Tuesday, October 7, 2008

UGA Terry College of Business Faculty Panel to Offer Opinions on “What Just Happened?” in Oct. 8 Forum on the Financial Crisis

A panel of experts from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business will analyze the financial crisis at a public forum titled “What Just Happened?” It is set for Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 3:30 p.m. in room 248 of the Miller Learning Center.

Christopher M. Cornwell, who heads Terry’s Economics Department, will serve as moderator. Panelists include James B. Kau, who holds a Terry Chair of Business Administration in real estate; economics professor William D. Lastrapes; and finance professor Christopher Stivers.

The panelists will spend about 30 minutes sharing their views on what precipitated the Wall Street crisis, the congressional response and what the future may hold. The forum will conclude with panelists fielding questions from the audience for 30 minutes.

“This is something historic,” said Cornwell of the recent Wall Street collapse, “and some of Terry’s experts are going to step up and try to explain what is going on here.”

Cornwell first approached Terry College Dean Robert T. Sumichrast about holding a public forum as the financial crisis was unfolding. “If this was just the stock market dropping by 7 percent, we wouldn’t be doing this,” said Cornwell. “But when people read headlines like ‘Liquidity Crisis’ and ‘Credit Crunch,’ it creates fears that there is no money out there for businesses to borrow in order to continue operating. That’s what people are concerned about, and that’s what we need to talk about.”

Each panelist will begin his segment with an explanation of the causes of the financial crisis from his specific area of expertise, followed by a group discussion of the potential effects on the economy. Kau will examine the crisis from the perspective of real estate and mortgage finance. Lastrapes will focus on monetary policy and macroeconomics. Stivers will discuss the impact on financial markets. Their goal is to help the public gain a better understanding of the current economic situation from unbiased perspectives.

Cornwell added that more public discussion is needed right now to help people understand the real concerns and dispel irrational fears that may be spreading.

“We’ve never been down this path before – except in the Great Depression,” he said. “And, of course, to invoke the word ‘depression,’ which many people are doing, is scary. We’re not going to have another depression, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be severe consequences.”

By Matt Waldman
University of Georgia

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