Nov 08 2007
216 Hart Senate Office Building - 10:00 am
With such a significant number of the population behind bars, expenditures associated with the prison system have skyrocketed. According to the Urban Institute, “the social and economic costs to the nation are enormous.” With 2.25 million people incarcerated in approximately five thousand prisons and jails, the combined expenditures of local governments, state governments, and the federal government for law enforcement and corrections personnel totals over $200 billion.
The JEC examined why the
Washington D.C. - Until recently, most mainstream economic experts—including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke—have suggested that the widespread and serious problems in the subprime mortgage market, while a problem for the holders of subprime borrowers and their communities, would have a minimal impact on the larger American economy. However, a number of recent economic developments—including this summer’s credit crises in global financial markets, driven almost entirely by fears about the collapsing American subprime mortgage market, the accelerating slump in housing markets across the country, and the startling August jobs report—have made it increasingly clear that the economic spillover from the subprime mortgage meltdown is unlikely to be contained to one sector of the economy.
The Joint Economic Committee, investigated the economic threat that the subprime mortgage mess poses to the broader economy, and helped us learn more about the kind and size of economic problems this crisis may produce going forward.
Over the last year,
The JEC examined the destructive impact of the foreclosure boom on
The JEC examined the impacts of consolidation in the oil and gas industry on competition, gasoline prices, and consumers’ energy choices. Specifically, the Committee investigated whether oil industry mergers and increased market concentration have enabled firms to raise their prices above competitive levels and strategically withhold capacity to keep prices high; and investigated whether firms are preventing the entry of cheaper fuel alternatives for consumers at the pump.
The JEC examined the growing economic impact of elder care on families, businesses, and the broader economy. As the 77 million baby boomers approach retirement and as more women enter the workforce, these problems are only expected to increase. The number of aging parents per worker between the ages of 45 and 54 is expected to double by 2035.
This was the first Congressional appearance for Chairman Bernanke after the March 21 FOMC statement, which showed greater uncertainty about the future direction of the economy and Fed policy than previous statements but without specifically mentioning the subprime mortgage market. As the subprime loan market continues its downward spiral, trade deficits continue to be large and unsustainable and other economic news breaks, Sen. Schumer and the JEC members asked Chairman Bernanke for his views and guidance on the economic outlook.
The JEC examined federal policy solutions, such as job training and social insurance reform, that will help us meet the challenges of this serious problem. The landmark JEC hearing marked the first significant effort by the committee to address the economic status of African Americans since 1990 and it came on the eve of the release of new employment figures by the federal government. As of January 2007, the unemployment rate for African American men age 20 and older is 7.5%.