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Michael Zweig
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October 17, 2008

The week after governments across the world announced major interventions in their economies saw wild gyrations in stocks, but little movement in credit markets, a more telling indicator of economic health. Banks admitted mid-week that the centerpiece of the new plan, injecting capital directly into large banks to encourage lending, is unlikely to make them start lending. The question, according to prominent economists, is no longer whether the U.S. and other major economies are headed into recessions, but how long and deep the downturn will be.

Michael Zweig joins Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL to shift the focus from Wall Street to the people who will be most hurt by a protracted recession, the everyday workers who struggled to make ends meet even in fatter times. As the director of the Center for Study of Working Class Life, Prof. Zweig recently released a report outlining policies he believes will aid these workers and benefit the overall economy. He described who these "distressed workers" were in a recent op-ed for Reuters:

They are cashiers, home health care workers, truck drivers, janitors, retail salespeople, secretaries, and many other people we see and rely on every day. They are people whose income is so low they cannot rise above the lowest twenty-five percent of housing stock for a family of their size in the community where they live without spending more than the government standard of thirty percent of income for housing. In short, they are over sixty million people in nearly twenty-three million households with eighteen million kids who can't afford to pay for the basic necessities of housing, food, medical care, and transportation.

>>Read the full report, "Economic Stimulus and Economically Distressed Workers," by Michael Zweig, Junyi Zhu, and Daniel Wolman

Michael Zweig

Michael Zweig is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Study of Working Class Life at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he has received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. His most recent books are WHAT'S CLASS GOT TO DO WITH IT? AMERICAN SOCIETY IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (2004) and THE WORKING CLASS MAJORITY: AMERICA'S BEST KEPT SECRET (2000). He was executive producer and co-writer of the documentary MEETING FACE TO FACE: THE IRAQ-U.S.LABOR SOLIDARITY TOUR (Center for Study of Working Class Life, 2006).

Professor Zweig received his PhD in economics in 1967 from the University of Michigan where, as an undergraduate, he was a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and as a graduate student helped found the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE).

Zweig has a long history of social activism combined with scholarly work and has published widely in professional and general circulation journals, including THE AMERICAN ECONOMIC REVIEW, THE AMERICAN ECONOMIST, THE REVIEW OF BLACK POLITICAL ECONOMY, THE REVIEW OF RADICAL POLITICAL ECONOMICS, and TIKKUN. His earlier books include RELIGION AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE and THE IDEA OF A WORLD UNIVERSITY.

Professor Zweig is an elected officer of his union, United University Professions (Local 2190, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO), representing 29,000 faculty and professional staff throughout SUNY; has served two terms on its state executive board; and represents UUP on the national steering committee of U.S. Labor Against the War. He lives with his wife in New York City and on the North Fork of eastern Long Island, where he has been named "Citizen of the Year" by The Suffolk Times for his writing and community organizing around issues of planning, zoning, and land use.

Published October 17, 2008.

Guest photo by Robin Holland

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References and Reading:
Michael Zweig

Center for Study of Working Class Life, Stony Brook University

Official Web site for documentary produced and co-written by Prof. Zweig.

"The War and the Working Class"
by Michael Zweig, THE NATION, March 13, 2008.

Watch Bill Moyers interview with Prof. Zweig four years ago.

"Working Class Majority?" on NOW WITH BILL MOYERS
Explore some of the numbers about workers and unions in the United States.

The Financial Crisis
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO blog and podcast covering financial news.

"Banks Fail, and So Can Bailouts "
By Floyd Norris, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 16, 2008.

"In Downturn, Families Strain to Pay Tuition "
By Jonathan D. Glater, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 16, 2008.

"The Monster That Ate Wall Street "
An article on the origins of 'credit default swaps.' By Matthew Philips, NEWSWEEK, October 6, 2008.

"Fed Announces Plan to Buy Short-Term Debt "
By Edmund L. Andrews and Michael M. Grynbaum, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 7, 2008.

"Fed Gives A.I.G. $37.8 Billion Loan "
By Barry Meier, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 8, 2008.

"Central Banks Coordinate Global Cut in Interest Rates "
By Carter Dougherty and Edmund L. Andrews, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 8, 2008.

"Paulson Says U.S. to Use All `Authorities' in Crisis "
By Simon Kennedy and Rebecca Christie, BLOOMBERG.COM, October 8, 2008.

NEW YORK TIMES Topics: Credit Crisis - Bailout Plan

FRONTLINE: The Long Demise of Glass-Steagall

"Lehman's Demise Triggered Cash Crunch Around Globe"
By Carrick Mollenkamp and Mark Whitehouse in London, Jon Hilsenrath in Washington and Ianthe Jeanne Dugan in New York, the WALL STREET JOURNAL, SEPTEMBER 29, 2008.

"As Credit Crisis Spiraled, Alarm Led to Action, "
By Joe Nocera, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 1, 2008.

"Rescue's Supporters Failed to Connect With Public "
By John D. Mckinnon and Sarah Lueck, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, October 1, 2008.

Interactive Map of House votes
This NEW YORK TIMES graphic illustrates who voted yes and no on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

"How bailout deal will impact next president"
By Gail Russell Chaddock, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, September 28, 2008.

Charlie Rose interviews Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett joined Charlie Rose October 1, 2008, to make the case for a bailout.

Published October 17, 2008

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