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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 enough funding to open her regional branch(and with a push from her non-minority consultant at IHOP nonetheless). Her story highlights the ongoing difficulty that minorities continue to face in financing entrepreneurship. Specialized loans and grants exist to level the playing field, however Adina clarifies that funding into monetary vehicles like CDFIs is significantly disproportionate to the amount of money that aspiring minority business owners require to establish their own namesakes. It’s made clear that the problem won’t be remedied by throwing additional money around in the form of these grants, it must be cut off at the root by addressing the banking system’s systematic discrimination in loan-issuance. 

Another highlight of the NY Fed’s conference was the perspective of Derek Blakeney, a high-school student with insights on the digital divide. Derek tells of his experience throughout the Covid pandemic and how internet/broadband access was absolutely essential to his learning. He states that having access to efficient broadband for the first time in the pandemic enabled him to pursue passions unavailable to him prior, ‘connect to opportunity’ and learn at a new pace. His testimony further cements that the predominantly minority regions of the United States without access to the internet are currently unable to pursue their goals with the same speed as the rest of the country. They stay in the past while technology rapidly pushes our economy towards a new normal. The NY Fed acknowledges this and seeks to mobilize these under-privileged communities by working to provide greater access to broadband as a means of establishing racial equity in the workforce.

Though not yet taking material action, the NY Fed has made an informal promise through this event: that future initiatives will be cognizant and respectful of the existing racial wealth gap. While the greater acknowledgement of systematic discrimination is absolutely beneficial in America’s economic discussion, only time will tell if the NY Fed stays true to this undertaking.

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