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The Foundry Theatre
140-142 2nd Ave, Suite 405
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777 - 1444

Money Talks 2003

The Economy for Dummies


February 2003 - March 2003
A second series of dialogues exploring the basic principles of our current economy —local, national and global—and its impact on the fabric and evolution of our everyday lives.

Connected Ideas


Dialogue 1: A Deficit of WHAT?

Panelists:  Wayne Barrett, Bonnie Brower & James Parrott
Moderated by Seth Ackerman

Dean Baker, Money Talks 2003:  “We have an economy in the US right now in which the busboys, when they break the dishes, get fired. The truck drivers, when they’re in an accident, get fired. People working normal jobs are held accountable.  But people who control billions of dollars, make huge decisions, and there is no accountability. They could fuck up as big as you could imagine, without accountability.”

Using reportage from that week’s newspapers, this roundtable began to unpack the enormous budget crisis we were facing both at the state and city levels.  Much of the media was pointing to September 11th  — i.e. the economy tanked as a result of that catastrophic attack and now we have this budget crisis.  How specifically were these related?  What are some of the origins of this crisis?

One of the main factors of the current city and state budget crises is that during the boom years — late 1990s, the city and the state were on a tax-cutting rampage. Politicians could not resist cutting taxes; there was competition to outdo one another to cut taxes. Guiliani cut about 3 billion dollars in taxes, which is a good part of the remaining city budget deficit for the next year.” – James Parrot

Bios as of 2/2003

James Parrott, Deputy Director and Chief Economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute, which is one of the leading budget analysis think tanks in the state and the city. Parrott also served as Chief Economist/Director of the Bureau of Fiscal and Economic Analysis for the Office of the State Deputy Comptroller for New York City (OSDC) and was the Chief Economist for the City of New York’s economic policy office under Mayor David N. Dinkins.

Wayne Barrett has been an investigative reporter at the Village Voice, specializing in state and city politics for 23 years, and a senior editor for the last decade.  His latest book, RUDY: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani, completes a trilogy that covers the politics of New York in the final quarter of the 20th century.  More recently,  Barrett has written about Giuliani’s racial politics as mayor alongside other ethics issues regarding City Hall.  In 1990, Barrett won the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Award and the News Analysis Award of the Silurian Society, an association of New York City journalists.  Other awards include certificates of merit in 1994 and 1999 for Best News Reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists (NYC Chapter) and recognition from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies in 1999 for Best Political Column/Commentary.  Barrett lives with his family in Brooklyn.

Bonnie Brower, a lifelong New Yorker, is the Executive Director of City Project, which builds advocacy, policy and organizing work towards greater economic, racial and budget justice.  Brower was a founder of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), where she served as its Executive Director for 10 years, organizing for the preservation and creation of  permanent affordable housing for low and moderate income New Yorkers.

Dialogue 2: The National Economic Bubble

Panelists:  Dean Baker & Doug Henwood
Moderated by Seth Ackerman

Audience Question: “The spending keeps going and people are borrowing,  people used to have one credit card, now people have ten credit cards, and I can walk into a bank and walk out with $7,000 worth of credit and I earn nothing.  So why is that?
Seth: Credit cards are, currently, the single most profitable business that the financial sector has … followed closely by the housing market.”

Seth Ackerman: “So first I guess I ought to welcome our speakers. On my left is Dean Baker,  the Co-Director of the Center for Economic & Policy Research in Washington – perhaps the best think-tank churning out studies, commentary and analysis on the economy in Washington.  And on my right is Doug Henwood, who is the founder, editor, publisher, layout designer, and so on for Left Business Observer, which is a fortnightly newsletter on economics, politics, and more.”

Roundtable 3: The Global Marketplace

Panelists:  Doug Henwood, Njoki Njoroge Njehu & Analia Penchaszadeh
Moderated by Seth Ackerman

“When America sneezes, everybody catches a cold.”   How does the US economy impact the world economy, historically and currently?  What has the effect of the US’s current recession been on the rest of the world, particularly, what has been happening with developing countries?

Bios as of 3/2003

Doug Henwood is the founder, editor and publisher of Left Business Observer. Besides editing LBO, Henwood is a contributing editor of The Nation and hosts a radio weekly program on WBAI (New York). His book Wall Street was published by Verso in June 1997. His social atlas of the U.S. (in the Pluto atlas series), The State of the USA, was published by Simon & Schuster in the fall of 1994. His latest effort, After the New Economy, will appear in early 2003.

Njoki Njoroge Njehu is a Kenyan national who lives in the US.  She is the Director of  50 Years Is Enough, a network of of over 200 U.S. grassroots and policy organizations dedicated to the profound transformation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Njehu serves on the board of the Quixote Center and on the Advisory Committees of the Campaign for Labor Rights and ACERCA. She is a member of the International Coordinating Committee of the World Social Forum, the Africa Social Forum, and a volunteer in various capacities, especially fundraising in support of groups in the Global South. Her responsibilities include media work, fundraising, and being the lead spokesperson for the Network worldwide.

Analia Penchaszadeh is the Associate Director for Jobs with Justice in Washington, D.C.  Before joining the JWJ staff in 2001, Analia was Director for Community Health and Environment at El Puente, a community-based organization in North Brooklyn, NYC where she oversaw programs related to community gardening, toxics, and community-based epidemiology, working with community members to research and publish a peer-reviewed article on asthma in the American Journal of Public Health. Analia also volunteered with Sista II Sista, a Freedom School for Young Women of Color. She has a Master’s in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Seth Ackerman is a contributing editor to FAIR. His analysis of media coverage of the Rambouillet treaty earned him a Project Censored award. Ackerman has also written for In These Times, the Washington Times and The Nation and Harper’s Magazines. He has been a guest on the BBC and the CBC, among other outlets.