Friday, October 10, 2008

Georgia State Panelists Discuss Economic Crisis

In the midst of worries about the U.S. economy, Georgia State faculty members from various disciplines came together Wednesday to discuss the crisis and its impact on Americans.

“More than anything, it’s a crisis in confidence,” said Carter Doyle, visiting assistant professor of economics. “Fear is what’s driving this. Yes, things are bad, but the fear is greater than the reality.”

Michelle Brattain, associate chair of history, said that while most of the attention thus far has been on big business, it’s everyday Americans who are facing increasing worries about high gas, home heating and health care prices, unemployment, foreclosure and high debt.

“There’s a kind of populism and a kind of anger and frustration with Wall Street that I haven’t seen in a long time,” she said. “Working people in this country have to deal with economic crises on their own. They’re angry that Wall Street people have not taken on these kinds of responsibilities.”

Another consideration is this year’s election cycle. Jeffrey Lazarus, assistant professor of political science, said that although citizens are largely upset with the recently passed $700 billion bailout measure and candidates are doing a lot of political finger-pointing, it’s hard to pin the crisis on the government. Even so, he said, the Republican party will bear the brunt of voters’ anger.

“Absolutely there will be punishment at the polls,” Lazarus said.

All three panelists said that in the midst of trouble, there is still some opportunity. Americans are now monitoring financial institutions and government more stringently and may play a bigger role in shaping policy so that future generations can enjoy a more stable economy.

“The smallest silver lining, if we don’t get anything else, is in lessons learned,” Lazarus said. “How will we shape our financial and regulatory systems to prevent this from happening again?”

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