Building the New Economy Conference

A couple of days ago I pointed out how Steve Rattner, Obama’s auto czar, was absolutely blind to the degree to which his impressions of the auto industry were true, too, for Rattner’s own finance industry. That highlighted an issue I’ve been trying to focus on (between covering Obama’s cover-up of Dick Cheney’s crimes): the huge imbalance in our economy.

I’ll be heading to DC tomorrow for a conference that tries to address that issue, “Building the New Economy.” As Scott Paul, who’s been leading these issues, says,

But chalking up the blame to a few bad apples on Wall Street and their risky financial instruments, and responding by simply providing appropriate regulation in the financial services sector, will ultimately be unsatisfying. There are much deeper, structural issues which must be urgently addressed. Otherwise, the absurd positive feedback loop will continue: consumer debt, subsidized Chinese imports, American job loss and factory closures, the growing U.S. current account deficit, burgeoning Chinese currency reserves reinvested in American debt … These will only inflate new bubbles and reinforce our current problems.

Some of us warned that this day would come. We knew that an economic strategy predicated on replacing wage growth with debt and credit to maintain a certain standard of living was doomed to fail. We knew that this nation could not replace manufacturing jobs and their multiplier effect, as well as their positive impact on the trade balance and wealth generation, with lower-wage service and retail jobs.

If you’re in town, stop by–some cool bloggers–and people like Sherrod Brown and Richard Trumka will be there.

Hopefully, we can fix health care then start talking about how Americans can make something again.

16 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    If you get a chance, invite Sherrod Brown out for some beer-thirty.

    And if you find any free time left during business hours, how about cornering somebody over at DOJ and ask them WTF is taking so long on that OPR report that AG Holder has been saying he’ll release “anyday now” for the last 6 months.

    Oh, and if there’s any time left over before you leave town, corner Harry Reid and have him kick Joe Lieberman in the nuts.

    And if Harry won’t do it, invite Joe to your beer-thirty and kick him yourself!

    Other than that, have a great time! *g*

    • 4jkb4ia says:

      Attitude towards Joe Lieberman has not improved in the last 12 hours. I would actually call him a double-crossing turkey to his face.

      • kindGSL says:

        I would call him a drug dealing, war mongering traitor to his face, but then I have actually been tortured (by order of his committee).

    • phred says:

      I would just like to second everything MadDog said : )

      I’m really looking forward to hearing about this conference EW. I’m particularly interested to learn how much discussion there will be about restructuring the perverse incentives built into our current economic framework.

      Will the discussion just be about restoring manufacturing within the current system or will they also discuss redesigning trade agreements, properly accounting for energy/life-cycle costs in products, creating a competitve environment where many small companies can thrive to move us away from too-big-to-fail industries? I would also love to hear if there is anything said about reorienting our economy away from the Wall Street driven short term gambling returns to a more stable long-term investment model.

      Whatever is discussed, I’m looking forward to reading about it… Have fun!

      • phred says:

        Huh. I just edited my comment a little bit and all the carriage returns that created multiple paragraphs were removed. I tried to re-edit it, to no avail. I know there have been recent software updates, so just thought I would mention it.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Secondedexcept have Alan Grayson ring HoJo’s Bell !

      If you have that much fun, you might never return to MI … *g*

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sherrod Brown of Ohio is a progressive worth watching and supporting. He appears to be one of the few senators who listens to his constituents. He has been a leader in the Senate for a strong public option and puts his actions where his rhetoric is: his health insurance comes from his own resources, not the taxpayer paid executive plan Congress awarded itself.

    Ohio could turn bluer in 2010. Conservative Sen. George Voinovich is retiring and two strong Democrats are in the race to succeed him. It’s likely to be a tough fight, but one the Democrats can win. Like California, Ohio has been hard hit by “old” economy cutbacks, notably in automotive and its supplier businesses. Credible, popular policies and their advocates will sell well.

    Brown’s stand is courageous, too, not just because he stands out among the faux progressives and centrists this Democratic Congress has spawned. Insurance, health insurance, medical services and banking are big business in Ohio. Politicians seen to oppose their interests face formidable obstacles. So kudos to Sen. Brown.

    Enjoy your trip, EW, and possibly the bars around Dupont or Logan Circles. (I avoid the trendier places in G’twn and Adams Morgan, preferring a little Irish place near K and 19th.)

  3. behindthefall says:

    Land development cannot drive the engine of the next recovery — we’ve already built up about as much as there is, overbuilt, too, if the number of stores that never got customers and are now closed is any indication.

    Building more Tyvek balloons, those overinflated (in all senses) McMansions won’t drive the economy, either. At some point, we are either going to realize that what remains of the countryside cannot only be paved or squatted on or ecological realities are going to simply take their toll, whether we like it or not.

    I have not heard a word that suggests there is any realization of this. Of course, that may be because I am all wet with this idea. But it worries me. “Reuse” ought to be, it seems to me, on everybody’s mind, particularly the reuse of paved land. Stripping and sequestering asphalt and then restoring the strangled soil beneath ought to be a growth industry.

    Also worrying, of course, that small shops where the country’s creativity and skill could flourish and produce “stuff” at some distance from the corporate framework must have a nearly insurmountable barrier to profitability in the cost of employee benefits, health first among those. If I had a good idea and the ability to make something, then started a business to do just that, how would I expand the business beyond myself? The incremental cost of hiring must look like a wall that’s very nearly unscaleable. Universal coverage, single (governmental) payer: without that, our tinder’s wet and the flames won’t catch.

    Is it just me?

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Land AND sea… A recent diary ( about the giant Pacific plastic garbage patch on Daily Kos had photos of gull skeletons stuffed with plastic. Scroll down and see them all. Something has to be done, it’s so sickening. One commenter had the idea that this is an opportunity for a new business reprocessing all that plastic/oil in a floating plastics recycling plant: Who can make that happen? How can that be made to happen? It might be profitable, but that word “profit” disguises so many sins and stupidities I hate to even frame the urgency and need for such work in those terms. But this so needs to be part of the discussion of any new economy. There’s so much to do and so many people needing work — an original purpose/requirement of corporations in colonial times was to benefit the public good — can’t we start rethinking here?

      • kindGSL says:

        If you could make the plastic sticky so it would consolidate into a series of floating islands, it could become valuable real estate.

        • bobschacht says:

          And what would that do to the gills of water-breathing fish that happened to come by?

          And Rachel Maddow had on her show the other day about great gobs of sea phlegm. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any garbage fish that eat the stuff (yeech).

          Bob in AZ

      • bobschacht says:

        There needs to be a strengthened UN Ocean Patrol that can (a) arrest vessels of any nation dumping stuff illegally into the ocean, and (b)engage in clean-up activities financed by a tax on every member nation and fines on illegal dumping. This presupposes adequate UN International laws governing the use of International waters. I think this will be one of the UN’s major challenges of the 21st century.

        Similarly, the UN needs a major Department of Ocean Ecology to manage and preserve oceanic species stocks of all kinds (including polar bears in the Arctic). Right now, oceanic stocks are being depleted at an alarming rate.

        Finally, the plastic garbage issue is complicated by the fact that it is not just the gross plastic trash that you can see with the naked eye that is a problem. In these oceanic garbage dumps there are enormous quantities of microscopic and near-microscopic pieces of plastic that can clog the gills of fish and other water-breathers. Right now, there is little or no regulation of deep sea resource exploitation. The situation is really a mess, and needs immediate attention.

        Bob in AZ
        who used to live in HI

  4. 4jkb4ia says:

    EW, have a great time. I hope that you learn something. behindthefall’s comment is spot on but the administration is obviously aware of the “green jobs” issue as it is one of the few concrete economic proposals they campaigned on. It is important to share knowledge of what it takes to create jobs among the general public.

  5. selise says:

    marcy, will galbraith be there? i hope so, there is a lot of economic nonsense (of the neoliberal variety) that informs most democratic discussions on the economy. if you haven’t been reading them already, may i suggest some heterodox economists (post keynesian variety although there is some disagreement / different insights and approaches) to you? steve keen (i wish every progressive would read his “debunking economics”), warren mosler, randy wray (i’ve just ordered his “understanding modern money” as several people have told me it is also an excellent resource) and bill mitchell. they all have blogs (at the links) and seem quite interested in helping the interested non economist. also many good papers available at levy institute.

    lots more, but i will stop there. have a great trip. (and p.s. after your trip, when you have time, could you please explain how healthcare is going to be fixed by a public option in a weakly regulated multipayer system? more neoliberal nonsense as far as i’m concerned but would welcome the opportunity to change my mind on that)

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