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“Crisis in the Economy” Through a Multidisciplinary Lens

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On Wednesday, October 8th, the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences hosted a panel discussion to help members of the Georgia State community grasp an understanding of the current events shaping our economic situation.  Panelists included scholars from the Departments of Economics, Political Science, and History with Dr. William Downs, Political Science Department Chairman, as the moderator.  Dr. Carter Doyle, Assistant Professor of Economics, discussed how the crisis came to fruition through the analysis of the housing and real estate market.  Essentially, relaxed lending standards led to a mass number of people acquiring mortgages on homes that they might not necessarily be able to afford, while at the same time housing prices fell more than expected causing many people to default on their mortgage payments.  Assistant Professor of Political Science, Dr. Jeffrey Lazarus, focused his discussion on the Democratic and Republican parties and how each party views the crisis and where they place the blame as well as how this will affect the upcoming election.  Democrats blame deregulation for the crisis, while Republicans latched on to the failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Dr. Michelle Brattain used her knowledge of historical events to question how this crisis affects ordinary people and how it compares to the Great Depression.  She also explained how it is difficult to compare the economies of the past when savings dominated American’s economic habits to today’s primarily consumption-driven society.  After a discussion of the key issues, the floor was opened to questions from students, faculty members, and guests.  The Q&A session covered a wide range of issues and concerns such as why there needs to be government intervention, the set-up of the political system, gender and race issues, the effect on student loans and 401K plans, and possible effects and perspectives of the international community.  Overall, useful insight and knowledge into the current economic situation was provided by the three panelists and a more complete picture of the “Crisis in the Economy” was painted for the students, staff, and faculty at Georgia State University.