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Amanda Fischer

Articles by Amanda Fischer

Main Street’s workers, families, and small businesses are now suffering as Wall Street prospers from policies to fight the coronavirus recession

September 17, 2020

Wall Street and Main Street are feeling very different effects from the coronavirus pandemic.Overview

In San Antonio, 10,000 cars lined up to get bags of groceries from a local food bank, waiting hours in the heat for help. In New Orleans, advocates chained themselves together outside of the city courthouse to prevent landlords from finalizing evictions. In New York City, more than one-third of small businesses may be closed forever. And across the United States, more than 190,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as of early September.

But while these economic and health crises unfold in cities and towns across the country, a slice of the U.S. economy continues to thrive, insulated from upheaval, or even benefitting from it. The

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Did the Paycheck Protection Program work for small businesses across the United States?

July 15, 2020

A waiter disinfects tables at an outdoor café during the coronavirus pandemic.Overview

Across the United States over the past few weeks, we’ve all seen advertisements, received emails, or heard from friends about small businesses trying to inch back to some semblance of  pre-pandemic normal. Hair salons reopening. Gyms welcoming people back into their facilities. Restaurants shifting from take-out only to dining outside and even inside. Specialist retail shops reopening their doors for walk-in customers. Daycare centers beginning to test whether parents will re-enroll their kids.

Now, governors and mayors across the country are giving businesses large and small the green light to invite back their customers. But these openings remain fragile, at best, or are even slipping out

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In Conversation with Mehrsa Baradaran

June 9, 2020

The political decisions behind Federal Reserve monetary policymaking

Fischer: To your point about our support for large corporations in the CARES Act and otherwise, I think that there’s a perception that Fed interventions in the economy are just seen as bolstering “the market,” which is viewed as neutral. As if the market is natural law or the invisible hand. And the Fed is seen as this neutral arbiter that should not be used to advance policy goals, whether that’s addressing inequality or building out a faster payment system for individuals and families or being seen as an instrument to reduce climate risk. Can you talk about how the Fed being deployed to support “the market” is actually really a political choice? And what another way forward

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For an equitable recovery, federal relief to deal with the coronavirus recession must be transparent to the U.S. public

May 13, 2020

U.S. policymakers’ decisions are only as good as the data they have to inform them, and the public’s trust in institutions is only as good as the information available to them.
That fact came into stark relief during the previous economic crisis. During the subprime mortgage collapse beginning in 2007 and its subsequent policy response, no federal agency collected or served as a clearinghouse for comprehensive data on mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures. That meant that when Congress and executive branch agencies made decisions about allocating rescue funding, they had to do so using imperfect proxies and proprietary data, which included many gaps, were reported by companies with potential conflicts of interest, and missed key information needed to ensure an equitable recovery.

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Early lessons learned from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s first round of lending from its Payroll Protection Program

April 23, 2020

Underscoring the direness of the coronavirus recession, Congress just reached an agreement to provide another $380 billion in rescue funding for small businesses, just one month after the passage of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The small business loans authorized in the CARES Act and expanded this week are known as the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program. These funds were among the first sources of rescue funding to be vacuumed up by desperate borrowers, whose businesses have been shuttered or severely hamstrung by the pandemic.
Despite hiccups in getting the program running, the $349 billion funding first deployed by the SBA on April 3 evaporated in just two weeks—a significant policy accomplishment but also

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Rescuing small businesses to fight the coronavirus recession and prevent further economic inequality in the United States

April 14, 2020

The U.S. Congress last month mobilized trillions of dollars in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help workers and businesses survive while mandatory COVID-19 public health measures put our economy on hold. While the size of the support in the CARES Act—around $2.2 trillion that will be leveraged up to $6.5 trillion—is important, just as crucial is how that money gets deployed. The speed with which funds reach individuals and businesses will determine which workers, families, and employers will weather this deep recession caused by policymakers’ failure to manage a public health crisis before it also became an economic crisis.
Differences in the efficiency and accessibility of rescue efforts between small and large businesses, in particular, are

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What Members of Congress Can Do After the Bailout

April 2, 2020

(This opinion piece first appeared in the American Prospect on March 30, 2020.)
Congress was faced with a choice last week over how to restructure our economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis—a choice over the scale and length of the pain inflicted, and its impact on working people. While Democrats and Republicans were far apart in their first negotiating bids, the big, pricey package eventually reached a point of consensus, and advanced through Congress last Friday. It includes a response to the health care crisis facing hospitals; significant increases in unemployment benefits and some direct payments to individuals; help for small businesses; and, unsurprisingly, corporate bailouts. When it’s all totaled, it’s expected to cost around $2 trillion, but that’s an

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