Professors discuss factors of national economic crisis


UNF hosted an economic panel Feb. 19 concerning the state of the U.S. economy and how President Barack Obama’s policies will affect the markets.

The panel, “Our Economic Challenges: What Can the New President Do?,” consisted of three UNF professors and was sponsored by the UNF American Democracy Project. There was no consensus on how to fix the economy among the panelists, yet all agreed the future outlook for the economy was bleak.

Paul Mason, chairman of the economics and geography department; Dr. David Jaffee, assistant vice president for undergraduate studies and sociology professor; and Sidney Rosenburg, real estate professor for the department of accounting and finance sat on the panel while Pieter de Jong, assistant professor of finance moderated the event.

Mason described the past three years as the good: 2006, the bad: middle 2008, and the ugly: late 2008.  He also said he favored the initial infusion of money, but what’s going on now is way too much.

To describe the economic stimulus package, Mason presented a picture of hogs and said the package was nothing but pork.

Then to describe what Obama plans to do for the economy, Mason held up a blank sheet of paper
and garnered a few laughs from the audience, mostly made up of students.

But Jaffee attributed the current economic conditions to mismanaged corporations. Corporate profits increased 107 percent from 1990 to 2005, and average chief executive’s pay was up 298 percent. The average worker pay was up 4.3 percent, and the value of the minimum wage was down 9.8 percent during this same time period.

The economic crisis is also affecting the automobile industry.

The auto bailout is essential to the American economy because of so many American workers in the field and related fields, Jaffee said.

He suggested the president could do something by temporarily nationalizing the banks, cleaning them up and sending them back to the private sector, and he denied it was a socialist idea.

This comment raised the ire of Mason, which was quite visible to the crowd.

There will be more stimulus packages to come before the midterm elections. Jaffee commented we have only seen the beginning, and this is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Rosenburg, who sat in the middle, did not get involved with Mason and Jaffee’s back-and-forth but said this crisis is taking a lot of money out of education while tuition is going up and courses are being cut amid a faculty hiring freeze.

He also criticized appraisers who were responsible for valuing the homes too high. Banks wanted the highest appraisal so they used the appraiser that would give it to them.

Housing is just finally starting to drop back down to normal figures, and the real estate market is recovering, Rosenberg said.

Jong said the unemployment rate is a key indicator, and as soon as it drops backs to normal, the crisis will be finished.

E-mail Josh Gore at [email protected]