Business professors discuss state of economy in annual debate

    The College of William and Mary’s Mason School of Business hosted a town hall panel discussion on the economy Wednesday as part of a series of talks dubbed ‘Back to B-School.’

    The panel consisted of Business School professors Deborah Hewitt, John Boschen, John Merrick, and Law school professors Eric Kades and Richard Ash. The panelists discussed the current state of the United States economy and what the government must do to improve it.The discussion streamed live on the business school’s website. Among the topics discussed were monetary and fiscal policies, housing bubbles, financial stimulus, liquidation, debt, incentives and taxes.

    “[The panel] did a phenomenal job at taking such a complex issue and putting it into terms that everyone can understand,” Ryan Goodman ’14 said.

    Dean of the business school Harry Pulley, who introduced the panel, made clear that panelists and audience members were to keep away from politics and only discuss the economy. This, however, appeared to be difficult, as several of the panelists talked about recent decisions by President Obama’s administration, including the bank bailouts and the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill, which aims to eliminate federal bailouts.

    “This was a huge mistake by the Obama Administration,” Kades said. “The [financial reform] bill would have been effective at first … however, Wall Street has bought and paid for both political parties. I wish I had a happy note to finish on.”

    At one point in the discussion, Ash asked the panel what it would do to fix the problem if each had a magic wand that would make people listen. Among the possible solutions were increases in fiscal policy, figuring out how the economy actually works and cutting taxes.

    “We need to refocus the efforts of the government,” Hewitt answered. “The government is only about fifteen percent of our economy. People are the rest. We are the economy. The government needs to properly incentivize so that the private sector can grow. There needs to be more certainty in financial regulation.”

    Merrick stressed that what the government has been doing is not working, and that the country needs to take some time to figure out what we actually need to do to fix the economy.

    “No amount of stimulus can fix the problem. There’s a lot of balancing that needs to go on, this can’t be fixed overnight.” Merrick said. “We need to see what needs to be done to fix 2020. We need to figure out how the economy actually works, then we can work backwards to see what we can do to fix the current problem.”

    Pulley said another panel could be expected.

    “This is the third year having this panel discussion, and if this problem hasn’t turned around soon, which I suspect it won’t, we will be back next year.” he said.


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