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Category Archives: Basic Income Guarantee

How a Basic Income And Jobs Guarantee Can Save The Economy From Coronavirus – The National Interest

Posted: March 26, 2020 at 6:08 am

COVID-19 is both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. The measures taken to deal with the public health crisis threaten our economic well-being.

There is near unanimity among economists that the response to the coronavirus-induced recession must be aggressive. As stated by the subtitle of a new e-book on how to respond to the COVID-19 recession: Act Fast and Do Whatever It Takes.

Immediate implementation of a universal basic income combined with a job guarantee would help address our current economic problems and the public health crisis. The policy combination could also help us deal with climate change, which is both an ecological and economic crisis.

Current government response

For now, the government of Canada has chosen to rely on expanding existing programs such as Employment Insurance and the Canada Child Benefit. But these programs have pre-existing shortcomings, asnoted by Sheila Block, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Not all workers in the so-called gig economy qualify for EI. And many of these workers have lost all of the gigs that kept them financially afloat.

A universal basic income could provide financially precarious people with the money they need. And it would keep money flowing through the financial system.

Lessons from 2008 recession

The 2008 global financial crisis showed what happens when the money stops flowing. Deeply interconnected financial institutions seize up and threaten to collapse.

It tookmassive interventionby the United States Federal Reserve to prevent a cascade of bank failures. The Feds actions saved the financial institutions that created the problem but did nothing for the people losing houses and jobs. A basic income plan can be part of rectifying that mistake.

Calls for a universal basic income are coming from diverse quarters. Ken Boessenkool, a Conservative activist,demands itin bothMacleansandthe Globe and Mail, although he stipulated its a bad idea in normal times.

Petitionsdemanding a basic incomeare circulating on social media.

Pro-free market?

The call by some conservatives for a basic income isnt actually surprising.

Some advocates argue that its pro-free market policy because it prioritizes individual choice. Thats why prominent free marketeer Milton Friedmanadvocated a negative income tax, which is a form of universal income.

Somebasic income critics argue, however, that it would justify eliminating public institutions in favour of corporations. For example, opponents of government spending could target publicly funded education as no longer necessary because individuals can use their basic income to choose among private options.

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Corteztweeted her concernthat a non-emergency basic income could harm vulnerable populations by eliminating other important government programs. Ocasio-Cortez added her advocacy for job guarantees, which she promotes aspart of a Green New Deal.

A job guarantee is not a new idea. A right to employment was part of U.S. President Franklin D. Rooseveltseconomic bill of rights. The Democratic Party included full employment in its1980 presidential platform.

Full employment doesnt fuel inflation

The pursuit of full employment was pushed out of the political mainstream and into the economic margins by economists who argued that if unemployment was pushed too low it would cause inflation to rise out of control.

In the decade since the global financial crisis, the unemployment rate in both Canada and the U.S. has steadily decreased. Until the current COVID-19-induced recession, unemployment was at a historical low. And yet, forecasted runaway inflation did not occur.

For decades before the financial crisis, the government did not intervene to increase employment. Relying on the advice of economists, they unnecessarily condemned millions of people to the misery of unemployment.n

With low unemployment and stable inflation, advocates of full employment have spurred public interest in a job guarantee. Levy Institute researcher Pavlina Tcherneva is a particularlyprominent proponent. Its also a key component of theModern Monetary Theorythats earned a lot of attention in debates about funding a Green New Deal.

Flattening the job loss curve

The precautions taken to flatten the curve of COVID-19 have pushed millions of people out of work. Yet there is an untold number of tasks that need to be accomplished to keep society functioning.

What if we hired artists to make posters extolling the virtues of hand-washing? Or photographers to produce glamour shots of our heroic grocers? What if we hiredlaid-off flight attendantsto help manage crowds at COVID-19 testing centres? Or hiredlaid-off autoworkersto deliver groceries to the quarantined?

A universal basic income ensures that no one feels forced into work. But most people want to contribute to society in a useful way. A job guarantee ensures that everyone who wants a job has one.

Climate action

Dealing with the COVID-19 recession requires us to create jobs that the profit-driven private sector will not. The same is true of the climate crisis.

Much of what needs to be done to transition from our current economy to a sustainable economy will not be profitable. That means the private sector will not take it on of its own accord. Government will need to fund the transition and the incredible number of jobs needed to accomplish the task.

David Andolfatto, a vice-president at the U.S. Federal Reserve, described the economic effects of COVID-19 responses as a planned recession.

Decision-makers knew actions taken to deal with COVID-19 would produce a recession. Given the planning to cause the recession, it is reasonable to use planning to mitigate its harms. That mitigation will allow us to begin the economic transformation well also need to address the climate crisis.

[Our newsletter explains whats going on with the coronavirus pandemic. Subscribe now.]

D.T. Cochrane, Economic Researcher, York University, Canada

This article is republished fromThe Conversationunder a Creative Commons license. Read theoriginal article.

Image: Reuters.

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Draghi: we face a war against coronavirus and must mobilise accordingly | Free to read – Financial Times

Posted: at 6:08 am

This article is part ofa series in which leading commentators and policymakers give their views on alleviating the devastating global slowdown

The writer is a former president of the European Central Bank

The coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy of potentially biblical proportions. Many today are living in fear of their lives or mourning their loved ones. The actions being taken by governments to prevent our health systems from being overwhelmed are brave and necessary. They must be supported.

But those actions also come with a huge and unavoidable economic cost. While many face a loss of life, a great many more face a loss of livelihood. Day by day, the economic news is worsening.Companies face a loss of income across the whole economy. A great many are already downsizing and laying off workers. A deep recession is inevitable.

The challenge we face is how to act with sufficient strength and speed to prevent the recession from morphing into a prolonged depression, made deeper by aplethora of defaults leaving irreversible damage. It is already clear that the answer must involve a significant increase in public debt. The loss of income incurred by the private sector and any debt raised to fill the gap must eventually be absorbed, wholly or in part, on to government balance sheets. Much higher public debt levels will become a permanent feature of our economies and will be accompanied by private debt cancellation.

It is the proper role of the state to deploy its balance sheet to protect citizens and the economy against shocks that the private sector is not responsible for and cannot absorb. States have always done so in the face of national emergencies. Wars the most relevant precedent were financed by increases in public debt. During the first world war, in Italy and Germany between 6 and 15 per cent of war spending in real terms was financed from taxes. In Austria-Hungary, Russia and France, none of thecontinuing costs of the war were paid out of taxes. Everywhere, the tax base was eroded by war damage and conscription. Today, it is by the pandemics human distress and the shutdown.

The key question is not whether but how the state should put its balance sheet to good use. The priority must not only be providing basic income for those who lose their jobs. We must protect people from losing their jobs in the first place. If we do not, we will emerge from this crisis with permanently lower employment and capacity, as families andcompanies struggle to repair their balance sheets and rebuild net assets.

Employment and unemployment subsidies and the postponement of taxes are important steps that have already been introduced by many governments. But protecting employment and productive capacity at a time of dramatic income loss requires immediate liquidity support. This is essential for allbusinesses to cover their operating expenses during the crisis, be they large corporations or even more so small and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed entrepreneurs. Several governments have already introduced welcome measures to channel liquidity to struggling businesses. But a more comprehensive approach is needed.

While different European countries havevarying financial and industrial structures, the only effective way to reach immediately into every crack of the economy is to fully mobilise their entire financial systems: bond markets, mostly for large corporates, banking systems and in some countries even the postal system for everybody else. And it has to be done immediately, avoiding bureaucratic delays. Banks in particular extend across the entire economy and can create money instantly by allowing overdrafts or opening credit facilities.

Banks must rapidly lend funds at zero cost tocompanies prepared to save jobs. Since in this way they are becoming a vehicle for public policy, the capital they need to perform this task must be provided by the government in the form of state guarantees on all additional overdrafts or loans. Neither regulation nor collateral rules should stand in the way of creating all the space needed in bank balance sheets for this purpose. Furthermore, the cost of these guarantees should not be based on the credit risk of thecompany that receives them, but should be zero regardless of the cost of funding of the government that issues them.

Companies, however, will not draw on liquidity support simply because credit is cheap. In some cases, for examplebusinesses with an order backlog, their losses may be recoverable and then they will repay debt. In other sectors, this will probably not be the case.

Suchcompanies may still be able to absorb this crisis for a short period of time and raise debt to keep their staff in work. But their accumulated losses risk impairing their ability to invest afterwards. And, were the virus outbreak and associated lockdowns to last, they could realistically remain in business only if the debt raised to keep people employed during that time were eventually cancelled.

Either governments compensate borrowers for their expenses, or those borrowers will fail and the guarantee will be made good by the government. If moral hazard can be contained, the former is better for the economy. The second route is likely to be less costly for the budget. Both cases will lead to governments absorbing a large share of the income loss caused by the shutdown, if jobs and capacity are to be protected.

Public debt levels will have increased. But the alternative a permanent destruction of productive capacity and therefore of the fiscal base would be much more damaging to the economy and eventually to government credit. We must also remember that given the present andprobable future levels of interest rates, such an increase in government debt will not add to its servicing costs.

In some respects, Europe is well equipped to deal with this extraordinary shock. It has a granular financial structure able to channel funds to every part of the economy that needs it. It has a strong public sector able to co-ordinate a rapid policy response. Speed is absolutely essential for effectiveness.

Faced with unforeseen circumstances, a change of mindset is as necessary in thiscrisis as it would be in times of war. The shock we are facing is not cyclical. The loss of income is not the fault of any of those who suffer from it. The cost of hesitation may be irreversible. The memory of the sufferings of Europeans in the 1920s is enough of a cautionary tale.

The speed of the deterioration of private balance sheets caused by an economic shutdown that is both inevitable and desirable must be met by equal speed in deploying government balance sheets, mobilising banks and, as Europeans, supporting each other in the pursuit of what is evidently a common cause.

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Lockdown to fight coronavirus is going to hit most Indian workers very hard – Livemint

Posted: at 6:08 am

With at least 250 million Indians going into lockdown from Monday morning, one question looms large - what will precariously placed workers do?

The share of those in India with precarious jobs is far higher than is commonly believed to be the case. According to the most recent labour statistics, 25 percent of rural households and 12 percent of urban households rely on casual labour as their main source of income. Casual labour was defined as a person who was engaged not in a fixed, but in a casual manner in another person's enterprise and, in return, was paid daily or periodically.

But this doesnt mean that other jobs are stable. Over 40% of those in urban areas are now in regular" or salaried jobs but these do not necessarily come with job security. Over 70 per cent of salaried employees in the non-agricultural sector had no written contracts, and over half were not eligible for paid leave. The share of workers not eligible for paid leave has grown steadily over the last 15 years, from a minority at 46% in 2004-05 to being the norm now. Nearly half of salaried workers in non-agricultural jobs are not entitled to any social security benefits including health care.

Self-employed work too is not the sort of entrepreneurial businesses that the term tends to conjure. Most of the self-employed in urban areas are solo workers who work 55-56 hours a week and make around 14,000 per month

Would the impact of the janata curfew" on March 22 have been blunted by the fact that it was a Sunday? For the average Indian worker, Sunday is just another day. Most workers across different forms of employment work nearly seven days a week on average.

Nor is there much in the bank to rely on as a buffer. The median rural family had under 4 lakh in total assets, while the median urban family had under 6 lakh in total assets, including all their household possessions.

Shocks can easily push vulnerable people into poverty, and in the absence of education, physical and social capital, people from marginalised communities including Dalits and Adivasis, are particularly in danger of falling into poverty.

What then can the government do to mitigate the impact of lost wages for a workforce that largely counts on its day-to-day earnings? The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommends extending social protection and supporting employment retention to protect against job losses and worker hardship during the pandemic.

But for those who do lose wages, the most widely suggested solution currently is an income transfer, something that is being discussed even in developed countries hard hit by COVID-19-imposed lockdowns. The most recent National Sample Survey on consumption expenditure (not released by the government) found that the average monthly per capita expenditure in urban areas was a little under 4,000. In the 2016-2017 Economic Survey, then Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian authored a chapter outlining what a Universal Basic Income could look like. At 12,000 per month, it would wipe out poverty (based on older 2011-12) estimates, he suggested.

Yet, access to banking remains well short of universal, despite the Modi-era expansion. According to the World Banks Global Findex Database 2017 , while 80% of adults had a bank account in 2017, just 43% of them had made a withdrawal in the past year.

In-kind transfers would be another way to go, but reaching the poorest remains challenging. The Economic Survey noted that [a]n estimate of the exclusion error from 2011-12 suggests that

40 percent of the bottom 40 percent of the population are excluded from the [Public Distribution System]. The corresponding figure for 2011-12 for [the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme] was 65 percent". States that targeted less and universalised more had lower leakages and better success at reaching the poor.

India does not have to look far for a combination of targeted and universal, cash and kind assistance. Kerala and Uttar Pradesh have announced one months free rations, permission for advance drawing of welfare pensions and 1,000 in cash for those who are poor but do not receive pensions.

As a fifth of the country wakes up to life under lockdown, all states will need to draw up similar plans.

Rukmini S. is a Chennai-based journalist.

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Universal basic income: what is it, how does it work and could it help fight the coronavirus crisis? – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: March 24, 2020 at 6:17 am

Governments around the world are preparing to send direct cash payments to all citizens to help them cope with the financial pressures of coronavirus. This strategy is known as universal basic income, but what exactly is it and can it help Britain fight the effects of the coronavirus outbreak?

Universal basic incomeis when governments opt to support the economy from the bottom up by giving money regularly to all citizens, without means testing, to spend how they please. This is unusual as normally governments prefer to cuttaxes, subsidise certain goods and services, or provide debt relief to support people during tough economic times.

Everyone would be paid a cash amount every month from the government regardless of their financial circumstances. Professor Guy Standing, of SOAS University in London, said about 200 a month would be enough to have a significant impact on many peoples lives.

Others have called for a temporary policy, where each British citizen would get 1,000 a month while we fight the economic effects of coronavirus.

One-off payments could be an alternative option.Other countries have already started handing out money in this way.Italy is giving around 500 (470) to each self-employed person andAustralia making a one-off payment of375 to all lower-income workers

Daniel Susskind, of the University of Oxford, said implementing a temporary universal basic income in Britain would be the best way of supporting small businesses, such as pubs and restaurants, that would not benefit from a top-down financial stability package from the Government or Bank of England.

He estimated that handing out 1,000 to every citizen each month would cost the Government about 66bn a month. He added that the implementation would be cheap and quick as there would be none of the bureaucracy that comes with means testing.

Funding people directly could be a more effective wayof helping them keep their livelihoodsintact than making them wait for government support of business to trickle down into the real economy.

Proponents argue that universal basic income is the only way to guarantee a basic standard of living for all citizens and protect them from sudden economic shocks.They say it would also cut costs for government departments as they would no longer need to monitor benefits fraud and carry out time-consuming means testing, which would release more money to be spent directly on citizens.

One scheme could also replace the current complex arrangement of government benefits and tax rebates.

Critics say the money is wasted on the rich as they would hardly notice the extra money so it could be better spent supporting disadvantaged parts of society or public services, such as the National Health Service.

Some argue that guaranteeing a basic standard of living would stifle innovation and disincentivise work, which would in turn affect the economy and reduce government tax income, making the scheme unworkable in the long run.

The International Labour Office, part of the United Nations, estimated average costs of a full universal basic income programme to be 20pc to 30pc of GDP a year. It concluded in 2018 that the money would be better spent on social programmes, supporting public services and investing in infrastructure.

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It’s time to move mountains to protect people we need universal basic income – The Guardian

Posted: at 6:17 am

For many in Britain, quite how radically our lives will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is yet to fully sink in. The government has already moved to reassure businesses with emergency measures but a growing number of workers are waiting for comparable support. The policies already announced might help workers indirectly, for example if businesses take out government-backed loans to keep their staff on the payroll, or if landlords take advantage of the moratorium on mortgage payments to suspend demands for rent. But both of these would amount to trickle-down support at the whims of bosses and property-owners rather than a condition of state support.

Already the government appears aware of the shortcomings of its initial economic response, hinting that direct support for renters and workers is on the way. So it seems as relevant as ever to argue that now is not the time for tinkering around the edges, but for big ideas. The chancellor ditched Tory economic orthodoxy to help business through this crisis, so he must be prepared to do the same for workers and the self-employed.

That means introducing an employment protection payment of at least 75% of previous earnings, up to a limit. This should be available for all workers whose employers have had to cease or reduce their business activity; for the self-employed, calculated on average earnings; and for those unable to work due to caring responsibilities. Ireland and Denmark have announced similar schemes already. This would ensure we maintain peoples incomes so they can get through the outbreak and protect their jobs for when we ultimately emerge on the other side.

While the prime minister has suggested the government will legislate to end no fault evictions, this does nothing for those who have lost their jobs, or are self-isolating, and are unable to pay the rent. The government must extend the suspension of mortgage payments to rent payments for those who have lost their jobs or are unable to work. As has been announced in France, there must also be a moratorium on utility bills to ensure people unable to pay arent cut off from fuel or communication. Workers should also be given the right to work from home where possible, particularly those who are immuno-compromised who shouldnt be penalised with a subsequent increase in household bills.

All this help is necessary to ensure we protect our health and financial security, and time is of the essence, as the chancellor himself noted on Tuesday when he said: Whatever package or scheme we come up with that we believe will provide the appropriate support, it is important that we can operationalise that at speed. Given the current five-week delay in universal credit payments, and the very low levels of statutory sick pay that are nowhere near the living wage, let me float an obvious and potentially streamlined policy suggestion: universal basic income for all.

A fixed payment made to all, providing everyone with a basic minimum income of at least the real living wage, for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, would also assist employers, who would then top up salaries to the level a worker currently earns. It would provide a basic protection to all, and guarantee much needed consumer spending power to help keep people and businesses afloat through the crisis and until we recover.

This country is facing an unprecedented shock: its time to move mountains. We must actually do whatever it takes to keep people safe and financially supported. People deserve nothing less than the same level of reassurance that the government has already afforded to business.

Rebecca Long-Bailey is the Labour MP for Salford and Eccles and a candidate for the Labour party leadership

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Italy: Urgent petition in time of Corona Virus: Expanding the Citizen’s Income Scheme! If Not Now, When? – Basic Income News

Posted: at 6:17 am

The Basic Income Network (BIN) Italia has published a petition pleading for the Italian governement and Parliament to immediately install an emergency basic income. There, it can be read:

To the Italian government and Parliament

EXPANDING THE CITIZENS INCOME SCHEME! IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

Right at a time when it is recognised that individuals must act as active and responsible members of their communities, it is necessary to prove we all truly adhere to the idea of a society that fulfils its members real needs. In short, it is time to guarantee the right to existence for all human beings.

Now that we are all facing sudden and unexpected changes, appropriate political and social structures are needed in order to both respond to the current (corona virus) emergency and introduce an universal social protection measure. It is time to simplify the social protection schemes so as to include the whole population, thus guaranteeing each individual access to these protections regardless of whether they are employed or not.

In 2019, Italy introduced a citizens income scheme which, if properly reformed in terms of universal access and less binding criteria, can be an important tool to support people and ensure them the right to access the resources they need to survive.

Therefore, we believe it is urgently necessary to:

Social Welfare is not a cost, but an investment!

The petition has been undersigned and supported by dozens of organizations operating in the Italian territory.

Sandro Gobetti has written 30 articles.

Coordinator BIN Italy and social research

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Coronavirus: Iain Duncan Smith says dont bring in universal basic income during pandemic as it would be disincentive to work – The Independent

Posted: at 6:17 am

Iain Duncan Smith has rejected suggestions that workers should be given a universal basic income during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that it would be a "disincentive to work".

The former work and pensions secretary said the proposal, floated by Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey on Wednesday, was also "unaffordable".

Under the proposed policy, people would receive a universal flat payment to help cover their living costs during the pandemic. Ms Long Bailey's proposal is for the rate to be set at the living wage.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

But Sir Iain, said his think-tank the Centre for Social Justice had "ran the numbers" and found that the cost would amount to an "astronomic amount of money" - with a basic payment costing the Treasury around 260 billion a year.

He suggested that the delayed Universal Credit scheme, his main legacy at the DWP, would be a better alternative and "was designed with just such critical moments in mind".

"One proposal being pushed around at the moment is the redundant idea of a Universal Basic Income," Sir Iainwrote in an article for the Telegraph newspaper.

"Let me say now, its unaffordable, impractical, produces massive disincentives for people to work and most importantly wont make any difference to poverty in this country.

"And even if that werent enough, this would not be the moment for such a massive upheaval of our welfare system."

Sir Iain said the taper rate of his own Universal Credit system should instead be lowered to pay more money to people who lose hours due to the pandemic and "put a floor underneath employees as government steps in and takes the strain".

Writing in The Guardian on Wednesday, the Shadow Business Secretary Ms Long-Bailey called for "a fixed payment made to all, providing everyone with a basic minimum income of at least the real living wage, for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic".

The usually busy Royal Mile in Edinburgh is empty as people stay away from public areas amid the coronavirus outbreak on 13 March

Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

Ho bart's Amusement Arcade in Westward Ho!, Devon is offering toilet roll and soap as prizes in grabber machines

Rob Braddick/SWNS

An empty platform at Farringdon Station in London the morning after the Prime Minister said that Covid-19 "is the worst public health crisis for a generation"

PA

Shopkeepers Asiyah Javed and husband Jawad from Day Today Express, in Stenhousemuir, Falkirk are giving away facemasks, antibacterial hand wash and cleaning wipes to the elderly in a bid to stop the spread of Coronavirus

Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

A usually busy street in Cambridge is empty as people stay away from public areas amid the coronavirus outbreak on 2 March

James Linsell-Clark/SWNS

A hand sanitiser dispenser is seen inside the stadium during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on 8 March

Getty

Maaya Indian Kitchen in Milton Keynes is offerig customers a free roll of toilet paper with every takeaway order

SWNS

Oliver Cooper[L], was sent home from school for selling spurts of handsanitiser to fellow pupils at 50p a time. He poses with mum Jenny Tompkins by their home in Leeds

Ashley Pemberton/SWNS

Empty toilet paper shelves at a supermarket in London on 12 March

EPA

A member of the public is swabbed at a drive through Coronavirus testing site set up in a car park in Wolverhampton

Getty

A passenger wears a protective face mask as she travels on a bus in the City of London

AFP/Getty

A Southampton fan wears a face mask before the match against Newcastle United on 7 March

Reuters

A loudspeaker placed in grounds of St Mary's Catholic Church in Broughattin, Dundalk, County Louth ahead of funeral mass later this morning. The loudspeaker has been placed in the grounds after the Catholic Archdiocese said that funerals and weddings should not exceed 100 attendees within the church building

PA

A hand sanitising station set up outside Cheltenham Racecourse during day four of the Cheltenham Festival on 13 March

PA

People wearing protective face masks walk across London Bridge on 11 March

AFP/Getty

The usually busy Royal Mile in Edinburgh is empty as people stay away from public areas amid the coronavirus outbreak on 13 March

Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

Ho bart's Amusement Arcade in Westward Ho!, Devon is offering toilet roll and soap as prizes in grabber machines

Rob Braddick/SWNS

An empty platform at Farringdon Station in London the morning after the Prime Minister said that Covid-19 "is the worst public health crisis for a generation"

PA

Shopkeepers Asiyah Javed and husband Jawad from Day Today Express, in Stenhousemuir, Falkirk are giving away facemasks, antibacterial hand wash and cleaning wipes to the elderly in a bid to stop the spread of Coronavirus

Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

A usually busy street in Cambridge is empty as people stay away from public areas amid the coronavirus outbreak on 2 March

James Linsell-Clark/SWNS

A hand sanitiser dispenser is seen inside the stadium during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on 8 March

Getty

Maaya Indian Kitchen in Milton Keynes is offerig customers a free roll of toilet paper with every takeaway order

SWNS

Oliver Cooper[L], was sent home from school for selling spurts of handsanitiser to fellow pupils at 50p a time. He poses with mum Jenny Tompkins by their home in Leeds

Ashley Pemberton/SWNS

Empty toilet paper shelves at a supermarket in London on 12 March

EPA

A member of the public is swabbed at a drive through Coronavirus testing site set up in a car park in Wolverhampton

Getty

A passenger wears a protective face mask as she travels on a bus in the City of London

AFP/Getty

A Southampton fan wears a face mask before the match against Newcastle United on 7 March

Reuters

A loudspeaker placed in grounds of St Mary's Catholic Church in Broughattin, Dundalk, County Louth ahead of funeral mass later this morning. The loudspeaker has been placed in the grounds after the Catholic Archdiocese said that funerals and weddings should not exceed 100 attendees within the church building

PA

A hand sanitising station set up outside Cheltenham Racecourse during day four of the Cheltenham Festival on 13 March

PA

People wearing protective face masks walk across London Bridge on 11 March

AFP/Getty

She said the system would "assist employers, who would then top up salaries to the level a worker currently earns" and "would provide a basic protection to all, and guarantee much needed consumer spending power to help keep people and businesses afloat through the crisis and until we recover".

She added: "This country is facing an unprecedented shock: its time to move mountains. We must actually do whatever it takes to keep people safe and financially supported. People deserve nothing less than the same level of reassurance that the government has already afforded to business."

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Solidarity Economicsfor the Coronavirus Crisis and Beyond – The American Prospect

Posted: at 6:17 am

While theres widespread agreement that we need an immediate, massive stimulus and targeted economic supports to deal with the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus, theyre clearly not enough. We also urgently need to think long-termboth about the all-too-predictable things that got us into this crisis, and how we can refashion our economy and society as we eventually emerge.

Guiding our own thinking is a basic public-health principle that should have long been our standard for all economic and social policy: We protect ourselves when we protect others. We are being asked right now to limit contact, to work remotely, and to do this mostly to shield those who are most vulnerable. We are being asked to dig deep into government coffers and bear the future burden of debt so that we can bring quick relief for those often left at the margins. And we are asking businesses to step up (or forcing them to step up) to their responsibilities and adjust schedules, offer paid sick leave, and understand family demands.

But why is this good for a crisis and not for daily life? While we should stand together by staying physically apart in this time of pandemic, we need to give up the sort of social distance that has allowed so many to ignore homelessness, immigration uncertainty, and rural poverty. We need to come out of this troubling moment with a deeper commitment to each other. We need to realize that an ethos of mutual caring and support not only leads to better health outcomes, but also helps to generate a more vibrant and resilient society.

We need a new solidarity economics.

Our lack of social solidarity has been a key contributor to our vulnerability to the coronavirus outbreak.

Unprecedented levels of inequality have left large numbers of Americans unprepared for an emergency, with nearly half of the U.S. population unable to handle just a $400 emergency expense. That inequality has also distorted our health care system, where we can provide world-class end-of-life care to the wealthy, but have underinvested in the basic infrastructure of our public-health system, leaving us dangerously unprepared for massive testing and waves of hospitalization.

Partly driving that inequality and partly resulting from it has been a low level of inclusion. Long before we were told to practice physical distance, we were already practicing an acute form of social distance: Increasingly, we have been sorted by income, race, and politics. It has become easy for some groups to ignore homelessness or incarceration or economic despair, seeing those as issues facing others. And that hurts all of usfor example, research shows that when there is a rise in the racial generation gap (the difference between the racial composition of the old and the young), public investment in education falls. That damages the economy as a whole.

Exacerbating the gaps between groups has been a problem with information. The lack of accountability of our social media systems, driven by the drive for super profits in winner-take-all markets, has contributed to the proliferation of misinformation and conflicting advice. Fake news crosses the ideological spectrumno, Donald Trump does not actually own stock in a company the Centers for Disease Control uses for COVID-19 tests, nor did U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hold back coronavirus funding to run negative ads about Republicans, both popularly shared stories. But profiteering from political and social polarizationthe basic business model of Fox Newshas been allowed to take deep root.

Not entirely new but certainly pushed along by the factors above has been a miserly commitment to social insurance. We have looked the other way as businesses expanded gig jobs with few if any benefits. We have settled for a limited social safety net that seems more aimed at saving dollars than saving lives. As a result, we have 28 million people without health insurance, and 44 million more with inadequate health insurance that imposes high deductibles and co-pays, preventing people from getting the treatment they need. With no mandated policies for paid sick leave, millions of people continue to have to work while ill, disproportionately including many workers in our restaurants and grocery stores, which contributes to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

And while it may seem odd to say about an economy that has spawned Google, Facebook, and Amazon, we have a serious problem with innovation. We spend billions on speeding up the delivery of consumer goods but have failed to mount the infrastructure needed to solve the problem of homelessness. We are developing medicine to treat diseases of the wealthy, but neglect research on infectious diseases that kill millions in poor countries of the global South. We are forging ahead with the development of high-end electric vehicles even as we continue to allow environmental hazards to wreak havoc on the health of marginalized communities.

In short, just as Hurricane Katrina revealed the underlying inequities and vulnerabilities baked into the economic, social, and physical landscape of New Orleans, the COVID-19 crisis is shining a light on deeply rooted problems in America. Moving forward will require not just emergency actions but attention to and alignment with efforts to fundamentally restructure how we build and sustain our economy.

We offered the starting frame for solidarity economics in our 2018 publication From Resistance to Renewal: A 12-Step Program for Innovation and Inclusion in the California Economy. There we pointed to a range of policy solutions that seem almost prescient today: Among them were universal basic income funded by a technology dividend, increased investment in basic science, expansion and improvement of the caring economy, full immigrant integration to bring people out of the shadows, rapid de-incarceration and re-entry of the formerly incarcerated, universal health insurance and portable benefits, social-housing programs to ensure long-term affordability, industry-wide wage boards to coordinate labor and business, and realigned tax systems that were both more progressive and more stable.

Just as important as the policy package were our philosophical starting points. We had three central pillars to our thinking.

The first was that the standard economic models of human behavior were outdated. The general assumption by most economists has been that people act purely (or at least largely) out of self-interest. For conservatives, the good news is that the market will coordinate all that selfishness to a blissful outcome, and so limited government is the best recipe. (Hows that working for you today?) On the left, there has been a corresponding take, in reaction to the dominance of laissez-faire. It has featured a strong belief that the state must act to constrain the worst instances of bad behavior and corral the economy into serving the common good.

But as has become evident in this and other crises, people also act out of impulses of solidarity with one another. The challenge is that we have structured our economic and political systems to either reward or tame self-interest rather than to promote our connection with one another. We will obviously need enforcement for people to stay home, but the differences in containment by countries in this crisisChina and South Korea versus Italy and the U.S.have resulted not just from such factors as the strength of government and the social safety net, but also from the balance that different societies strike between communitarian and individualistic values.

The second pillar of our thinking actually flows from the first: The old canard that inequality is perhaps politically unpopular but economically necessary is just thata canard. In fact, a wide range of research studiesincluding from such unexpected sources such as the Cleveland Federal Reserve and the International Monetary Fundhave shown that high levels of income disparities, racial segregation, and social fragmentation actually tend to limit the sustainability of growth in income and jobs. It turns out that mutuality matters.

We have, of course, been practicing just the opposite. Weve had a dog-eat-dog economic system in which short-term thinking dominates and venture capital is too often vulture capital. When societies and regions invest in all their members, by contrast, basic productivity rises. When there are trusting relations between economic and social actors, consensus on how to grow the economy increases. When businesses treat their employees, customers, and suppliers with dignity and respect, profits are stable and consistent. And as we now know from the principle of public health, when we protect the most vulnerable, we protect everyone.

The third pillar of our thinking was that the purpose of our economy is not just to generate GDP. Prosperity mattersbut so do security and community. Indeed, that was the secret of getting out of the Great Depression: Keynesian demand management to drive growth; the extension of a sense and the reality of security through, well, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and, eventually, the adoption of employer-based benefits like health insurance; and the reconnection of disparate parts of the nation through investments like the Tennessee Valley Authority.

We need that sort of triadprosperity, security, and communityin what will amount to this generations version of economic catastrophe and New Deal response. That response needs to be altered to fit our times. Growth can no longer come at the cost of the environment. The safety netas is evident from this crisisneeds to be universal and not employer-based, especially given the changing nature of work. And while the New Deal excluded African Americans and other people of color from a range of protections, partly to secure the support of Southern Democrats, this time we must ensure that community means all of us.

We are facing an immediate need to think long-term. In the same way that we need to flatten the contagion curve by spreading out the impact of the coronavirus, we also need to flatten the economic curve, linking short-term interventions with longer-term programs that provide security for families and community, strengthen connections between people and places, and grow employment and the economy.

To do this, policy needs to be brought together under another three-part frame: Lift the bottom, grow the middle, and tame the top.

For lifting the bottom, we need to provide immediate assistance to the most vulnerable among us, while using those interventions to build support for longer-term solutions. In the field of health, for example, we need now to provide a guarantee that everyone, regardless of income, availability of insurance, or immigration status, will be fully covered for the costs of testing and treatment for COVID-19, while using this to build the case for universal health insurance. We need targeted interventions for those most vulnerablepeople with disabilities, seniors, those with chronic illness, the poor, the homeless, and those incarceratedto build back the social safety net ravaged by Democrats and Republicans alike. Moreover, we should devise programs that include the undocumented and stress the public-health risks that have resulted from a broken immigration system that forces so many families away from needed services and into the shadows.

We should also now be providing paid sick days for everyone, including home health care providers, food-chain workers, and delivery drivers, who are providing essential services in our crisis, and are also highly vulnerable to being infected and further spreading the virus. But we should just as urgently stress that paid sick days and paid family leave be made permanent. Cash payments now are critical for people in need, as leaders across the political spectrum apparently realize. But rather than one- or two-time payments, we can and should guarantee a minimum basic income to all in need through the end of the economic crisis. That, in turn, can help us better understand the long-term benefits of some form of universal-income guarantee. Housing for the homeless, eviction moratoriums, and rent freezes are also needed now and can become the basis longer-term for much-needed rent stabilization and social-housing policies.

We need to think, too, about all parts of the working classfor example, those who work in what we call the caring economy. The coronavirus has made clear that those caregivers taking care of the most vulnerable are some of the most vulnerable themselves. What if we recognized and invested in them, providing training and better access to telemedical care and advice, and raising professional standards and wages. Wed improve our health care provision, reduce our vulnerability to future disease outbreaks (including simply the seasonal flu), and grow middle-wage jobs.

Or what if we devoted serious attention to the potentials of remote education and lifelong learning? The coronavirus crisis has made clear how not to develop remote-education opportunities, throwing teachers and professors immediately into having to run classes online with few resources, training, or curriculum support. But if done properly, remote education can play a critical role in making lifelong learning accessible to working people. As a percentage of GDP, we spend the lowest on adult workforce education out of all but two OECD countriesMexico and Chile. Most European countries spend two to five times as much as we do; Denmark spends nearly ten times as much. Investing resources here could both help our immediate education crisis and expand our middle class long-term.

Finally, we also need to tame the top. In the short term, that means ensuring that any public benefits to major corporations are conditioned on their maintaining employment levels; these should be in the form of loans, not grants, and should eliminate buybacks as an option for any company receiving assistance. A repeat of the financial crisis bailout is neither viable not desirable. Any stimulus legislation needs to prioritize employees, not profitsnot just now but in the long run.

Taming the top also means ensuring that the American public actually benefits from our nearly $700 million collective investment in coronavirus research that constitutes the basic science for developing a vaccineand that the results of such research be guided by policies of global solidarity and public health, rather than narrow nationalism and profiteering, which are already beginning to raise their ugly heads. In the longer term, it means restoring reasonable tax rates for our top-income earners, which were at 70 percent at the height of American prosperity in the 1950s and have now dropped so low that the top 400 income earners pay a lower tax rate than anyone else.

Ultimately, what a solidarity economics framework reminds us is that caring for others is not just the morally right thing to do. It both reflects our better angels and provides better outcomes for society at large. Whats true in a crisis is also true in the long haul: A deep commitment to mutuality and the common good is the right thing to do for both public and economic health.

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Solidarity Economicsfor the Coronavirus Crisis and Beyond - The American Prospect

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Trump’s right: Congress should give Americans $1,000 right now to fight the coronavirus recession – The Conversation US

Posted: at 6:17 am

Much of the U.S. economy has effectively shut down as America increasingly takes the coronavirus pandemic seriously. Retail stores and restaurants across the country are vacant. The entertainment and hospitality industries are on hiatus.

While necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, this will have grave consequences for the economy as well as for the tens of millions of workers who depend on hourly wages to buy food, medicine and put a roof over their heads.

The Trump administration is finally taking it seriously too and asking Congress to pass an US$850 billion stimulus package, including sending $1,000 checks directly to all adult Americans. Some lawmakers are pushing for larger payments and over several months.

This is welcome news. As a macroeconomist specializing in income inequality, I know direct payments are just what low-wage Americans suddenly without a paycheck need to endure the crisis, which could last many months.

Unlike the 2008 financial crisis, this is an economic crisis hitting working-class and low-income Americans hardest.

Professional, salaried workers are able to work from home. They will continue to get regular paychecks and be in a good position to weather the economic storm created by the coronavirus. Professionals who lose some income likely have some savings to rely on until the economy recovers.

On the other hand, the waiters, retail clerks, hospitality industry employees and other hourly workers who make up nearly 60% of the U.S. labor force will be without work for an indefinite amount of time and rely on an unemployment insurance program that is far too stingy.

Furthermore, low-income Americans typically live paycheck to paycheck with virtually no savings. A recent survey by the Federal Reserve found that 40% of households couldnt come up with $400 to meet an unexpected expense.

Compounding this problem is excessive household debt, now exceeding $14 trillion. Highly indebted households are more vulnerable during an economic downturn. Their debt obligations must be paid, even when their income drops. My own research has found that many households were in financial distress well before the coronavirus hit. Now they are much more likely to default on loan repayments.

The bottom line is that people need money to survive.

Whats more, the U.S. economy needs people to spend money.

Consumer spending accounts for 70% of economic activity. It was already slowing and will slow much further now that people are losing their jobs and incomes.

Like the coronavirus, the problem of households in financial distress must be contained before things spiral out of control. Millions of retail clerks and bartenders suddenly without a job for several months cant spend and cant keep the economy growing. Their spending is others income, which means more companies will lose sales and other workers will lose their jobs.

They also wont be able to repay their debts, whether a mortgage, auto loan or credit card. When lots of indebted consumers cant repay their loans, financial institutions are at risk of going under, leading to a real financial crisis, as Italy now appears to be experiencing.

Thats what makes quick payments to Americans so vital.

Unlike many other forms of stimulus, the U.S. can send citizens $1,000 very easily and without delay the Trump administration hopes to do this within a couple of weeks. Ideally, it does it with no questions asked, no strings attached and for many months.

Its basically just a temporary form of what entrepreneur Andrew Yang talked about a lot during his run for the presidency, and its hardly new. When done on a permanent basis, its known as a basic income guarantee and has been proposed by a variety of people, from liberals like Yang to conservatives like economist Milton Friedman.

While people have an urgent need for money to simply pay bills and buy food now, the basic income guarantee is usually pushed as a longer-term solution to reducing poverty and inequality, as well as to offset the expected declines in employment as a result of automation and other technologies in the coming decades.

Its unclear for how long the White House wants to send out checks, but in my view they should be sent out each month until the economic crisis ends so that people can pay the rent, pay utilities and buy food.

A check in the mail is so very vital right now, but its not enough.

The U.S. should also expand unemployment benefits and other social insurance programs. Small businesses whose customers have vanished will need more support so that they can survive. And some industries, like airlines, may need a bailout.

But $1,000 would be a good down payment to help Americans already struggling and losing their jobs.

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Trump's right: Congress should give Americans $1,000 right now to fight the coronavirus recession - The Conversation US

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Covid-19s Economic Pain Is Universal. But Relief? Depends on Where You Live. – The New York Times

Posted: at 6:17 am

In a Queens apartment, a laid-off busboy has no idea if he will make next months rent or feed his family. An out-of-work waitress in Amsterdam, though, can count on the government to cover 90 percent of her wages. As a Malaysian florist anxiously burns through her savings, cafe owners in Brussels receive about $4,300 to make up for lost revenue.

Weeks of layoffs and lockdowns have made clear that poor and working-class people will bear a disproportionate share of the pain from the coronavirus pandemic. In cities around the world, work has stopped. Bills have not. And no end is in sight. But the first wave of government rescue packages has exposed another reality: The pain will depend largely on where people live.

The disparity reflects not only the worlds differing safety nets, but also the contrasting views of a governments role in a crisis. Should it pump cash into the economy? Bail out businesses? Replace lost income for workers? Those questions are at the heart of a protracted debate over a nearly $2 trillion rescue package being negotiated in Washington.

I dont know what Im going to do. Oh my God, said Jose Luis Candia, 34, who lost his two jobs busing tables at high-end Manhattan restaurants. His wife gave birth to their third daughter a month ago. Friends have donated money for groceries. He does not know how he will pay rent or what will happen if he cannot.

Half a world away, in Copenhagen, workers in Mr. Candias situation face a different reality. The Danish government has promised to cover 75 percent to 90 percent of salaries if businesses do not lay off their employees. Better to pay to keep people employed than to pay for the disruption caused by mass layoffs and unemployment, the government has said.

I live from paycheck to paycheck, said Sebastian Lassen, 25, a coffee shop manager in Copenhagen. He feared the uncertainty, he added, but never considered that the government would allow so many workers to fall into poverty. We didnt come to the thought that, OK, maybe well be on the street, he said.

The Netherlands will pay up to 90 percent of wages for companies hit hard by the pandemic, with extra provisions being developed for restaurants. Everybody here believes that the government will take responsibility for the situation, and I believe that too, said Athina Ainali, a 25-year-old waitress for one of Amsterdams many shuttered restaurants.

Washington is divided over how to dole out recovery aid. Proposals have included one-time $1,200 payments. The biggest chunk of money, about $425 billion, is set aside for central bankers to use largely as they see fit. Economists say they expect that will include buying corporate debt and stabilizing financial markets. Democrats say the proposals do not do enough to expand unemployment benefits, provide food assistance or relieve student debt.

New York restaurant owners and workers are calling for aggressive action, including doubling unemployment benefits (which currently cover only about 50 percent of wages, even for minimum-wage employees) and providing rent abatement for displaced employees.

What distinguishes the United States from other countries is not the nature of the bailouts. Its the underlying structure, said Carol Graham, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies safety nets. People are more vulnerable from the get-go, even in normal times. You throw a shock like this at the system? Its about as bad as it could get.

American workers face extra anxiety over medical costs. The United States, unlike most of the developed world, does not guarantee health care.

While countries like Denmark have famously robust safety nets, even the Conservative government in Britain has, after years of austerity, adopted a similar approach. For the first time in our history, the government is going to step in and pay peoples wages, the British chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said last week. The plan, which is still being developed, will pay up to about $2,900 a month to workers who have lost hours but are not laid off.

The center-right government in Germany will spend more than $40 billion to help small businesses cover basic needs to stay afloat during the crisis. That is in addition to a program aimed at larger companies, called kurzarbeit, or short-time working, that covers lost wages for employees who are sent home, to avoid laying them off. Economists expect about two million workers to receive aid under the program, more than during the financial crisis a decade ago.

We have a security net, and people dont fall below the security net, said Dierk Hirschel, the chief economist of ver.di, one of Germanys largest trade unions. But people are going to lose income, and in a traumatic way.

The German development bank, KfW, has promised an all-but-unlimited supply of business loans. There will be no upper limits for the amount of credit that the KfW can give out, Peter Altmaier, the minister of the economy, said.

Even with the rush to save jobs, uncertainty remains. Britains plan may come too late for workers who have already been laid off. If they cannot find jobs soon, they will most likely fall into the nations welfare system, which can pay as little as $300 a month. I do not know where to go from here, said Delphine Thomas, 20, who was laid off from a movie theater in Liverpool.

South Koreas employee-retention program covers 70 percent of wages or more, and the government recently loosened the rules to make more businesses eligible. But part-time workers, contractors and the self-employed receive fewer protections. Some may be eligible for one-time cash payments. Labor advocates want those workers to have the same benefits as full-time employees.

Business owners, too, face uneven support depending on the country. Elias Calcoen and his partner opened a cafe in Brussels eight months ago. It has been closed for more than a week, but the citys government is offering small businesses immediate $4,300 payments, plus $1,300 a month in federal aid for displaced self-employed workers.

We have no kids, we are in good health and the Belgian government is not leaving us by ourselves, Mr. Calcoen said. There are many people who are in a much worse position.

Brenda James-Leong, a florist in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, says she has been burning through savings while her store is closed. The Malaysian government has offered monthly assistance to the unemployed and lump payments to workers in certain sectors. If the government is doing anything for small businesses like mine, it has not been communicated as of now, she said.

Such apprehension is common, even in countries with generous aid programs. Ursula Waltemath, who owns Restaurant Brace in Copenhagen with her husband, has converted from fine dining to takeout. With schools closed, their 3-year-old daughter shadows them everywhere. At this rate, she figures they can survive three months, even with the government paying a portion of salaries.

It sounds amazing, and it is, to have this help, she said. But even 25 percent of all employee salaries, and rent and basic expenses, is a fortune if you have zero income.

Reporting was contributed by Anna Schaverien, Su-Hyun Lee, Jack Ewing and Melissa Eddy.

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Covid-19s Economic Pain Is Universal. But Relief? Depends on Where You Live. - The New York Times

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