By Chronicle Staff
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., made its first foray onto Northwestern’s campus on Monday with a talk by economist-philosopher Alex J. Pollock titled “The Next Financial Crisis.”
Author of the book “Boom and Bust,” Pollock fulfilled his lecture’s promise with the prediction that the next major economic downturn will occur in the year 2018, following a pattern of historic highs and lows that has proven, according to him, surprisingly reliable.
“The historical average from the last four centuries for financial crises is about once every ten years,” he said. “Some kind of a crisis, someplace.”
“On the historical average, if we take 2008, the historical middle between 2007 and 2009, it should be 2018.”
“Where will you be in 2018?” he asked.
Pollock studies economics from a distinctly philosophical background. He received his master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago and his Master of Public Administration from Princeton. He has since served as president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, and currently writes for AEI on topics ranging from banks to housing.
Throughout his lecture, Pollock emphasized that though the financial future is fundamentally unknowable, the economy will continue to improve, because of what he believes to be the essential power behind all economic growth: scientific discovery.
“With each new innovation it’s the same thing,” he said, “a financial euphoria that builds to a bubble. A bubble leads to a bust. But that’s the financial adventure. Underneath that, the trend keeps going.” That trend, according to him, has been positive since the rise of physical science.
AEI’s five-person Northwestern executive council was responsible for bringing Pollock to campus. Students Domonic Burke and Joe Baka, members of the board and leaders within the College Republicans club, said they were very satisfied with the presentation.
“One of our goals was to tap the large econ base that we have at Northwestern,” said Burke. “So I think Mr. Pollock did a great job on touching on those kinds of topics.”
“I think we’re very happy, and it couldn’t have turned out better.”