To assert that the global COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every part of our daily lives in 2020 would be an understatement. As the one-year anniversary of the virus’s outbreak approaches, it is becoming clear that some adaptations and trends necessitated by the pandemic are likely to have lasting impacts. For instance, the rise in flexible and home-based working arrangements has forced the commercial real estate market to pivot. And the expansion of voting methods, which resulted in a record turnout in the 2020 US presidential election, has fundamentally changed electoral politics.
The private prison divestment movement has gathered great momentum since our June 2019 webinar, “Private Prison Divestment—Justice for Refugees and Migrants”. During that event, we provided an overview of the movement’s history and an update on current developments, mainly related to the family separation crisis at the US and Mexico border. In June, only two of the six major banks lending to the private prison industry had announced their intent to halt financing, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Over the subsequent six months, US Bank, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third, PNC, and Barclays followed suit. By the end of 2019, the two major private prison companies, CoreCivic and GEO Group, were estimated to face an 87% financing gap as a result of this withdrawal of funds from their primary lenders.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): who isn’t used to hearing about the ups and downs of this metric, commonly understood as the most important indicator of economic health? This statistic—the monetary value of finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders over a specific period—and the pursuit of its growth is embedded at the center of mainstream economic theory. But the question of whether GDP is still a meaningful metric in a world of persistent income inequality, intractable environmental challenges, and human exploitation is at the heart of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist. Despite the title, this book offers a thoughtful, practical advice that any concerned citizen can use.
This article is highlighted as part of the 100th issue special, celebrating twenty-five years of quarterly newsletters.
Just one year after this story was published, the crisis at the Mexico border has intensified. The federal government is detaining thousands of people—including large numbers of unaccompanied children—in migrant detention camps under conditions that visiting doctors have described as torture. Natural Investments advisers continue to educate investors and encourage divestment from private prison corporations contracted by the federal government to detain people.
Few stories dominated headlines this summer like the unfolding of the family separation debacle happening at the U.S.-Mexico border. As civil and political unrest worsened in some Latin American countries, the border saw a dramatic increase of families seeking asylum. Over the spring and early summer, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) forcibly separated more than 3,000 children from their parents, per the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration, and imprisoned them in detention centers across the country; in combination with the surge in unaccompanied children crossing the border, the number of children in U.S. detention centers has now ballooned to more than 13,000.
News reports revealed images of solitary children, huddled under thin aluminum blankets and wailing in the cages of detention centers run by two private companies: GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (referred to as “CoreCivic”); both manage private prisons as well as ICE detention centers. Immigrant children held in facilities run by these two companies have complained about