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1 in 5 Ukrainians Forced to Seek Refuge as the Devastating Impacts of War Continue.
What are the Hidden Costs of Stasis in US Neighborhoods?
Here is what we will be getting into today:
A Nation in Crisis: Addressing the Humanitarian and Economic Fallout of the Conflict in Ukraine.
Stasis as a Subsidy: The Hidden Costs of Local Interests in Preventing Development.
Empowering Workers: The PRO Act and the Fight Against Corporate Power.
Let's Dive In!
Newsletter: Apricitas Economics
Title: Ukraine's War Economy, 1 Year In.
Here are the key highlights:
The war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on its economy, leading to the displacement of millions of people, an estimated 30% contraction in gross domestic product, and a drastic reduction in agricultural output. Despite direct foreign assistance, the economy continues to struggle due to ongoing attacks on civilian infrastructure, resulting in blackouts and other utility interruptions.
Since the conflict began, hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost or irreversibly changed and over 8 million Ukrainians have been forced from their homes. The UN estimates that these numbers are equivalent to 1/5 of the nation's pre-war population—one of the largest refugee crises in human history.
Agriculture has been one of the hardest hit sectors due to the war. The corn harvest fell by 49%, with wheat and sunflower production dropping 36% and 37%, respectively. Despite this sharp decline in output, Ukrainian agricultural exports—a critical source of food for many countries—have partially recovered thanks to an agreement between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the UN known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative. This agreement allowed previously locked-in maritime food cargo shipments out of Ukraine to resume and prevented a rapid rise in global food prices.
Unfortunately, other industries have not been as fortunate as agriculture due to ongoing attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure by Russia. Production of cast iron, steel, rolled steel, coke & refined petroleum products, chemicals, and rubber & plastic products have all fallen by at least 60%. As a result, imports have risen significantly as businesses are forced to turn away from domestic production for their needs. Companies' short-term growth expectations are now at their lowest level since 2021 due to blackouts caused by Russia’s efforts to damage civilian electricity infrastructure.
The war's economic pain is being borne primarily by Ukrainian citizens with 43% of households having completely exhausted their personal savings leaving many without sufficient financial support or access to basics like food or medicine. As such it is likely that Ukraine will remain dependent on foreign aid for much of its economic needs going forward
It is estimated that nearly 18 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian aid. Despite receiving considerable amounts of support from other nations, there is still a considerable gap between what is needed and what has been given. This lack of support is creating a dangerous situation for those living in Ukraine and it is essential that something be done soon to improve the situation.
One way to help alleviate some of the pressure on Ukraine would be to integrate Ukrainian refugees into European labor markets. This would be beneficial for both sides as it would provide employment opportunities for those refugees while also providing European countries with access to much-needed labor.
Additionally, if Ukraine’s military security can be improved, this could lead to increased economic security, further helping those living in the country. Unfortunately, one year into the war and Ukraine’s economic fortunes remain dependent on the decisions of its neighbors.
Title: The Build-Nothing Country.
Here are the key highlights:
America is facing a crisis in building the things it needs to prosper in the 21st century. Local interests are exploiting veto points to preserve their own interests, preventing progress. Environmental regulations are also being abused to prevent new construction. Supply chain issues and NIMBY opposition are preventing renewable energy projects from getting built. If America wants to achieve its goals for the 21st century, something must be done to overcome these challenges. It is time for local governments, legislators, and citizens to come together and find innovative solutions.
The United States has long hidden a secret subsidy in plain sight: stasis. This form of subsidy allows citizens to keep their neighborhoods and cities in exactly the form they're used to, but as with all subsidies it comes with a price tag attached. This price tag is one that Americans have been paying for decades - higher taxes, increased prices for businesses due to high land costs, higher rents, decreased wages due to a lack of housing near economic opportunity areas, lower productivity due to cities unable to grow big enough, and disinvestment when companies decide the US's obstacles to land development make it an unfavorable place for investment.
The costs have become increasingly clear in recent years as housing costs spiral out of control in cities with real economic opportunity, the energy transition falters, and manufacturing moves elsewhere. The US can no longer afford its “freeze-frame” approach which has been embraced since the 1970s. To ensure the future of our country and its middle class we must cut through the red tape that prevents development and prioritize national interests over local ones - even if this means changing our environment from what we are used to. It is time for America to build something instead of nothing. Only then will our once-mighty middle class be able to avoid sinking into poverty while someone else builds their future on our bones.
Title: Labor's Dual-Track Mind on Mergers.
Here are the key highlights:
The relationship between labor and antitrust is complex, as demonstrated by recent examples of labor leaders using antitrust to their advantage. For instance, the leader of the flight attendants union, Sara Nelson, supported the merger of JetBlue and Spirit Airlines, while the Communications Workers of America encouraged officials to approve Microsoft's takeover of Activision. While some unions have opposed mergers, others have used their political power to negotiate better wages and working conditions for their members.
The history of organized labor in America shows that unions have had to make difficult decisions when dealing with corporate power. In some cases, unions have traded short-term gains for consolidation, which is not an acceptable situation. An example of this is in 1997 when union leaders accepted the merger of Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, despite a third of Boeings workers being on strike at that time. In other cases, unions have used their power to negotiate beneficial deals, such as the unionization of A&P supermarket chain workers in the 1940s, which led to higher wages and better representation.
Passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would give workers more leverage against corporate power, making it easier for them to form unions. This act would help ensure that unions can make decisions that are truly beneficial for both their members and consumers without having to trade short-term gains for harmful consolidation. In a neoliberalism-dominated landscape where cutting deals is often seen as inevitable during waves of corporate consolidation, the PRO Act would empower working Americans and help balance the relationship between labor and corporate power.
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