The Fed’s COVID Response, Analyzed

September 24, 2021

Monetary policy must prioritize equity.

The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.

A More Equitable Monetary Policy

In March and April of 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve began to explore avenues to stabilize financial markets, including establishing bond purchasing and emergency lending programs. 

Those programs had flaws; they were designed in ways that disproportionately harmed Black and brown communities. But as Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal testified on the Hill yesterday, we can also examine and build on what they did well to guide future Fed lending practices.

Speaking before the House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy, Konczal explained that these programs had “ . . . dramatic effects if we look not just at their level of activity, but at their overall impact on interest rates.”

But moving forward, Konczal says, these kinds of programs should be designed to prioritize equity: “There should be preparation for future municipal lending facilities designed with more broad-based eligibility that are credible enough to reduce rates yet can sufficiently reach smaller municipalities and Black and brown communities most at risk from lack of access to funding,” he explains in written testimony.

Read on.


The Fight for Clean Energy Must Be a Fight for Justice

The clean energy standard currently included in the reconciliation bill has the potential to vastly reduce emissions and take steps toward decarbonizing our economy. 

However, if it’s not structured with environmental justice goals in mind, the Clean Energy Performance Program could actually harm frontline communities, as Roosevelt’s Lew Daly and Climate Justice Alliance’s Elizabeth Yeampierre warn in an op-ed for Grist.

“We cannot lose sight of the opportunity the proposed clean energy standard presents for repairing historic racial inequities in the energy system, and ending the decades-long assault of fossil fuel extraction and pollution—not just in the atmosphere, but on the ground and in people’s lungs,” they write.

Read “The Dems’ Clean Energy Plan Can Do Better on Environmental Justice. Here’s How.”


Cancel Student Debt, Prioritize Equity

At this week’s State of Student Debt Virtual Summit, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Ayanna Pressley joined advocates and experts to discuss the political fight for student debt cancellation, and how cancellation can be a tool for racial equity. 

“We know the histories of injustice that have robbed Black and brown families of wealth, but we ignore that these families have less wealth and therefore have taken on greater debts for college when we look only at the incomes of those who have student loans but not at the wealth they don’t have,” explains Frederick Wherry, co-author of a recent Roosevelt issue brief

“Debt cancellation is not a handout. It is a move toward justice and should be talked about in that way.”

Learn more in “Student Debt Cancellation IS Progressive: Correcting Empirical and Conceptual Errors.”


2021 Four Freedoms Awards

On October 13, 20, and 27, join us for the Four Freedoms Awards virtual ceremonies, which will honor those who embody racial justice through their work and legacies. 

This year’s recipients are:

  • Freedom of Speech and Expression: New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • Freedom of Worship: Senator Raphael Warnock
  • Freedom from Want: Economic justice advocate Deepak Bhargava
  • Freedom from Fear: Immigrant rights leaders Sixta Leon Barrita, Rubiela Correa, Sonia Pérez, and Maria Isabel Sierra
  • Freedom Medal: Civil rights activist Fred T. Korematsu (given posthumously, and accepted by his daughter, Dr. Karen Korematsu)

Learn more and register.


What We’re Reading

Why Not Make the Kids Alright?New York Times

Biden Knows Fate of Spending Plan Will Show Extent of His Power–and Define His Legacy [feat. Roosevelt’s Suzanne Kahn]The Guardian

When Public Investments Benefit Black People, White Elites Historically Work Overtime to Stop It Blavity

Jobless Rates from 15 US Cities Show Racial Gap Is Widening – Bloomberg

Reset Labor Markets with a Local Half-Time Job GuaranteeThe Nation