The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing structural flaws in our economy that have made the crisis far worse than it should have been. Rampant inequality, disinvestment in public institutions, and a persistent erosion of worker protections have created a precarious economy that has collapsed under the immediate crisis. Congress has acted quickly, appropriating billions of dollars to stem the economic bleeding, but response efforts that fail to address these systemic flaws could actually exacerbate inequality.

One of the clearest examples is the lack of access to bank accounts. Congress authorized $1,200 in relief checks to millions of Americans, yet whole segments of the population will likely wait six to eight weeks for these funds because they lack access to a functioning bank account. With 40 percent of Americans unable to cover a $500 emergency even before the pandemic hit, this delay could mean financial devastation for too many.

Building on research from other experts, “FedAccounts Would Provide Economic Relief—and Inclusion—in the Short and Long Term” examines how Congress can fix these immediate problems, while simultaneously addressing structural flaws in our financial system, by directing the Federal Reserve (the Fed) to offer bank accounts to all US residents.