September 26, 2017

White House Warns Against Threats of Debt Default

WASHINGTON — Five years ago, the investment bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. The credit markets seized. The unemployment rate soared. Small and large financial institutions shook, and some fell, as the economy plunged into the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

On Sunday, the Obama administration celebrated its successes in combating the recession, while acknowledging the difficulties that remain: while the corporate economy has rebounded strongly, the middle class and its aspirants continue to feel the squeeze of high unemployment and sluggish wage growth.

The White House warned this weekend that Congressional recalcitrance on raising the federal debt ceiling might hurt the economy at a still-fragile time, with Gene B. Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council, warning in a call with reporters about the “unnecessary threatening of default” this fall.

“Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth,” a White House report said.

“The last thing we can afford right now is a decision from Congress to throw our economy back into crisis by refusing to pay our country’s bills or shutting down the government,” it said.

Mr. Sperling, the chief White House economic adviser, said that the negotiations over the debt ceiling in 2011 proved harmful to the economy — with some business leaders ranking them “with Pearl Harbor or 9/11” in terms of their hit to consumer confidence.

The economy remains weak as the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans prepare themselves for another round of bruising budget talks.

The unemployment rate has fallen to 7.3 percent. But a smaller proportion of Americans are working or looking for work than at any time in the last 35 years. And millions of wage-earning families have become poorer over the past decade, judging by wage growth and inflation.

The short-term measure financing the government will run out at the end of September, raising the risk of a government shutdown. The Obama administration anticipates running out of room under its statutory debt ceiling around mid-October, meaning that Congress might have to authorize the printing of new debt or deal with the unprecedented consequences of a default.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/business/economy/white-house-warns-against-threats-of-debt-default.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bank of England Ties Interest Rate to Employment

LONDON — The Bank of England said Wednesday that it planned to keep interest rates at a record low until unemployment falls to at least 7 percent, a significant shift in the bank’s strategy to help Britain’s economic recovery.

By linking future interest rate decisions directly to the unemployment rate, the Bank of England’s new governor, Mark J. Carney, broke with tradition and aligned the bank more with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy of giving more clarity about its intentions. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, also recently eliminated some uncertainty by saying interest rates would not rise for some time.

After an initial drop against the dollar following Mr. Carney’s announcement, the pound recovered and continued to strengthen, rising against the euro as well. The FTSE 100 share index fell slightly.

Short of pumping more money into economies that are still struggling to recover, central bankers in Europe have been seeking new ways to encourage banks to lend and trying to increase confidence among companies and consumers. Mr. Carney, who took over at the Bank of England last month, said the link with unemployment was aimed at reducing uncertainty.

The Bank of England said it did not plan to increase interest rates, currently at 0.5 percent, until the unemployment rate declined to at least 7 percent from the current level of 7.8 percent. The central bank also forecast that unemployment might not reach that level until at least the third quarter of 2016, hinting that interest rates in Britain could remain unchanged for another three years.

“The economy is in recovery rather than remission and this guidance gives the bank the flexibility to reduce the risk of relapse,” Peter Spencer, an economic adviser at Ernst Young’s ITEM Club, said.

Giving such guidance “reduces uncertainty because there can be a premature view of withdrawal of stimulus as the recovery builds up,” Mr. Carney said. “Our biggest concern is the possibility that as the recovery gathers pace that there is an unwarranted expectation of the pace of withdrawal of stimulus.”

Mr. Carney noted that the unemployment rate benchmark should be seen as a “way station” at which the Bank of England would start to reassess its policy, not a target that would automatically trigger a change in interest rates. The Bank of England picked the unemployment rate, he said, because it sought a figure that was “widely understood and widely available.”

Mr. Carney said the strategy, which he called “forward guidance,” does not mean the Bank of England would abandon its main objective of lowering inflation to 2 percent. In a letter to the chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, explaining the new strategy, Mr. Carney wrote that forward guidance “will further enhance the effectiveness of monetary policy so that it fully plays its part in securing a sustainable recovery over the medium term.”

After closely avoiding a triple-dip recession earlier this year, the British economy has started to show some signs of improvement. Consumer confidence has recovered, the value of homes has increased and some economists have predicted that growth will gather speed over the rest of the year.

Mr. Carney cautioned, however, that while there was “understandable relief that the U.K. economy has begun growing again” there “should be little satisfaction.”

“This is the slowest recovery in output on record,” he said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/08/business/global/bank-of-england-ties-interest-rate-to-employment.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Euro Watch: Dismal Data and Gloomy Forecasts From Europe

A top European official warned on Friday that the euro area economy would shrink for the second consecutive year and that countries like France and Spain would miss fiscal targets meant to ensure the stability of the common currency. Separately, the European Central Bank announced that the region’s banks planned to repay less than half the expected amount of low-interest loans they took out a year ago. And Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Britain’s government bonds from its top AAA rating.

The economic doldrums could set the stage for ripple effects for the United States, particularly in the financial markets.

“The straight growth channel in Europe is weighing on the U.S. right now, but the more important channel through which the euro area hits the U.S. is in financial markets, and problems that could affect consumer and business sentiment,” said Joseph Lupton, senior global economist at JPMorgan Chase. “Where it becomes a big deal is if there’s some other stress point, if something else flares up in the financial markets.”

Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, forecast growth across the 27-nation European Union of just 0.1 percent this year and a contraction of 0.3 percent among the 17 countries in the euro zone.

Mr. Rehn’s presentation signaled “another year of falling output and rising unemployment in store in 2013,” said Tom Rogers, a senior economic adviser at Ernst Young.

Prospects for growth in many parts of the European Union were “very disappointing,” Mr. Rehn acknowledged at a news conference, where he presented a so-called winter economic forecast prepared by his department at the European Commission, the bloc’s administrative arm.

“The ongoing rebalancing of the European economy is continuing to weigh on growth in the short term,” Mr. Rehn said.

Just three months ago, the commission forecast that the euro area economy would grow by 0.1 percent this year, and other officials had talked about a turnaround starting this year.

Mr. Rehn said the European economy should resume expanding in 2014, with growth reaching 1.6 percent across the European Union and 1.4 percent in the euro zone.

In another sign of continued weakness in the financial system, European banks plan to repay less than half the expected amount of low-interest loans they took from the European Central Bank.

The central bank lent more than 1 trillion euros ($1.33 trillion) in two operations in December 2011 and February 2012. The cheap loans provided a life raft for the region’s banking sector, which ran into difficulty during the debt crisis. During the period of uncertainty, banks refused to lend to one another. Late last month, banks paid back 137 billion euros of the loans, more than expected, suggesting that at least some banks were able to raise money on their own.

But on Friday, the central bank said that banks that took the second round of loans planned to return 61 billion euros in the latest repayment, much less than many had expected.

Moody’s downgraded its rating on Britain’s debt to Aa1 from AAA, citing continuing weakness in the country’s medium-term growth outlook and rising debt burden. The rising debt means “a deterioration in the shock-absorption capacity of the government’s balance sheet, which is unlikely to reverse before 2016,” the agency said.

Britain has been cutting spending to pare its deficit but has failed so far to stimulate growth. Its economy expanded 0.9 percent in the third quarter but contracted 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter.

Standard Poor’s and Fitch Ratings still have AAA ratings on Britain’s debt, though their outlooks are negative.

The move comes after other prominent downgrades. Moody’s lowered France from its top rating in November. Before that, Standard Poor’s downgraded the United States from AAA in August 2011 and lowered France and Austria in January 2012.

In the euro zone, the European Commission also forecast that unemployment would continue to rise this year, to 12.2 percent, up from 11.4 percent in 2012.

David Jolly contributed reporting from Paris and Catherine Rampell from New York.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/23/business/global/daily-euro-zone-watch.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Lew to Complete Change of Obama’s Economic Team

Mr. Obama called Mr. Lew “a master of policy who can work with membes of both parties and forge principled compromises.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Lew, 57, would become just the second Treasury secretary for Mr. Obama, succeeding Timothy F. Geithner, who at the president’s insistence stayed for the entire first term.

Mr. Geithner, formerly president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and a top Treasury official in the Clinton administration, was the last remaining principal from the original Obama economic team that took office at the height of the global financial crisis in January 2009.

Mr. Lew, in brief remarks, did not address the looming challenges of the job, saying only that he looked forward to leading a Treasury staff that he called “legendary for their skill and knowledge.”

Mr. Geithner, who received a warm send-off, said his successor was “committed to defending the safety net for the elderly and the poor,” a reference to programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, which are under intense pressure in the long-running fiscal negotiations.

Mr. Lew also “understands what it takes to create the conditions for economic growth,” he added.

While the team is changing, so far it is made up entirely of men who have been part of the administration since its first months. Gene Sperling, like Mr. Lew a veteran of the Clinton administration and the partisan budget wars of that era, is expected to remain as director of the White House National Economic Council. Alan B. Krueger, a former Treasury economist, will continue as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and Jeffrey D. Zients, a former business executive, remains for now as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, though Mr. Obama is said to want to promote him to another job.

That composition gives Mr. Obama a high degree of comfort with his economic advisers, who have experience in the budget struggles that have occupied the administration since Republicans took control of the House two years ago. Those struggles will resume later this month. Yet the continuity also plays into criticism that the president is too insular and insufficiently open to outside voices and fresh eyes in the White House.

If Mr. Lew is confirmed in time, his first test as Treasury secretary could come as soon as next month, when the administration and Congressional Republicans are expected to face off over increasing the nation’s debt ceiling, which is the legal limit on the amount that the government can borrow. Mr. Obama has said he will not negotiate over raising that limit, which was often lifted routinely in the past, but Republican leaders have said they will refuse to support an increase unless he agrees to an equal amount of spending cuts, particularly to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Mr. Lew was passed over for Mr. Obama’s economic team four years ago, when Mr. Obama instead chose Lawrence H. Summers, a former Harvard University president and Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, as director of the National Economic Council. Hillary Rodham Clinton then hired Mr. Lew at the State Department when she became secretary, and in late 2010 — over the objections of Mrs. Clinton, who had come to rely on Mr. Lew — Mr. Obama made him budget director, the same post Mr. Lew had held late in the Clinton administration.

Mr. Lew in the 1980s was a Democratic adviser to the House speaker at the time, Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., participating in fiscal talks with the Reagan administration. Mr. Lew is known for his low-key style and organizational skills.

While Mr. Lew has much less experience than Mr. Geithner in international economics and financial markets, he would come to the job with far more expertise in fiscal policy and dealing with Congress than Mr. Geithner did. That shift in skills reflects the changed times, when emphasis has shifted from a global financial crisis to the budget fights with Republicans in Congress.

John H. Cushman Jr. contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/us/politics/lew-to-complete-change-of-obamas-economic-team.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Continuity on Obama’s Economic Team

After President Obama took office in 2009, Jacob J. Lew became a deputy secretary of state within days. Gene Sperling was serving as an adviser to the Treasury secretary. Austan Goolsbee, a longtime Obama adviser, was serving on Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Alan B. Krueger would become an assistant secretary of the Treasury within a few months.

In the last four years, all of these men have gone on to higher jobs within the Obama administration, and Mr. Lew is expected to be named Treasury secretary soon. Mr. Sperling is the top economic adviser inside the West Wing, while Mr. Krueger is the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Mr. Goolsbee preceded him at the council before returning to the University of Chicago.

As a picture on Wednesday’s front page of The New York Times makes clear, Mr. Obama’s economic team is made up almost entirely of people who have been with the administration from the very beginning. This approach has benefits, especially because many of the budget battles of the second term will be extensions of the battles of the first.

“We’ve got a weird negotiation — let’s call it a multiyear negotiation,” Mr. Goolsbee said this week on the Charlie Rose show. In 2011, the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans agreed to spending cuts with no new tax revenue, Mr. Goolsbee noted. Last month, the two sides agreed to new tax revenue with no spending cuts. In coming talks, the parties will discuss more of each, with Democrats pushing for more tax revenue and Republicans for more spending cuts.

“After a year and a half of negotiating, we may have a grand bargain; it’s just not a grand bargain they actually struck all at once at the same table,” Mr. Goolsbee added.

But if Mr. Obama’s personnel strategy brings the benefit of consistency, it also has downsides. “Can it really be the case,” Ezra Klein of The Washington Post asked, “that after four very difficult years, there is nothing the White House would gain in its second term by bringing in outsiders with fresh experience, different relationships and a new perspective?”

For more on Mr. Lew, currently the White House chief of staff, see this recent profile by Sheryl Gay Stolberg or this 2010 profile by Jackie Calmes. In May, Annie Lowrey noted that his name seemed logical to include in any list of potential nominees. A 2009 article by Eric Lipton described the significant salary Mr. Lew made while working at Citigroup.

In January, Noah Rosenberg noted that Mr. Lew, who grew up in Queens, continued to live in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. In 1999, when Mr. Lew was the Clinton administration’s budget director, Tim Weiner dug into his New York roots.

Washington Jewish Week profiled Mr. Lew last year, describing him as a “‘regular guy’ who values the importance of friendship.” National Journal described him this way: “Tall and thin, with Harry Potter-like glasses and salt-and-pepper hair, he looks like a typical Washington technocrat, an image that belies his talent for combat.”

The Hill contrasted his speaking style with that of Rahm Emanuel, a former chief of staff. In 2001, The Washington Post noted Mr. Lew’s long history as a budget negotiator, including in the 1980’s debate over Social Security.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/continuity-on-obamas-economic-team/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Albert O. Hirschman, Economist and Resistance Figure, Dies at 97

His death was confirmed by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., where Mr. Hirschman spent the latter part of his career.

Mr. Hirschman pieced together his graduate work in economics in the 1930s while serving as a soldier and something of an insurgent. Born in Germany, he fought with reformers in the Spanish Civil War and later joined the French Army in its Resistance to the Nazis.

When France fell in 1940, he became an integral part of a rescue operation led by the journalist Varian Fry that helped more than 2,000 people escape to Spain, among them the artists Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp and the political theorist Hannah Arendt.

Mr. Hirschman found routes through the Pyrenees Mountains for those who were fleeing and smuggled messages in toothpaste tubes.

By the early 1940s, he had moved to the United States and enlisted in the Army, which sent him to North Africa and to Italy as part of its Office of Strategic Services. One of his duties was to translate for a German general in an early war crimes trial. Later, he worked with the Federal Reserve Board, focusing on European reconstruction under the Marshall Plan.

In 1952, he moved to Colombia to be an economic adviser to that impoverished but rapidly developing country. A few years later, he was back in the United States, beginning a 30-year academic career in which he blended economics, politics and culture and held posts at Yale, Columbia and Harvard. He rarely invoked the experiences of his youth in his academic work, but certain themes persisted in both periods of his life.

Mr. Hirschman argued that social setbacks were essentially an ingredient of progress, that good things eventually come from what he viewed as constructive tensions between private interest and civic mindedness, between quiet compliance and loud protest.

He ranged widely in his writings, which include geographically specific studies on economic development, like “Journeys Toward Progress: Studies of Economic Policy-Making in Latin America.” A broader work was “Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States,” published in 1970.

That book outlined different ways that people deal with disagreeable rules or situations politically, culturally and professionally. Some might suffer silently out of loyalty, while others raise questions and still others decide to abandon a situation. The theory has been applied to how politically oppressed people might flee a nation as well as why shoppers stop buying a certain product — a retail variation of what Mr. Hirschman called the “exit option.”

In 2003, William Safire, the columnist for The New York Times who also wrote the On Language column for The New York Times Magazine, led an informal search for the roots of the phrase “exit strategy.” The search led to economists, who pointed to Mr. Hirschman, who denied culpability, sort of.

“Did he coin the phrase?” Mr. Safire wrote after interviewing Mr. Hirschman. “No; it’s nowhere in his book. He used exit option. ‘It was a somewhat new concept then,’ Hirschman recalls. ‘I used exit to indicate a possibility, a strategy. When you are dissatisfied, you can use your voice option or your exit option. It is not so different from the political use today. Speak up or get out.’ ”

While many economists were increasingly immersed in statistics, Mr. Hirschman often wrote with a storyteller’s sweep about the behavior of nations, institutions and individuals. At a time when top-down models for stabilizing economies were popular, particularly in developing countries, Mr. Hirschman was inclined toward a kind of chaotic capitalism called disequilibria.

Mr. Hirschman “thought disequilibria creates problems that you have to solve — and that’s a good thing,” said Jeremy Adelman, a professor of history at Princeton and the author of a biography, “Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman,” to be published next year.

Otto Albert Hirschmann was born on April 7, 1915, in Berlin. (He later changed the order of his given names and dropped one of the n’s from his last name.) His father was a surgeon. His survivors include a daughter, Katia Salomon; four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. His wife of 70 years, the former Sarah Chapiro, died in January.

Mr. Hirschman was an ardent optimist. He believed, as Mr. Adelman put it, “that even the most seemingly immutable, impossible situations could be solved, that you could change things that seemed unchangeable.”

But he also said that things sometimes had to get harder before they got better.

“Somehow we always try to think in terms of having only one thing happen; everything else will coalesce around it, and we’ll come out all right,” Mr. Hirschman said in a transcribed conversation with an anthropologist in 1976.

He added: “Generally we only have one lever at a time. We only have one ‘new key’ at a time. To try to counteract this sort of thinking is very important. This kind of faddishness has marred all thinking about economic development.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/business/albert-o-hirschman-economist-and-resistance-figure-dies-at-97.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Obama Seeks Tax Breaks to Return Jobs From Abroad

Flanked by executives from the aerospace, chemical and furniture industries — all of whom are building or expanding factories in the United States — Mr. Obama declared that the nation was beginning to see the reversal of a long-term trend toward outsourcing. He called the new trend, perhaps inevitably, “insourcing.”

“We’re at a unique moment, an inflection point, a period where we’ve got the opportunity for those jobs to come back,” Mr. Obama said in the White House, after meeting with the executives. The American economy, he noted, has added manufacturing jobs for two years in a row, after more than a decade of losses.

The president did not offer details of the tax proposals, which presumably would be subject to approval by Congress, though he renewed his call on lawmakers to approve a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut that will expire at the end of February.

Mr. Obama said an increase in labor costs in China was eroding its advantage over the United States as a manufacturing base, a message the White House sought to buttress by circulating a research report from the Boston Consulting Group, a prominent management consulting organization. The president also said recent trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama would open markets for American exports.

Economists said small changes in tax policy would play only a marginal role in deciding where companies build factories. But with labor costs rising overseas, such changes could help reinforce a fledgling trend, they said. “There’s been a little bit of momentum on ‘insourcing’ because a lot of firms overdid it,” said Jared Bernstein, the former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “So it could help a bit at the margin.”

Mr. Obama cited examples from companies represented in the room: Ford Motor, which the president said had moved 2,000 jobs back to the United States; Master Lock, which relocated manufacturing to Milwaukee from China; and Lincolnton Furniture, a specialty manufacturer, which set up shop in North Carolina after its owner, Bruce Cochran, closed a family-owned furniture company in 1996 and spent time consulting with companies about moving operations to China and Vietnam.

“I don’t want America to be a nation that’s primarily known for financial speculation, and racking up debt and buying stuff from other nations,” the president said. “I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words, ‘Made in America.’ ”

Mr. Obama’s message served as a riposte to the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney, who repeated his charge Tuesday, in his speech after the New Hampshire primary, that the president was hostile to free enterprise.

One of the executives at the meeting, James M. Guyette of Rolls-Royce North America, said his company was making investments in Indiana, where it builds aircraft engines, and in Virginia, where it opened an advanced manufacturing and research campus last year that will eventually employ 500 people.

In an interview, Mr. Guyette said Rolls-Royce was not actually moving operations back to the United States. But he said it was pouring money into American operations, like a factory in Indianapolis that once had the company’s highest labor costs and lowest productivity. Negotiations with the United Automobile Workers union had cut those costs, he said, and made the factory competitive again. “Everyone could see where this road was going to end, if we didn’t do it differently,” he said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=0d9f3db2f7a2cb7dd644648d114c74ef

Economix Blog: Nancy Folbre: Public Job Creation

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Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

President Obama has signaled a new commitment to combating unemployment, with a major speech planned for later this week. The big question is whether his battle plan will go beyond indirect means of encouraging long-run employment growth (such as tax incentives) to include public job-creation programs that could significantly lower unemployment over the next year.

Today’s Economist

Perspectives from expert contributors.

His Republican critics take a “been there, done that, didn’t work” approach to economic stimulus. But President Obama’s stimulus plan, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, relied primarily on tax cuts and increases in aid to the states, shying away from direct federal job-creation efforts that were considered politically risky. (Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the time, provides a clear account of the administration’s rationale).

The stimulus helped the economy toward recovery. Increased aid to the states temporarily buffered the impact of state and local budget cuts. But over all, the Obama administration has been characterized by public job elimination rather than creation. The latest estimates of government employment (preliminary estimates for July 2011) show a significant decline since 2008, to about 22 million from about 22.5 million.

This decline in public employment will inevitably be intensified by further cuts in public spending and has particularly ominous implications for women, who make up a disproportionate share of state and local payrolls.

As Eileen Appelbaum points out, men were harder hit by job losses in 2009 than women but also faster to regain jobs as private sector hiring revived. A recent report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research provides a vivid, up-to-date graph of these trends.

As of August 2011, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for men 16 and older was 9.6 percent; that for women, 8.5 percent. A new Economic Policy Institute report notes that persistently high unemployment has lowered the earnings and family income of a wide swath of American families.

Democrats to the left of President Obama have long argued the need for direct job creation through new federal programs, targeted transfers to state and local governments or both. Robert Reich, who served as secretary of labor under President Clinton, has offered a model speech along with a model plan.

The National Urban League, a prominent civil rights organization, has outlined a 12-point proposal, Putting America Back to Work.

Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, has introduced several legislative proposals, most recently the Local Jobs for America Act. Money would go directly to eligible local communities and nonprofit community organizations that would decide how best to use them. The act would also underwrite approximately 50,000 additional private-sector on-the-job training positions to help businesses put people back to work.

Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, has sponsored the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, which puts more explicit emphasis on money for schools, health care and community service. This program would be fully financed through separate legislation creating higher tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, elimination of subsidies for major oil companies and closing of corporate tax loopholes that encourage offshoring of American jobs.

In a post last year, I described several specific proposals to create jobs in home-care services, including a voucher program to help subsidize the cost of home aides for the elderly, moving them out of nursing homes and back to their own homes.

Last week, Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, mobilized an online discussion of participants in the Womens Scholars Forum (including me). The resulting briefing paper summarizes a number of additional ideas, such as expanding the length of the school day and school year to improve educational outcomes and developing an Urban Conservation Corps.

The briefing paper emphasizes a longstanding concern of women’s organizations: the need to make sure that “women get their fair share of jobs that are nontraditional for women, for example technical and craft jobs in construction, transportation, and green energy and that are supported by federal dollars or federally guaranteed loans.”

A good example of targeted spending in this area is a small grant that the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor recently awarded to Austin Community College in Texas to recruit women to a renewable energy training program.

A strong public job-creation effort could help qualified graduates of programs like these find jobs improving the energy efficiency of schools and other public buildings. The employment impact would be both quicker and more reliable than subsidized loans or tax breaks for renewable energy companies.

Right now, the unemployed themselves represent an important form of renewable energy that is going to waste. That’s why President Obama should take a close look at proposals to put them to work in a variety of publicly financed jobs.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=53fcc2ca3dbac420e4a9f3c930295a43