BYU Forum: Challenges and opportunities in a chaotic economy

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Todd Buchholz, former White House director of economic policy and CNBC regular, presented the BYU forum Tuesday morning in the Marriot Center. He spoke on the challenges and opportunites people are facing today in the struggling economy.

Buchholz, who served as a managing director of the $15 billion Tiger hedge fund and, as a Harvard economics professor, is considered to be on the cutting edge of economics, fiscal politics, finance and business strategy. He is a frequent commentator on ABC News, PBS and CBS and recently hosted his own special on CNBC. Buchholz has advanced degrees in economics and law from Cambridge and Harvard.

Former White House director of economic policy speaks to BYU students about today’s chaotic economy

He first addressed how much the economy has changed over the past couple of decades. Buchholz told the audience when he first graduated from college, it was next to impossible to get a job in economics or finance, and for him that meant enrolling in graduate school.

In today’s society, economics and finance play a huge role. Both of them have suffered huge deficits and losses over the past several years, and people that know and understand them are in higher demand than ever before.

“When is confidence going to come back?” Buchholz said. “When are businesses and consumers going to come back? Today we live in the age of anxiety.”

Buchholz talked about some of the reasons behind the fall in the economy, one of which was that people today don’t have “skin in the game,” or they don’t want to risk anything. If everyone plays it safe, their economy will never change. Bucholz said people have to be willing to take risks in order to make changes.

“We are in a race for whoever harnesses intelligence and can prosper in society,” Buchholz said.

The United States isn’t the only country suffering in today’s huge economic crisis. Buchholz mentioned how Europe’s middle class is in the same “pinch” as America’s middle class. Japan and Spain continue their economic struggles. The crumbling Parthenon in Greece was referenced as a symbol of that country’s crumbling economy, one of the most struggling economies in the world right now. Even China’s seemingly dominating economic hold is slipping.

“Many of you have heard about how China is taking over the economy — don’t believe it,” Buchholz said. “It’s true right now, but China has some deep problems that won’t allow it to grow 10 years from now. China is aging fast.”

But the lecture was not about the hopelessness of the economic crisis we face, but rather the hope that we can pull ourselves out of it. Buchholz spoke about how the job market and economy in the US is improving. It’s improving at glacial pace, but the economy is showing improvement.

“Can the US keep going up at this slow pace when the rest of the world’s economy is slowing down?” Buchholz asked. “I think we have just enough momentum to do so. Now is the opportunity for innovation and prosperity.”

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