Chicago Tribune Forum Asks: “Economy in Recovery?”

By  Emmy Carragher

Bruce Dold, the Chicago Tribune Editorial Page Editor, moderated a panel discussion titled “Economy in Recovery?” hosted by the Chicago Tribune in association with PNC Bank.

The forum was the second event put on by Trib Nation, the Tribune’s community and reader engagement program, in a series entitled Chicago Forward; Conversations about the future.

The panelists in last night’s event were John W. Rogers Jr, chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments, Christie Hefner, former chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Dr. Randall S. Kroszner, economics professor at University of Chicago, and Daniel C. Ustain, chairman and CEO of Navistar International Corporation.

Amongst the panelists, there was a general consensus that the worst of the recession in the economy is over, and that the state and national governments must look to securing its stability in the future.

“This recovery is real,”  Rogers said. “Corporations are talking about hiring again and gaining back confidence as things continue to progress.”

However, Kroszner discussed the importance of looking to the past to study historical economic crises in order to learn from previous mistakes and better predict patterns for the country’s current situation.

“By studying history, we are emboldened to act,”  Kroszner said.

Ustain brought the discussion to a local level, saying that in order to cut the current city and state deficit, the people must also be involved.

“Chicago’s government needs to work with the people, not just for them,” Ustain said.

Hefner agreed, saying that a collaborative government will strengthen the city.

“We are seated in a great city, and I think we will come out [of the economic crisis] better than almost anywhere else,”  Hefner said.

Though the audience was made up of an older crowd, several college students in attendance had responses to the forum.

“I think the forum did a good job reminding us that it will be a paced recovery, not an immediate turnaround,” said Loyola sophomore communications major Thomas Miller, 19.

A Northwestern University student, however, held a different view.

“Tonight’s forum was informative, but I think that the recovery we’ve seen is artificially stimulated by the government and won’t last,” said Northwestern sophomore political science major Vasiliki Mitrakos, 19.

Overall, Sarah Beardsley, newsroom events director at the Tribune, was pleased with the outcome of the second Chicago Forward event.

“Everyone I’ve talked to says they got a lot out of it tonight’s discussion,”  Beardsley said.

“Economy in Recovery” was held at the Norhwestern University Law School in Throne Auditorium in front of a crowd of about 500.

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