Michael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a leading visionary on community economics. He’s Director of Local Economy Programs for Neighborhood Associates Corporation, and an Adjunct Professor at Bard Business School in New York City. He is also a Senior Researcher for Council Fire and Local Analytics, where he performed economic-development analyses for states, local governments, and businesses around North America.
The big idea: Americans agree on very little these days. But as local economies flatline and unemployment figures rival those of the Great Depression, red-state conservatives and blue-state progressives can agree on one critical point: Wall Street can no longer be trusted.
According to the Federal Reserve, Americans have $56.5 trillion locked away in Wall Street’s stocks, bonds, pension funds, and more. Yet Main Street—not Wall Street—is what powers 60 to 80 percent of the U.S. economy. These local businesses generate two to four times more jobs than Wall Street’s lauded corporate behemoths. They spend more of their money locally, pay local taxes, hire local people, and create far-reaching social returns for your community.
In a well-functioning investment marketplace, 60 to 80 percent of your money should be supporting 60 to 80 percent of the economy. Today, almost none is.