The coronavirus pandemic has exposed deep structural flaws in the design and operation of the U.S. economic and political systems. At the same time, it presents a rare opportunity for innovative rethinking and remaking of both our private markets and our public institutions, so that they better serve the needs of the American people.
A National Investment Authority (NIA) could be the institutional platform for pursuing this goal. The NIA would mobilize private capital to rebuild America’s obsolete public infrastructure. It would do this by acting directly inside financial markets—through a lending subsidiary and a separate venture capital arm. The NIA would identify infrastructure projects important to the country’s long-term stability and growth, and create mechanisms to align the individual incentives of private investors with the social imperatives of inclusive and sustainable long-term development.
The NIA proposal draws on the long-standing American tradition of hybrid public-private finance. It is the 21st-century update of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), created by Herbert Hoover and later successfully used by Franklin Roosevelt to finance the nation’s epic recovery from the Great Depression.