Why Markets Alone Can’t Rectify Power Imbalances, Increasing Public Power to Increase Competition, and Roosevelt on the Radio

May 3, 2019

The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top 5 stories of the week.

1. Why Markets Alone Can’t Rectify Power Imbalances

Roosevelt Vice President of Policy and Strategy Nell Abernathy joined the latest episode of Bloomberg’s P&L podcast, where she discussed New Rules for the 21st Century and explained why markets alone can’t rectify income and power imbalances in today’s economy. “We argue that we need to fundamentally rethink our approach to markets and our approach to government,” she said. “We need markets to do what they can do well—create jobs, innovate, provide valuable goods and services—but that’s not how markets are functioning today.” Abernathy outlines how market fundamentalism holds our economy and society back and why we need new pro-democracy, pro-growth rules, including progressive tax reform, renewed antitrust policy and enforcement, and more inclusive corporate governance.

2. Increasing Public Power to Increase Competition

In “Increasing Public Power to Increase Competition: A Foundation for an Inclusive Economy,” Roosevelt Senior Fellow Sandy Darity and Fellows Darrick Hamilton and Rakeen Mabud explore public options—or good and services, including housing, health care, and education, that would be guaranteed by the government. Ultimately, the authors outline a renewed, robust vision of government that can guide policymakers, journalists, and voters in reimagining public power and thinking cohesively about when and how to deploy it. On the blog, Roosevelt’s Nell Abernathy and RI Communications Director Kendra Bozarth explain why this matters.

3. The Future of Labor

What’s next for workers and the future of work? On Splinter, Libby Watson explores the intersection of technology and unionization in the 21st century. Roosevelt Fellow Brishen Rogers spoke with Watson about unionization in modern-day America: “There have been some prominent and promising examples of the internet’s power for organizing in the last few years,” writes Watson. “Rogers noted that even in traditional unionized industries, online organizing can be very impressive.” As Watson shows, the longstanding, deep decline in worker power and union membership, stemming from exploitative employer practices and insufficient labor law, can either be reversed or exacerbated by new technology—depending on the rules.

4. Vertical Integration and the Market Power Crisis

The US economy suffers from a market power problem that has invaded many sectors, and competition as America once knew it is increasingly a thing of the past. In “Vertical Integration and the Market Power Crisis,” Roosevelt Program Associate Kristina Karlsson alongside former research associate Adil Abdela and former fellow Marshall Steinbaum define vertical integration—or vertical mergers between firms at different stages of the supply chain. They also explore its threat to our economy, revisit historical enforcement trends that set the stage for today’s market power crisis, and outline how antitrust rules and regulations must change going forward.

5. Capitalism Is Broken—But We Can Fix It

The Economy Isn’t Getting Better for Most Americans. But There Is a Fix,” writes Heather Boushey, executive director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, in The Guardian. Boushey explains why we need to change the way we think about and measure economic growth, or policymakers and economists risk losing out on progress for everyday people. “The economy is getting bigger, but not better,” she writes. “Not for most Americans, anyway.” Boushey elevates the Worker Power Agreement, as proposed by Roosevelt Fellow Todd N. Tucker, as one way to combat outsized corporate and employer power and rebalance the economy.

What We’re Listening To

Roosevelt is all over the radio. On the Insight Center for Community Economic Development’s Hidden Truths podcast, Roosevelt Fellow Rakeen Mabud discussed mandatory arbitration and other features of the 21st century workplace that are decreasing worker power and driving negative economic outcomes for women and people of color. And Roosevelt Fellow Andrea Flynn joined Tanzina Vega’s The Takeaway alongside Adam Serwer, a staff writer at The Atlantic, talking race, infrastructure, and New Deal exclusions.