a major setback, venture capital funding for Black businesses dropped significantly last year. (NOTE: Overall, funding has increased from 2013 to 2022. See chart below.) That financial backing fell 45% for those businesses, based on data from analytics firm Crunchbase, per CNBC. The news outlet disclosed that it is the largest year-over-year decline for Black entrepreneurs. And the decrease was much greater than the 36% drop in VC funding altogether. The descent came after venture capital funding for Black founders reached record levels for Black founders in recent years. In the first half of 2021, Black founders raised almost $1.8 billion, more than four times the capital raised during same time the prior year. The fresh numbers offer a glimpse how challenging VC funding can be for Black entrepreneurs. Black founders saw an uptick in VC funding following the murder of George Floyd  and subsequent national racial injustice protests. Many of the nation’s largest corporations vowed te

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies hosted Dr. Lisa Cook. Ntsetselelo Dlamini, Intern, Skidmore College.

On February 10, 2023 the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies hosted Dr. Lisa Cook as part of its Voice at the Table Series. It is worth noting that Dr Lisa Cook is the first black woman to be confirmed as Federal Reserve Board Governor in its 108-year history.  During the exchange, Dr Cook explained the role of the Federal Reserve in achieving its dual mandate of ensuring maximum employment and price stability. When asked about how monetary policy affects different demographics, she noted that inflation tends to disproportionately affect low income earners and that average unemployment tends to be higher among African-Americans. While monetary policy can be informed by this finding, it is a high level tool that targets the economy as a whole.  Her perspective on the economic outlook as we settle into 2023 is one characterized by sluggish growth. The key risks that could affect this outlook are the ongoing war in Ukraine as well as the implications of China's reopening i

Le fameux State of the Union. Gregory Savioz-Buck, Étudiant

Le fameux State of the Union a eu lieu la semaine dernière, lors d'une semaine très particulière. En effet, les Etats-Unis venaient de lancer un missile sur un ballon chinois au-dessus de leur territoire. Le discours du président Joe Biden était certainement attendu par le peuple américain, mais aussi par certaines personnes au Canada. En tant qu'étudiant canadien en histoire, j'étais impatient de voir quelle forme prendrait le discours de Biden. En général, il s'est montré rassurant et a tendu la main à la collaboration entre les deux grands partis. Cependant, il faut se rappeler que plusieurs de ses ennemis politiques étaient présents avec lui à la Chambre des représentants et ont tout fait pour lui rendre la vie difficile pendant son discours (cris, visages confus, etc.). Je pense ici aux réactions de Marjorie Taylor-Green. La bipolarisation des idéologies devient un élément perturbateur aux Etats-Unis. En tant que voisin des États-Unis, cette bipolarisation, qui se

A Canadian Perspective on the State of the Union Speech. Gregory Savioz-Buck, Intern, University of Sherbrooke, Canada.

The State of the Union speech took place last week, at a very unusual time. Indeed, the United States had just launched a missile at a Chinese balloon over its territory.  US President Biden's speech was certainly highly anticipated by the American people, but also by some in Canada. As a Canadian student of history, I was eager to see what form Biden's speech would take.  In general, he was reassuring and reached out the hand of collaboration between the two major US parties. It should be remembered, however, that many of his political enemies were at the speech in the House of Representatives and did everything they could to make his life difficult (shouting, making faces, etc.). I am referring to Marjorie Taylor-Green. The ideological polarization has become a disturbing fixture of national politics in the United States.  As a neighbor, this polarization, which is also growing increasingly in Canada, is worrisome.  It remains to be seen whether President Biden will be able t

Reuters Events: Transform Payments USA 2023 (June 13-14, 2023, Austin)

Reuters Events: Transform Payments USA 2023 (June 13-14, 2023, Austin) will unite 150+ senior executives from across the banking, payments, and regulatory ecosystems to discuss the future direction of the industry. From the implications of instant payments maturity, to finding harmony between regulation and innovation; from elevating the treasury experience through next-generation technologies to preparing for a new age of cyber security & fraud. Reuters Events will bring together a forum of global financial institutions and their network of partners to reimagine how the world pays.   Reuters Events: Transform Payments USA 2023, Conference and Exhibition. Austin Marriott South, Austin, Texas.  

Review of the 2023 State of the Union Speech. Mahlubi Dlamini, ESG Intern, Skidmore College

From a rhetorical perspective, the State of the Union speech by the President of the United States was well-delivered, engaging and had an overall sense of optimism. It seemed the president was on a mission to reassure Americans at home that he is indeed fighting for them, whether against far right Republicans who want to decrease social security spending or against corporations trying to manipulate consumers through “junk fees.” He is there to ensure that neither happens. It was also refreshing to hear the President’s emphasis on bipartisanship going forward, something that will certainly be hard to do in an increasingly polarized Congress.   Be that as it may, as an international student economist I could not help but wonder about the direction of the United States when it comes to international trade. The president highlighted his commitment to putting America first, a popular domestic narrative most often associated with former president Donald Trump. The Biden administration, has

Seaweed Cultivation as an Alternative to Traditional Fertilizers. Charlie Gainey, ESG Intern, Bates College.

Photo: The Pew Charitable Trusts Early last year, Creative Investment Research (CIR) posted several articles on the opportunities and outlook of the seaweed farming industry. Specifically, CIR found the global seaweed farming industry reached $11.5 billion in production value in 2020. Furthermore, researchers predict a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% until 2026. While the global fertilizer market is valued much higher ($201.1 billion in 2021) it is projected to grow at a CAGR of only 3.4% between 2022 and 2030. 1 Despite its rapid recent growth, the global seaweed farming market has been around for decades. While seaweed and kelp cultivation contributed evenly to total production in 1960, by 2019 cultivation had increased 1,000 times and was 97% of total production. There are a few key reasons for the incredible growth we’ve seen in seaweed farming. First, the war in Ukraine has provided a unique divestment opportunity. Russia is the world’s largest producer of fertilizer, c

Yellen in Africa. Mahlubi Dlamini, ESG Intern, Skidmore College

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's 10-day trip to Zambia, South Africa and Senegal sought to “highlight the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to deepen U.S.-Africa economic ties, including by expanding trade and investment flows and promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth” (US Treasury). This visit fulfills the promise that President Joe Biden made at the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit that he and members of his cabinet would visit the continent in 2023.  It seems the US is recognizing the growing importance Africa will have in the coming decades. While in Senegal, the Secretary stressed that “Africa will shape the trajectory of the world economy over the next century.” Given this, the US clearly wants to take a more proactive approach to diplomatic relations with the African continent. It also seems China’s involvement in Africa has not gone unnoticed. Yellen called out China as being a barrier to resolving Zambia’s debt crisis, explaining that loans backed by China “ca

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