Former International Monetary Fund official speaks at PSU

In the second installment of the Portland State Department of Economics’ seminar series this fall, Erik Offerdal will be presenting an explanation of the current economic crisis.

In the second installment of the Portland State Department of Economics’ seminar series this fall, Erik Offerdal will be presenting an explanation of the current economic crisis. The free and public lecture, titled “The Global Economic Crisis 2007–2009: Its Origins, The Incipient Recovery and the Perspective of the IMF [International Monetary Fund],” will be held in room 325 of Cramer Hall this Friday, Oct. 22.

According to Mary King, the economics professor who organizes the seminar series, Offerdal is a retired IMF officer who, earlier this year, contacted Randall Bluffstone, the chair of the economics department, offering to present a seminar. Interested in what Offerdal has to say, King accepted and incorporated him into the lecture series.

Offerdal will not be presenting his own research, but rather a perspective on what is and has been happening to our country—and the world—for the last three years. Offerdal will follow a rather traditional lecture format, including PowerPoint slides in his presentation and offering suggestions for further reading and research via e-mail to all interested parties.

For anyone on or near campus who feels as though they do not understand the causes and treatments (but especially the causes) of the current economic crisis, Offerdal’s presence Friday offers a unique opportunity to learn. In an effort to explain the big picture, Offerdal will surely break the effects of the crisis down to smaller, easier-to-handle roots, which he will then be able to explain succinctly. Potentially bewildering terminology like ‘collateralized debt obligations’ (CDOs) will be treated with care.

Another reason that this lecture will be a good beginner’s guide to the economic crisis now popularly referred to—depending on the speaker—as the Great Recession or the Credit Crunch, is that in a small room with a small audience, Offerdal will be available to answer questions. Not only will Offerdal have a clear narrative for the crisis, he will also be there to guide you through it.

For more advanced economics students, this lecture seems apt to provide a new take on the crisis’ story. There are three stand-out points of interest: Offerdal’s decision to date the crisis, which hopefully means that he has some interesting information to relate about 2007’s contributions to the late 2008 collapse as well as an upbeat outlook on the recession’s closure; Offerdal’s relationship with the IMF, as well as his decision to include the IMF’s perspective on the financial crisis as a major aspect of his lecture; and lastly, Offerdal’s stated interested in addressing the global economic crisis, which will likely lead to a frank discussion of national debts and monetary policy.

Of the seminars scheduled for this fall, this particular lecture seems to be most true to the ‘seminar’ spirit: a presentation that educates and rouses participation and discussion.

Because the content of Offerdal’s seminar is so pertinent and approachable, this lecture should not be missed by anyone who feels affected by the economic crisis and uninformed of what has and will happen as a direct cause or consequence.

Students, the current economic crisis may affect you most of all. Yes, it’s your parents who lost large portions of their retirement savings and it’s your teachers whose pensions are compromised, and yes, it’s your employer—not you—who’s really feeling the decline in consumer spending. Right now, you might even feel as though you’re benefiting from the crisis, what with student loans at a super-low 3.2% interest rate (due next academic year) and most businesses offering hard-to-pass-up deals on food, clothing and entertainment.

The hard and terrifying truth, though, is that this crisis calls into question the limits of growth, and with that the verity of the American middle class we’ve been raised to expect. With so much at stake financially—from super-high tax rates to axed pension payments to a lowered or stagnant median salary—we simply cannot afford to ignore what’s happening to our national understanding of economics.

Attending this lecture may be an important first step. ?