Global underconsumption and a structurally-weakened working class are problems likely to persist as the twenty-first century marches on. Altering the shape of our global economy will require building new institutions capable of funneling excess savings into productive investment. This is not something that can be done with a temporary increase in spending—no matter how large. Moreover, as commentators stressed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter uprisings of 2020, such investment must be democratically managed. Can the tensions and energies created on the local scale be harnessed to address larger macroeconomic imbalances? The history of the New Deal’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation offers a starting point with which to think through these dynamics.
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