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Showing posts from January, 2024

Edward Blum and the Fragile State of Affirmative Action: A Young White Man’s Perspective. Daniel Merritt, Gonzaga University, Intern.

          In 1935’s ‘The Black Reconstruction of America’, W.E.B. Du Bois describes the tragic nature of man to revert to what they know even if that knowledge is an atrocity: “The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery” . Now, in a time of supposed modernization, we witness the Supreme Court behaving just as Du Bois indicates with respect to  Edward Blum’s reckless onslaught against affirmative action. Starting with Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC). America moves back towards the history we seek to escape.  In two cases, Blum fought for the supposition that affirmative action actively discriminates against Asian students. As he stated in an interview with Time Magazine, “The mission of Students for Fair Admissions, the sole mission, is to end the use of race and ethnicity in college admissions. What happens after that is a different story.” (Carlisle.) Blum further clarifies that he wants to eliminate admission-discri

Place-Based Growth: Assessing Biden-Harris's Bold Approach to Economic Renewal. Abhey Singh Guram, Beloit College, Intern

(PHOTO: Abhey Singh Guram, Creative Investment Intern, pictured with Dr. Lael Brainard, National Economic Advisor, at The Brookings Institution on January 22nd, 2024.) During a recent event at the Brookings Institution, Dr. Lael Brainard, President Biden's National Economic Advisor, emphasized the importance of place-based growth in revitalizing communities across the United States. The discussion revolved around the administration's commitment to spreading economic prosperity to regions left behind, focusing on sustainable initiatives and connecting communities.  This piece will explore the environmental justice framework, the concept of equitable development, their correlation with the points raised at the Brookings event, and recent initiatives that have come out of the White House. It underscores the importance of sustainable policy-making to build more resilient communities, and the importance of sustainable initiatives, elucidating how all these elements intertwined. Envi

Elon, ESG and DEI

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX, recently made headlines with critical remarks about Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and his stance on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). These comments have ignited a firestorm of debate, raising questions about Musk and the broader implications of his views. At the heart of Musk's success is his work in the environmental sector, particularly with Tesla's electric vehicles, which have significantly contributed to the 'E' in ESG. This makes his dismissal of the entire ESG framework somewhat self serving and paradoxical. While Musk's innovations have propelled the environmental agenda forward, his recent comments suggest a dissonance with the 'Social' and 'Governance' aspects of ESG. Musk's critique of the Social component, implied in his rejection of DEI, hints at a broader discomfort, perhaps due to his background as a child of apartheid, with initiatives aimed at leveling the

SECURE 2.0 Pension Reform. Daniel Merritt, Gonzaga University, Intern.

Through their January 24th discussion on SECURE 2.0 (America’s evolution of pension reform set to take effect in 2025), the Brookings Institution conveyed a powerful sentiment: retirement plans in America are ineffective and insufficient.  Brookings senior fellow Mark Iwry started the conversation by summarizing a recent work put together by himself and coauthors examining SECURE 2.0 and how it has developed in the grand scheme of American retirement since the 20th century. He indicates that the story starts with ERISA, a 1974 pension reform policy which put retirement plans in the hands of employers. Not only did this prove to be intangible but it also favored those who retained their jobs for life, unfairly polarizing those with volatile employment histories or the need to switch professions (a population often composed of minority peoples).  Seeing discontentment with ERISA, Iwry considers the rise of the 401K in the 1980s. The 401K promised a distinct improvement to the previously

Review: The NY Fed Considers An Economy That Works for All. Daniel Merritt, Gonzaga University, Intern.

With changing times comes changing monetary policy, and who better to reiterate said changes than the New York Federal Reserve. Accordingly, at a conference titled ‘An Economy that Works for All’, the NY Fed describes a 2024 initiative to highlight and address structural discrimination in the economy of the United States.  Andy Howitt describes why these actions are essential in quantifying the impact of minority business  on gross national GDP (if given equal opportunity) to be ‘in the trillions’. Nonetheless, he clarifies that inflation and economic pressure have significantly disparate effects on minorities, serving to keep America’s wealth gap constant.  The gravity of addressing this economic discrimination is further magnified through the experiences of three speakers. Among them was Adina Bio, a black business woman who sought to establish an IHOP in her hometown. Despite having all documents in order, Adina was denied a loan from banks three times before finally receiving enoug

Investing in all of America: A conversation with National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard. Daniel Merritt and Matias Facchinato-Sitja, Interns.

On Monday, January 22, The Brookings Institution hosted White House National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard, who outlined the Biden-Harris administration’s focus on supporting communities that have been left behind, and the direction of the economic agenda in 2024. The event began with a forward by Ms. Brainard. She debriefed the systematic issues in Reagan's 'trickle-down economics' philosophy, offering Biden's place-based growth as an alternative. Where the former spurs regional inequality for the benefit of some, the latter targets those inequalities at their most basic local level to provide long-term solutions lasting well into the future. Brainard outlined six principles of place-based policy.  The first was a well-designed environment for public investment (acting as a foundation for private investment) ensured by Biden's infrastructure law.  Second were additional special investments to propel private investment, like those in emerging technology and sustain

Reexamining Critiques of DEI and ESG

In recent discussions surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), a faulty narrative has gained traction, painting these efforts as ideologically driven movements destined for failure. This perspective oversimplifies and misrepresents the complex history and goals of DEI and ESG.  Firstly, the historical roots of DEI are often overlooked. Contrary to claims that DEI is a recent or ideologically monolithic movement, its origins trace back centuries, notably to the Quakers in 1650 who opposed slavery. This long history challenges the notion that DEI is merely a modern ideological construct, instead highlighting it as an evolving response to enduring social injustices. The assertion that DEI is an infiltration of Marxist ideology into institutions is another false oversimplification. DEI initiatives are not about enforcing a uniformity of thought. Rather, they seek to address systemic inequities and foster an environment where divers

BankThink: The Navy Federal discrimination case should be a lesson for banks.

Banking, a cornerstone of economic activity, has historically been marred by unequal practices, particularly in loans issued to members of minority groups. A recent article on government programs addressing racial disadvantage offers a launching point to discuss similar issues in the banking sector. By not extending credit to minorities, banks not only fail in their social responsibility but also incur significant financial losses. This op-ed aims to highlight the tangible benefits of inclusive banking and the pitfalls of discriminatory practices, using the Navy Federal Credit Union case as a benchmark. Navy Federal, the largest credit union in the U.S., is currently facing a lawsuit over a report that it has been rejecting more than half of applications for conventional mortgages by Black borrowers while approving applications for white borrowers with similar income and debt levels. Banks that overlook minority applicants for loans are missing out on a significant market segment. This

An Economy That Works for All? NY Federal Reserve Bank. January 17, 2024.

On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York hosts a hybrid event centered on achieving equitable growth. Panels focus on broadband access, small business funding, and natural disasters and resilience. 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST (Reception to follow) Location: Federal Reserve Bank of New York Auditorium, 33 Liberty Street, New York, NY. (This is a hybrid event; guests can attend either in-person or virtually.) AGENDA 2:30pm-3:00pm Coffee and Tea Networking 3:00pm-3:10pm Welcome & Opening Remarks: John C. Williams, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of New York 3:10pm-3:20pm Equitable Growth & Research from Fed System: Andrew F. Haughwout, Director of Household and Public Policy Research, Federal Reserve Bank of New York 3:20pm-3:55pm Small Business Finance: Supporting Main Street Heroes Talk by Adenah Bayoh, Founder & CEO, Adenah Bayoh & Companies Claire Kramer M

Unemployment Data for December 2023

 The unemployment data for December 2023, when analyzed by race, presents the following picture: Key Observations: - There remains a noticeable disparity in unemployment rates among racial groups. The unemployment rate for Black or African American individuals is consistently higher than for other races throughout the year. - The unemployment rate for Asians, although lower than the national average in December 2022, saw a significant increase by November 2023 before slightly decreasing in December 2023. - White individuals experienced a modest increase in unemployment rates over the year, with a slight uptick from November to December 2023. This may drive volatility in the national political environment and should be carefully monitored.  - The most significant monthly change was observed in the Black or African American group, where there was a decrease of 0.6% from November to December 2023. The fluctuations in unemployment rates observed over the course of the year, particularly am

Disparities in Income and Investment Opportunities. January 22, 2024.

Please join the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Monday, January 22, 2024, for a hybrid event exploring income inequality and its disparate impact on communities’ health and economic outcomes. Jeff Fuhrer, non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and a foundation fellow at the Eastern Bank Foundation, will present highlights from his book, “The Myth That Made Us,” and will participate in a discussion with David Erickson, head of Community Development at the New York Fed, in a thoughtful discussion about income inequality and prosperity in our country. The event will be of interest to capital providers, community-based organizations, philanthropists, and policymakers. RSVP:

Request for Information: US Department Commerce Business Diversity Principles. Due 2/2/2024.

The US Department of Commerce has issued a Request for Information (RFI) inviting the public to provide feedback on the Business Diversity Principles. The department seeks input from private sector employers, anchor institutions, workers, educational leaders, civil rights advocates, and other relevant stakeholders. The aim is to gather feedback to help refine the Business Diversity Principles and develop resources to support the private sector in enhancing and expanding its Business Diversity efforts.  The Department of Commerce has developed a draft of Business Diversity Principles based on input from the private sector and subject matter experts. The draft Principles focus on executive leadership, organizational strategy, workforce development, human resources, community investment, and business opportunities. The department is interested in hearing from members of the public on the draft Principles.  Commerce is also interested in hearing about existing Business Diversity efforts f

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