Before Congress decides on adding more funds to the existing stimulus programs, they should seriously discuss creating an “American Taxpayer Investment Fund”. This new fund will better connect taxpayers with American capitalism as it would enable people to benefit financially from its prosperity.
American companies- public and private- need funds to survive. Enabling US taxpayers to take part directly in a lending and an investment program will better ensure that the redistributive impact of stimulus programs will be more equitable than what happened in the past.
For example, after the Great Financial Crisis the Federal Reserve created a new monetary tool, a quantitative asset purchase program. The program’s intent was to ease financial conditions and provide stimulus to the economy. The program benefits were very uneven.
The Fed’s asset purchase program---which ballooned its balance sheet to $4.5 trillion from $800 billion prior to the crisis--clearly benefitted finance over the economy and had a very narrow group of winners: holders of financial (equity) assets, Wall Street and hedge funds.
Several years later Congress passed a fiscal stimulus program. The intent of the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act was to spur faster business investment and overall economic growth. But, instead the tax bill, which dramatically cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, triggered a record amount of stock buyback by large companies.
In 2018, for example, companies in the S&P 500 spent a record of $806 billion on stock buybacks, exceeding the prior record by over $200 billion set more a decade earlier. Here too, finance benefitted over the economy. The winners were holders of finance (equity) assets: Wall Street and hedge funds.
This past week the Federal Reserve announced a broad $2.3 trillion expansion of its lending and asset purchase program. Once again, finance benefits over the economy and the big winners are Wall Street and hedge funds.
An “American Taxpayer Investment Fund” would enable Main Street to benefit financially as it would broaden the redistributive impact of a federal stimulus program.
This new fund needs to be substantial, with the ability to add leverage. It would be managed by an independent set of experienced money managers, not Wall Street or hedge funds. The fund would need full transparency, such as regular monthly reports on holdings and trades.
The fund would require public oversight (not congressional) since it’s profit-driven. The fund would need the freedom to lend to private companies and take equity in public companies.
Congress would allocate new funds each year based on the number of new taxpayers. No withdrawals should be allowed for the first five years----except for retired taxpayers.
This new fund should be easy to establish. Instead of sending stimulus checks to people Congress can create an investment fund and allocate shares to every taxpayer based on adjusted gross income figures, with similar criteria that were used in the initial $2 trillion stimulus program. People will be informed annually on their holdings.
The goals of the investment fund are simple; use taxpayer funds to increase the number of “stakeholders” in America, reduce the role of the public sector in deciding the allocation of capital to the private sector, while also ensuring that the working class benefits directly from its prosperity.