An ongoing virtual forum exploring strategies to manage public assets and resources in service of a more just society, in the United States and across the world

Social Wealth Seminar


Together, the coronavirus crisis and mass uprisings against racist police violence have foregrounded questions of public finance and social service provision. Decades of austerity for schools, hospitals, and public benefits have coincided with growing investment in mechanisms of social control, aggravating inequality, precarization, and environmental degradation. To counteract these trends, we need a historically informed research and policy agenda that joins technical expertise around monetary policy, municipal budgeting, and the management of public assets to the pursuit of racial, social, and ecological justice.

JFI’s Social Wealth Seminar is a diverse, interdisciplinary space to foster collaboration at the point where public finance meets progressive social policy. We learn from scholars, policy officials, and advocates whose work speaks to questions including:

  • Municipal finance, public wealth, and racial inequality
  • Shared equity ownership and wider disbursement of returns to capital
  • Investment, divestment, and the democratic management of public assets
  • Just capitalization and investment strategies for social wealth funds at the national and subnational levels
  • Basic income, baby bonds, savings accounts and other cash/asset transfers
  • Public data ownership and the construction of a digital commons
  • Financial mechanisms to overcome fossil fuel dependency
  • Scaling cooperativism and collectivism, especially in the public sector

Sessions are held on Tuesdays, typically at 6pm ET, and run about an hour. Suggested readings and short bibliographies are circulated ahead of most meetings. Come with questions; we reserve much of our time for discussion.

The seminar is open to the public by RSVP. To join our mailing list (roughly one email per week), contact

Those interested in presenting should contact Paul Katz at

Artwork: Gold Mining, Cripple Creek, by Ernest Lawson.

Session 1

Naomi Zewde

Tuesday, July 7: Naomi Zewde (Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, City University of New York), “Inequalities in Wealth and Health: Things to Consider when Building a Generation”

View the session on Youtube here.

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Session 2

Yakov Feygin

Tuesday, July 21: Yakov Feygin (Associate Director, Future of Capitalism Program, Berggruen Institute), “Sovereign Wealth Funds and Public Wealth Building Institutions in the Context of the Global Dollar System.”

View the session on Youtube here.

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Session 3

Amanda Kass

Tuesday, August 4: Amanda Kass (Associate Director, Government Finance Research Center, University of Illinois at Chicago), “What Might Happen To Public Pensions In The Wake Of Covid-19?”

View the session on Youtube here.

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Session 4

Carla Santos Skandier

Tuesday, August 18: Carla Santos Skandier (Co-Manager, Climate & Energy Program, The Next System Project), “Non-Extractive Finance Mechanisms for a Just Recovery and Transition”

View the session on Youtube here.

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Session 5

Rahul Basu

Tuesday, September 1: Rahul Basu (Research Director of Goa Foundation, an environmental NGO in India), “The Mineral Wealth of Nations: Accounting for the Resource Curse”

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Session 6

Marcelo Medeiros

Tuesday, September 15: Marcelo Medeiros (Research Associate Scholar at Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, PIIRS), “Beyond Formal Workers: Expanding Social Protection in Latin America”

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Session 7

Jonathan Calenzani

Tuesday, October 13: Jonathan Calenzani (JFI Fellow and Senior Analyst, TP ICAP), “Bond Yields in an Era of Slow Growth”

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Session 8

Aja Brown

Tuesday, October 27: Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton, California, “The Compton Pledge: An Economic Resilience Strategy for Strengthening Community in Compton”

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Session 9

Steve Randy Waldman

Tuesday, November 10: Steve Randy Waldman, “Perspectives on Social Wealth Funds”

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