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Experts to address MIT community on financial turbulence

October events include faculty panels, Soros remarks

MIT community members will have several opportunities in October to hear world-renowned experts discuss the turbulence that has gripped global financial markets -- and what, if anything, individuals should do.

Over the next week, faculty from the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Department of Economics will take part in two panel discussions on the financial crisis. And on Oct. 28, financier and philanthropist George Soros is scheduled to speak at Kresge.

MIT's Human Resources has also assembled a series of resources for employees who have questions or concerns about volatile financial markets.

The Sloan faculty panel, "Perspectives on the Current Financial Crisis: A Panel Discussion" will run from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2, in Wong Auditorium. All members of the MIT community are welcome to attend.

"The financial sector runs to a great degree on confidence and trust, so if fear comes to rule and failures are expected, then failure becomes self-fulfilling," said David Schmittlein, the John C. Head III Dean of Sloan. "That is why steps to restore confidence are so important, even as we ensure that those who made bad risky bets pay a price for those mistakes.

"This panel of MIT Sloan experts will discuss and shed light on the economic crisis and what should be done in the short and near term to avoid self-fulfilling failure," he continued.

Panelists at the Sloan event include David Geltner, the George Macomber Professor of Real Estate Finance; Simon Johnson, the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship; Andrew W. Lo, the Harris & Harris Group Professor; Jiang Wang, the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance; and Ross Watts, the Erwin H. Schell Professor of Management.

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, a separate faculty panel will discuss "The U.S. Financial Crisis: What Happened? What's Next?' The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. in 10-250 and is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Department of Economics, and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. As with the Oct. 2 event, all members of the MIT community are welcome to attend.

Ricardo Caballero, the Ford International Professor of Economics and the head of the Department of Economics, said the Institute-wide event would discuss the causes and consequences of this turmoil, which he characterized as "the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression" and one that is jeopardizing the global economy.

"What happened to the real estate and financial markets? What are the public finance implications of the bailouts? Will these bailouts work? What else can we do? What are the main macroeconomic scenarios going forward? What are the global implications of this crisis? These are some of the questions that our expert panel will address," Caballero said.

Participants at the Oct. 8 discussion include Caballero; Bengt Holmstrom, the Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics; Andrew Lo; James Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics; and William Wheaton, professor of economics and director of the Center for Real Estate.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 1, 2008 (download PDF).

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