Attending the Economic Outlook Forum in Chicago: A Boothie’s perspective

Each year, Chicago Booth hosts an Economic Outlook in New York, Chicago, and Hong Kong to give faculty members a forum to evaluate emerging trends. I had the opportunity to attend the Economic Outlook Forum in Chicago where faculty, alumni, students, and members of the Chicago business community came together to listen to a panel discuss on the topic Trade Wars, Deficit and Inflation: Rhetoric or Reality?

The panel at Economic Outlook 2019 was comprised of some of Booth’s most well-known faculty members, two of which I had the pleasure of having teach my classes. While Professor Austan Goolsbee (former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and member of Obama’s cabinet) helped re-frame my understanding of competitive strategy for platform businesses in his class Platform Competition, Professor Raghuram Rajan (former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India) is currently teaching me how cross-border business complicates financial valuation. Attending Economic Outlook gave me the chance to see my professors in a different setting as they discussed everything from the state of unemployment to shifting attitudes on trade with China.

One of the most interesting aspects of the discussion was the dissenting opinions provided by members of the panel. Professor Goolsbee mentioned that there are still risks of recession that the general population should be worried about, especially given our inability to predict when recessions take place and the Fed tightening interest rates. On the other hand, Professor Randall Kroszner highlighted that over the past few years we have experienced the slowest tightening of interest rates in history. He also said that the Fed has been able to increase rates without high inflation.

For me, the contrasting viewpoints provided by the panel was symbolic of the spirit of academic thought at the University of Chicago. While we frequently mention the number of Nobel Prize laureates currently on Booth’s faculty, it is not often we recall and celebrate that they do not view economics with the same lens. Where Eugene Fama is known for the efficient market hypothesis, which puts forth the idea that share prices fully reflect all available information in the market, Chicago Booth’s newest Nobel laureate Richard Thaler is known for his research on behavioral economics that claims humans are not rational beings.

This to me shows Booth is a place that celebrates diversity, whether it’s diversity of thought, ideas, opinions, or even personality. When I was going through the application process my interviewer said to me, “Booth does not try to make you into a ‘typical’ MBA student. Rather it gives you the avenues to succeed while allowing you to remain true to who you are.” After a year and a half at Booth and attending many events like the Economic Outlook Forum, I couldn’t agree more.

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