You are Invited – Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises

The Program on America and the Global Economy (PAGE)

Presents a Book Launch:

Manias, Panics, and Crashes

A History of Financial Crises

Featuring:  Robert Z. Aliber, Professor Emeritus of International Economics and Finance at the University of Chicago

Moderated by: Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy

“Deep knowledge and a pragmatic approach to financial history qualifies Robert Aliber to provide this desperately needed sixth edition of Charles Kindleberger’s classic study of financial manias and crashes. . . Read. Learn. Weep.” —Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Selected as one of the best investment books of all time by the Financial Times, Manias, Panics and Crashes puts the turbulence of the financial world in perspective. Here is a vivid and entertaining account of how reckless decisions and a poor handling of money have led to financial explosions over the centuries. This sixth edition has been revised and expanded to bring the history of financial crisis up to date, covering such topics as speculative manias, the lender of last resort and the case of Lehman Brothers.  This highly anticipated volume has been hailed as a “true classic…both timely and timeless”.

Robert Aliber is Professor Emeritus of International Economics and Finance at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, where he has been a faculty member since 1965. He writes extensively about currencies and international monetary issues. His books include The New International Money Game, now in its seventh edition, as well as the book Your Money and Your Life.

Tuesday, September 13th:  2:00 to 3:30 p.m.

5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

RSVP (acceptances only) to

Posted by: PAGE Staff


News Digest: Pinched

The following is an event summary from a book discussion hosted by the Program on America and the Global Economy on August 8, 2011.

While the current recession is causing millions of Americans real and tangible pain today, the wounds inflicted by the current economic climate may prove to be more long-lasting and damaging than originally thought.  This is the argument espoused by Don Peck in his recently released book, Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It.  The book, which is based upon Peck’s cover story from the March 2010 issue of The Atlantic Magazine, details how the lingering effects of this recession will be felt by those hardest hit for the remainder of their professional lives.  As Peck stated, “[l]ong recessions leave deep, permanent scars on society.”  The event was moderated by Kent Hughes, the Director of the Program on America and the Global Economy.

Peck began by bringing the audience back to the spring of 2009.  Lehman Brothers had collapsed.  TARP (The Troubled Assets Relief Program) had been signed into law by President George W.Bush and the Federal Reserve had been active on a number fronts.  When President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, the economy felt as if it were in free fall; some 750,000 jobs were lost in that first month.  The nation was holding its collective breath in an attempt to weather the storm.  Many of the economists Peck spoke with warned that our sigh of relief was premature.

It was during this time that Peck interviewed economists who first told him that this recession will have more than a cursory impact on those adversely affected.  Peck stated that for these individuals “there really was a lifelong impact.”  This lifelong impact was especially felt by the young with limited education who had only recently entered the workforce.  Starting in very difficult circumstances, this group “quite literally never caught up,” Peck argued.

This phenomenon is not unique to the current moment in time.  Peck discussed the recession of the early 1980’s and found that those who entered the workforce during that downturn were still suffering the consequences twenty years later.  Among the issues they faced were the fact that they were disproportionately in non-professional jobs, they were well behind on income, and they clung more tightly to their careers.  As Peck researched further he found that similar experiences were reported throughout American history, including the 1970’s, the end of the gilded age, and, of course, the Great Depression. Read more of this post

U.S. Needs to Get Back to the Business of Making Things

Yesterday Kent Hughes, Director of the Program on America and the Global Economy, published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the state of U.S. manufacturing.  The article in its entirety can be read here.

Posed by: PAGE Staff

Why a Downgrade Wouldn’t Matter Much

On August 3, Kent Hughes, the Director of the Program on America and the Global Economy of the Woodrow Wilson Center sat down for an interview about the consequences of a downgrade of America’s creditworthiness.  The interview can be read here.

Posted by: PAGE Staff

NASA and Spinoff Technologies

When many people think about NASA, the first things that come to mind are most likely extraterrestrial missions, zero-gravity environments, and satellite images of our solar system’s planets.  Not as immediately apparent are ear thermometers, edible toothpaste, and improved athletic shoes.  These innovations are, however, inextricably linked to NASA as well.

The agency is responsible for the creation of each of those technologies and thousands of other “spinoffs”, defined by NASA as “commercially available products, services, or processes that take NASA-related technology and bring it to a broader audience.”  Such spinoffs can be found in a variety of locations, including the hospital (i.e. improved artificial limbs), the highway (i.e. safety grooving of concrete), and the household (i.e. memory foam mattresses).

As NASA continues its work in research and development, the list of its spinoffs continues to grow.  The 2010 edition of the NASA publication entitled “Spinoff” lists recent NASA spinoff technologies, including inflatable antennas, the Hilbert-Huang Transform (a signal processing technology), and nanoceramic materials that are being integrated into hairstyling tools.  Spinoffs are important to the manufacturing sector as well, especially spinoffs pertaining to robot technology.

However, it should be noted that the relationship between some new consumer technologies and NASA investments are harder to quantify.  The line from one product to another is often indirect.

Roger Launius, space history curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., described the impact that NASA’s need for smaller, lighter electronics has had in the decreased size of technologies, noting that “miniaturization was an attractive area that NASA pushed very hard to make sure it could have more capability per square inch and pound flown into space.”

Posted by: Erica Pincus

Sources:  Innovation News Daily, MSNBC, NASA, NASA“Spinoff”

Photo Credit:  Helmet View from Astronaut Mike Fossum courtesy of flickr user NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Technological Literacy in the Classroom

Technological literacy—defined by the U.S. Department of Education as computer skills and the ability to use computers and other technology to improve learning, productivity and performance—is increasingly necessary for entrance into a growing number of professions.  Integrating technology into curricula and teaching methods more effectively throughout the educational process may help to increase this literacy.  Furthermore, using technology as an educational tool to spark student interest can help to better engage students in the classroom and can allow teachers to present material in more innovative ways.

From interactive Promethean technology, to simulations such as Molecular Workbench, to and other education-centered social networking sites, there is a variety of technology available for educators to utilize in the classroom today.  This utilization can better engage students in the learning process as well.  For example, according to Nigel Rodwell, Technical Director of UK-based Amazing Interactive, which creates 3D software that is often used for educational purposes, children who had a part of their lessons delivered in 3D experienced up to 70% better retention of the information taught in the lesson.

In her article entitled “Challenges of teaching in the age of the Internet”, Jennifer Fleming wrote that “teaching in the Internet age means we must teach tomorrow’s skills today.”  She cited podcasts, blogs, iPods, and other technologies as teaching tools that she thinks need to be used in the classroom.  Educators can learn how to take advantage of these and other innovative technologies through professional development programs such as the Google Teacher Academy.

Nevertheless, better integrating technology into the classroom is not an educational panacea and cannot replace quality teaching.  “It is important to remember that educational software, like textbooks, is only one tool in the learning process,” noted Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).  “Neither can be a substitute for well-trained teachers, leadership, and parental involvement.”

Posted by:  Erica Pincus

Sources:  The Guardian,, PR Newswire, U.S. Department of Education

Photo Credit:  Using the Smartboard courtesy of flickr user Kathy Cassidy

Event Summary: The New Cool

The following is an event summary from an event hosted bt the Program on America and the Global Economy.

On Wednesday, March 2nd, The Program on America and the Global Economy (PAGE) hosted author Neal Bascomb for a discussion of  his new book about a team of high school robot builders and their quest to win the ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’ (FIRST) robotics competition.  Bascomb is, a prolific and versatile author, having written books on a wide variety of subjects including Nazi-hunting in Argentina and the competition to build the world’s tallest skyscraper.  The New Cool follows a high school team of rookie robot builders from California over a period of six weeks as they build, wire, and program a machine to battle in a robotics competition with over 2,000 entrants.  Kent Hughes, director of PAGE, moderated the event.

Bascomb was motivated to write the book after hearing a vignette about FIRST founder Dean Kamen.  Kamen, inventor of the Segway, a portable dialysis machine, and a wheel chair that can climb stairs among other devices, founded the robotics competition to encourage high school students to consider pursue scientific careers.  Kamen decided to embarks on this quest after the unfortunate failure of a number of local schoolchildren to name a single living scientist.after realizing that most kids couldn’t name a living scientist  The object of the competition is to bring science and engineering a level of excitement and passion similar to school sports.  In the long run, Kamen hopes to add scientists and engineers to the pantheon of recognizable American heroes.  Bascomb originally intended to write a magazine article on the subject, but when he saw firsthand the potential to galvanize student interest nationwide in engineering, he decided a book was warranted. Read more of this post