Four years ago, the world economy faced a historic shutdown as COVID-19 began spreading across the globe. Families already living in precarity stood on the edge of financial collapse in the spring of 2020 as the lockdowns led to layoffs or forced “essential workers” to find childcare for kids sent home from school.
Then, something miraculous happened. The United States government stepped in and began sending direct payments and expanded unemployment checks to Americans all over the country. Far from falling deeper into debt, many people actually paid off debts and found some measure of financial stability. That story holds many lessons, which Scott Fulford writes about in his new book The Pandemic Paradox: How the COVID Crisis Made Americans More Financially Secure. Fulford is a senior economist at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and has led the development of the bureau’s “Making Ends Meet” survey sent annually since 2019 that asks questions about real and perceived financial challenges facing ordinary American families. He spoke with YES! Senior Editor Sonali Kolhatkar on YES Presents: Rising Up With Sonali about his new book.
Sonali Kolhatkar joined YES! in summer 2021, building on a long and decorated career in broadcast and print journalism. She is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and host and creator of YES! Presents: Rising Up with Sonali, a nationally syndicated television and radio program airing on Free Speech TV and dozens of independent and community radio stations. She is also Senior Correspondent with the Independent Media Institute’s Economy for All project where she writes a weekly column. She is the author of Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (2023) and Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence (2005). Her forthcoming book is called Talking About Abolition (Seven Stories Press, 2025). Sonali is co-director of the nonprofit group, Afghan Women’s Mission which she helped to co-found in 2000. She has a Master’s in Astronomy from the University of Hawai’i, and two undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. Sonali reflects on “My Journey From Astrophysicist to Radio Host” in her 2014 TEDx talk of the same name.