BoT chairman, experts weigh in on global financial crisis

Board of Trustees Chairman Russell Ramsey told an audience of 200 people at the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom Monday night to refrain from watching CNBC during the financial crisis because “it’s the People magazine of the financial markets.”

Ramsey, a co-founder of Friedman Billings Ramsey Group who now runs a private investment firm, was joined by GW colleagues and financial experts in a discussion on “Demystifying the Global Financial Crisis: Implications for the World Economy.” One of the panelists, John Glascock, a professor and director of the Real Estate Center at the University of Chicago, emphasized the positive aspects concerning the U.S. financial crisis.

“The U.K. and France have been hit much harder than the U.S.,” Glascock said. While some have attributed the crisis to subprime mortgage loans, Glascock said the real problem behind the recent turmoil was the risky business practices of large corporations, such as Bear Stearns, an investment company which sold to JPMorgan Chase last spring.

Panelist Stijn Claessens, assistant director of research at the International Monetary Fund, said the U.S. government must be able to differentiate which businesses are capable of surviving with financial support from those that cannot make it.

“This is a movie we have seen before, at a different speed, but nevertheless the same movie,” Claessens said.

The panel also took questions from the audience that ranged from queries on specific personal investments to the impact of the crisis on GW admissions. School of Business Dean Susan Phillips said she did not think the University is losing applicants because of the economic meltdown.

“Our flow of applications for admissions and enrollment is still strong,” Phillips said.

Many audience members said the panel discussion provided new information on the current economic situation.

Junior Shoshanna Blumenthal said she thought Ramsey was a great asset to the panel.

“Russell Ramsey is someone on the inside of what’s going on,” she said.

Blumenthal was one of 30 students in attendance with Professor Anna Helm’s international business class.

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