Section: News

CSAD to host conference on inflation and its implications

On March 29 and 30, the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) will host a conference titled “What’s My Dollar Worth? Inflation’s Causes, Consequences and Cures.” The event will open with a keynote address on Wednesday evening followed by three panel discussions and a presentation on Thursday. The discussions, led by a number of professors, researchers and economists, will explore both current and historical cases of inflation, as well as possible solutions.

Although CSAD traditionally hosts a conference every other year, the event has not taken place since 2017 due to the pandemic. Past topics have included issues of free speech, privacy, economic inequality, democracy abroad and the future of political parties. Director of CSAD and Professor of Political Science Joseph Klesner said that the center chose this year’s topic because the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, which helps fund the conference, gave CSAD a grant focused on markets and society, making the political economy an appropriate topic to explore. Out of the issues relating to the political economy, inflation — which has risen sharply in the past two years — seemed the most relevant to current affairs.

“We thought for not only students who are currently at Kenyon, but even younger colleagues of ours at Kenyon who haven’t lived through and experienced inflation before, it would be a really important theme to try to understand better,” Klesner said.

Adam Tooze, the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis professor of history at Columbia University, will deliver the keynote address “Inflation, Politics and Policy: How Do We Learn from History?” at 7:30 p.m. in Oden Auditorium. Tooze is the author of multiple books, most recently Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy.

David H. Feldman ’78, professor of economics at the College of William and Mary, will give a talk titled “College Cost in Inflationary Times” during Common Hour on Thursday. Klesner encouraged students to attend, noting that the topic is particularly relevant to them.“This is one of the things that you all ought to be interested in — you’re paying the price,” he said.

The three panel discussions on Thursday — “The Reality of Contemporary Inflation,” “Addressing Inflation: Historical Experiences and Lessons for Today” and “Politics and Policy in the 2020s” — will include presentations by academics and economists followed by Q&A sessions.

Klesner encourages everyone to attend. “You’ll see some of the country’s foremost experts on inflation talking about it, but talking about it at a level that should be easy for a non-economist to understand,” he said. “[The conference is] a good opportunity to see some of the best minds in the country and people who are former Federal Reserve officials, or former Treasury Department officials, as well as academics. Any of those would be really great opportunities for students and community members to see.”

Acting President Jeff Bowman is also looking forward to the event. “It looks like a really exciting program and I hope to be able to see lots and lots of the panels, if not all of them,” he said. “It’s also exciting that it will be one of the first major events in the auditorium in Oden Hall, which looks great.”

A complete schedule of the event can be found on Kenyon’s website.

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