Economics

The Glory—and Risk—of Cities

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The glory of cities is to serve as places of interaction between people and economies. Yet throughout history—from Roman times to the present—this advantage has also entailed exposure to deadly contagions.  read more »

One Nation, Under Lockdown, Divided by Pandemic

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The last thing this polarized Republic needs is, well, more polarization, but that is what we are contracting from the pandemic. Americans, irrespective of region, broadly want the same things, such as safety, a return to normalcy, and an end to dependence on China for medical supplies, but they differ in the depth of their experiences with the pandemic.  read more »

Deindustrialization as a Template for COVID-19

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As we wrote in Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown, Youngstown’s story is America’s story, and that city offers a useful case study for anyone trying to imagine American life after the pandemic. No doubt, coronavirus is a natural disaster that is more contagious, widespread, and deadly than the economic disaster of deindustrialization.  read more »

Rethinking the Social Safety Net

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The COVID-19 epidemic wreaked havoc on the majority of American households. The USC Dornsife poll reported on April 17th that 15% of previously employed people in the country have lost their jobs because of the virus. That translates into close to 26 million newly unemployed. While many of those jobs will come back once we get through this, I do not think all of them will. Future social distancing rules will, for instance, limit the number of patrons a restaurant or a bar can serve. Fewer customers means fewer employees to serve them.  read more »

The Pandemic Road to Serfdom

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Even before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, America, like most higher-income countries, was already heading toward a neo-feudal future: massive inequality, ever-greater concentrations of power, and increasingly widespread embrace of a uniform (albeit secular) religion. The pandemic, all too reminiscent of the great plagues of the Middle Ages, seems destined to accelerate this process.  read more »

Letter from Los Angeles: The Death of Small Business is a Tragedy for Jewish Community and Democracy

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“Small-scale commercial production is, every moment of every day, giving birth spontaneously to capitalism and the bourgeoisie…wherever there is small business and freedom of trade, capitalism appears.”— V.I. Lenin  read more »

Triumph of the Woke Oligarchs

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Like the rest of the country, although far less than New York, California is suffering through the Covid-19 crisis. But in California, the pandemic seems likely to give the state’s political and corporate elites a new license to increase their dominion while continuing to keep the middle and working classes down.  read more »

California's Post-Corona Challenges

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California has, at least to date, escaped the worst effects of Covid-19.  read more »

Coronavirus and the Future of Work

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The long-term effects of the coronavirus outbreak on our society and business landscape are yet to be determined. But one thing we know is that a big swath of American businesses is conducting a large-scale experiment with remote work (aka work from home). Many of them have also made large investments in infrastructure to support it; one company bought 20,000 laptops for their employees, for example. The coronavirus shutdown will create new capabilities for remote work within firms large and small, and produce a treasure trove of findings about what works well and what doesn’t.  read more »

Viral Politics

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Long after the pandemic has receded, its long-term impact on our society and political life will continue. Just as plagues past have reshaped the trajectory of cities and civilizations, sometimes with fearsome morbidity, COVID-19 is already having a profoundly disruptive impact on our political future.  read more »