Economist Takes on Global Debt Crisis in Classroom, Book, Blog

UW-Madison News – As the financial markets melted down last fall, UW-Madison economist Menzie Chinn says he was surprised not only by the depth of the economic downturn that set in, but also by the certainty of Monday-morning quarterbacking from observers of the government’s response to the crisis.

Menzie Chinn
Menzie Chinn

“It’s easy to criticize, but unless you’ve ever been in a situation like that, it must be very hard to really understand how big these choices are, how little one can be sure about what’s going on,” says Chinn, a professor of public affairs and economics at UW-Madison’s Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs and senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2000-01. “The data are incomplete, you’ve got all sorts of people bombarding you with different ideas, and picking out the right thing to do in the middle of a crisis is really hard.”

Still, in the classroom and through his work, Chinn is putting himself and his students inside the decision-making by taking a closer look at the credit crunch and the recession as they evolve. In a seminar on the policy response to what’s being called the “Great Recession,” a small group of graduate students are evaluating, in real-time, the effect of this year’s American Recovery Reinvestment Act on such indicators as employment and job creation, state budget gaps and gross domestic product.

Read the full article from University of Wisconsin-Madison News.