EPI, with support from the Groundwork Collaborative, hosted a half-day symposium last month on potential causes of and responses to the next recession. Former Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer delivered the keynote address, in which she discussed the fiscal response to the Great Recession and whether the country is prepared for another downturn.
In a series of essays, the first two of which were released today, participants will further expand on the themes discussed at the conference.
Washington Center for Equitable Growth Executive Director Heather Boushey and Research Assistant Somin Park argue that fighting inequality is key to preparing for the next recession—because high inequality not only fuels economic stagnation and makes recessions more likely, but also makes finding the political will to solve these issues more challenging. Boushey and Park call for higher taxes on wealth to both reduce inequality and fund automatic stabilizers such as expanded unemployment insurance, family income support, and more targeted supplemental nutrition assistance.
Darrick Hamilton, Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, and Christopher Famighetti, Ph.D. candidate in public and urban policy at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School, look at the impact of the Great Recession on black wealth, showing that long standing racial disparities in homeownership have worsened in the post-recession recovery. They find that stricter lending requirements following the Great Recession left blacks with a college degree facing even greater obstacles in the housing market, challenging the conventional wisdom that a college degree is a reliable stepping stone on the path to economic security.
Meanwhile, in research presented at the conference, EPI Research Director Josh Bivens argued the United States is poorly prepared for the next recession, but not for the reasons policymakers and commentators commonly cite. Instead, this lack of preparedness is underpinned by political decisions, not economic constraints. Lastly, in a companion paper, Center for Popular Democracy Chief of Campaigns & Policy Connie Razza outlined the components necessary for advocates and policymakers to develop a blueprint for fighting the next recession and ensuring that the economy emerges as more just and equitable.
Additional essays from the day’s participants will be released in the coming weeks. A video of the event can be watched on epi.org.