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Racism Impoverishes the Whole Economy – The New York Times

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Discrimination hurts just about everyone, not only its direct victims.

New research shows that while the immediate targets of racism are unquestionably hurt the most, discrimination inflicts a staggering cost on the entire economy, reducing the wealth and income of millions of people, including many who do not customarily view themselves as victims.

The pernicious effects of discrimination on the wages and educational attainment of its direct targets are being freshly documented in inventive ways by scholarship. From the lost wages of African-Americans because of President Woodrow Wilson’s segregation of the Civil Service, to the losses suffered by Black and Hispanic students because of California’s ban on affirmative action, to the scarcity of Black girls in higher-level high school math courses, the scope of the toll continues to grow.

But farther-reaching effects of systemic racism may be less well understood. Economists are increasingly considering the cost of racially based misallocation of talent to everyone in the economy.

My own research demonstrates, for example, how hate-related violence can reduce the level and long-term growth of the U.S. economy. Using patents as a proxy for invention and innovation, I calculated how many were never issued because of the violence — riots, lynchings and Jim Crow laws — to which African Americans were subjected between 1870 and 1940.

The loss was considerable: The patents that African-Americans could have been expected to receive, given equal opportunity, would have roughly equaled the total for a medium-size European country during that time.

Those enormous creative losses can be expected to have had a direct effect on business investment and therefore on total economic activity and growth.

Other economists are beginning to estimate harm to the economy caused by racism in broad ways.

An important principle suggests that the person who can produce a product or service at a lower opportunity cost than his or her peers has a comparative advantage in that activity. Recent research calculates the effects of the discriminatory practice of placing highly skilled African-American workers, who might have flourished as, say, doctors, into lower-skilled occupations where they had no comparative advantage. Such practices 50 years ago — which linger, to a lesser extent, today — have cost the economy up to 40 percent of aggregate productivity and output today.

Similarly, other research estimates that aggregate economic output would have been $16 trillion higher since 2000 if racial gaps had been closed. To put that total in context, the gross domestic product of the United States in 2019 was $21.4 trillion. The researchers estimate that economic activity could be $5 trillion higher over the next five years if equal opportunity is achieved.

Right now, if more women and African-Americans were participating in the technical innovation that leads to patents, the economist Yanyan Yang and I calculate that G.D.P. per capita could be 0.6 to 4.4 percent higher. That is, it would be between $58,841 to $61,064 per person compared with $58,490 per person in 2019.

This entire line of research suggests that organizations — companies, laboratories, colleges and universities — are leaving colossal sums of money on the table by not maximizing talent and living standards for all Americans.

I have thought and written a lot about remedies. Here are a few ideas aimed at addressing discrimination in the innovation economy. First, we need more training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), like the extensive and highly successful program once sponsored by Bell Labs to encourage participation in these fields by women and underrepresented minorities

STEM fields should not be the sole target, however, because the innovation economy encompasses more than this narrow set of subjects. Two of the last three people I’ve talked to at tech firms have a B.A. in international relations and a Ph.D. in political science. Clearly, problem-solving skills matter, but these skills are not unique to the STEM majors.

Second, there is substantial evidence of systemic racism in education, which needs to be addressed. Research shows that professors are less likely to respond to email inquiries about graduate study from Black, Hispanic and female students than from people who are discernibly white and male. A system of incentives — and penalties — could hold those responsible accountable at every level of the education and training process.

At the invention stage, such as at corporate, government and university labs, my research shows that mixed-gender teams are more prolific than those whose members are all female or male. And a large body of literature has documented the positive effects of diversity in teams. Managers at each level should be held responsible for being good stewards of the resources of their companies and promoting diverse teams and behavior and, therefore, better outcomes.

When invention is commercialized and companies sell shares to the public, the wealth gaps are stark. Seven of the world’s 10 richest people on the Forbes list are associated with tech companies that commercialize inventions. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are in the top five. None among the top 10 (or 50) is Black.

The statistics for venture capital funding are striking. In 2014, less than 1 percent of venture capital funding went to businesses founded by African-American women, and in 2015, only 2 percent of all venture capitalists were African-American.

A number of worthwhile recommendations have been made to address the lack of diversity at the commercialization stage of innovation. These include:

  • Enhancing mentoring opportunities through programs such as those of the Small Business Administration.

  • Seeking and recruiting founders to invest in places like Atlanta, and not exclusively in Silicon Valley.

  • Addressing systemic racism at every level of management and within venture capital firms.

  • Diversifying corporate boards so that senior leadership will be held accountable for diversity and workplace climate. (California has done this with women on the boards of public companies.)

The Kapor Center, a think tank that promotes participation by underrepresented minorities in tech fields and education, has proposed noteworthy remedies at many stages, including at the pre-college level.

The social compact most societies have with their governments is that standards of living will rise continually and that each successive generation will be better off than preceding ones. We are robbing countless people of higher standards of living and well-being when we allow racial discrimination to flourish from generation to generation.

Lisa D. Cook, a professor of economics at Michigan State University, is a member of the Biden-Harris transition team.

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China’s Li Sees Economy Returning to ‘Proper’ Range Next Year – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The Canadian Press

Best Buy reports 3Q results that exceed Wall Street views

NEW YORK — Best Buy Co. reported fiscal third-quarter results that blew through analysts’ expectations as the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer enjoyed surging demand for items like home theatre and appliances that help people learn, cook, work and connect in their homes during the pandemic.
The Richfield, Minnesota-based retailer, said that third-quarter profits rose 33% while sales were up 21%. Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 23%, while online sales in the U.S. surged 174%.
Still, shares fell 5% in Tuesday morning trading as Best Buy warned that sales could slow down during the current quarter as the number of virus cases surge.
“As we start the fourth quarter, the demand for the products and services we sell remains at elevated levels, but similar to last quarter, it continues to be difficult for us to predict how sustainable these trends will be,” Matthew Bilunas, Best Buy’s chief financial officer, told analysts during the call. “In fact, we are seeing COVID cases surge throughout the U.S. and Canada at a time of significant holiday volume through our stores, online and supply chain. “
Bilunas also noted other factors such as potential government stimulus, the risk of continued high employment and the availability of inventory like computers to match customer demand.
Best Buy joins big box stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Lowe’s in reporting strong fiscal results. Unlike mall-based stores and other businesses that sell non-essentials, big box retailers were allowed to stay open during the lockdown in the spring and have all seen their dominance increase as consumers focus on necessities and home-related activities.
Before the pandemic, Best Buy had expanded its services to such options as at-home consulting and same-day delivery. It also sped up its online shipping. But the pandemic has forced Best Buy to adjust its operations and launch new shopping experiences that provide more convenience and safety for customers.
Early fall, Best Buy began using 250 of its stores as fast-shipping hubs for online orders. It’s now adding 90 more locations during the holiday period. It says its goal is to have all 340 stores ship more than 70% of its ship-from-store units during the holiday quarter. It’s also testing new store formats as it transforms locations to fulfilment hubs.
For example, in four Minneapolis locations, Best Buy reduced its square footage for shopping to 15,000 square feet from an average of 27,000. The product assortment on the sales floor will still include the primary categories these locations featured before the remodel, but instead the focus will be on the most popular items, the retailer said. The remodels will result in increased space for staging product for in-store pickup and to help ship-from-store transactions, as well as provide the ability to stage inventory for items that may not be on the sales floor.
Best Buy reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $391 million, or $1.48 per share, compared with $293 million, or $1.10 per share, in the year-ago period. Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs and amortization costs, were $2.06 per share.
The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.76 per share.
The consumer electronics retailer posted revenue of $11.85 billion in the period, also beating Street forecasts. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $11.02 billion.
Shares fell $6.69 to $1150 in late morning trading. Shares have increased 39% since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 index has increased 11%. The stock has increased 69% in the last 12 months.
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Elements of this story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on BBY at https://www.zacks.com/ap/BBY

Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press

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German economy grew by 8.5% in third quarter, but recession fears grow – The Guardian

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s gross domestic product grew by a record 8.5% in the third quarter as Europe’s largest economy partly recovered from an unprecedented plunge caused by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring, the statistics office said on Tuesday.

The stronger-than expected rebound was mainly driven by higher household spending and soaring exports, the office said.

“This enabled the German economy to make up for a large part of the massive decline in gross domestic product caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the second quarter of 2020,” it added.

The reading marked an upward revision to an earlier flash estimate of 8.2% growth, and followed a 9.8% plunge in the second quarter.

The outlook is clouded by a second wave of coronavirus infections and a partial lockdown to slow the spread of the disease. Restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues have been closed since Nov. 2, but shops and schools remain open.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional state premiers are planning to extend the “lockdown-light” on Wednesday until Dec. 20, according to a draft prepared for their meeting.

A contraction in the service sector is expected to weigh heavily on gross domestic product in the fourth quarter, while lockdown measures in other countries are likely to hit export-oriented manufacturers as well.

DIW economist Claus Michelsen said a decline in economic output was therefore on the cards, with initial estimates indicating a GDP drop of around 1% in the final quarter.

“Germany and many important trading partners are likely to slide back into recession,” Michelsen said.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Rene Wagner; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and EKevin Liffey)

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No-deal Brexit would be worse for the UK economy than Covid-19, says Bank of England governor – CNN

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“I think the long-term effects … would be larger than the long-term effects of Covid,” Bailey said Monday in response to a question from a lawmaker on what would happen if the UK government does not complete a deal before the December 31 deadline.
“It takes a much longer period of time for what I call the real side of the economy to adjust to the change in openness and to the change in profile in trade,” Bailey added in testimony before parliament’s Treasury committee.
The United Kingdom left the European Union in January. But the £670 billion ($895 billion) trade relationship has been largely unaffected so far because of a transition period that expires at the end of this year. Negotiators have been trying to hammer out a deal that will allow for tariff-free trade to continue. But progress has been slow, and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned on Monday that “fundamental differences” still need to be resolved.
UK business groups are pushing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to secure a deal, saying that many companies have been stretched to the breaking point by the coronavirus and another round of lockdowns. Without an EU deal, UK-based firms face hefty tariffs, quotas and other barriers to doing business with the country’s biggest export market starting on January 1.
The Bank of England forecast earlier this month that the UK economy will shrink by 11% in 2020. Economists are worried about “scarring” caused by coronavirus, but Bailey said on Monday that he was optimistic about the economy’s ability to recover relatively quickly from the pandemic.
A change in the terms of trade with the European Union would produce more lasting upheaval, he suggested, comparing that outcome with modeling the central bank did decades ago showing it would have taken the UK economy between 30 and 40 years to adjust if policymakers had decided to drop the British pound and switch to the euro.
The UK government and the Bank of England have unleashed hundreds of billions of pounds worth of stimulus to help cushion the blow to business and workers from the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the central bank said it would increase its purchases of UK government bonds by £150 billion ($195 billion) to £875 billion ($1.1 trillion), and finance minister Rishi Sunak extended a furlough program through March 2021. The government will pay 80% of the wages of employees of businesses forced to close, capped at £2,500 ($3,270) per month.
Sunak said on Sunday that the economic situation in the country presents “a very difficult picture.”
“The economy is experiencing significant stress,” he told the BBC. “We’ve seen that particularly in the labor market, with people’s jobs. We know that three quarters of a million people have tragically already lost their jobs with forecasts of more to come. Borrowing … is at record peacetime levels and more stress to come.”
Sunak will deliver an update on the economic situation on Wednesday and sketch out his plans for borrowing and spending after the pandemic.

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