President Barack Obama inherited an American economy in severe trouble. Immediately upon entering the White House, Obama introduced the most wide-reaching state-led counter-crisis measures since the New Deal of the 1930s. The Obama administration's "New New Deal" includes bank bailouts, the largest peacetime economic stimulus package, a "toxic asset" plan, government takeover of General Motors and new financial regulations.
Obama has said that getting the economy back on its feet is his number one priority, and it's likely that his handling of economic affairs will be a major factor in determining whether his presidency is considered a success. Many praised the new American president for taking bold action and showing dynamic leadership. Polls have showed that Obama's personal popularity has remained high, but as the recession has dragged on and unemployment has continued to rise, a growing number have begun to question the effectiveness of his policies.
Has Obama gone too far in increasing government spending, or not far enough? Are the resulting huge US government deficits a temporary phenomenon, or will they cause a fiscal crisis in the near future? Does his government's ownership of car companies and banks provide just short-term restructuring assistance, or do such moves herald a greater direct role for the state in the economy?
This session will seek to cut through the superficial assessments about Obama’s popularity and examine to what extent his administration’s initiatives can not only address the immediate downturn, but lay a foundation for longer-term economic growth.
James Matthews is a management consultant based in New York. Matthews has written about a variety of business and economics topics.
He is a member of the NY Salon, and has convened NY Salon events such as "Is There a Culture of Corruption?" and "Athletes as Role Models in the Steroids Era."
Alan Miller is Director of The NY Salon. He also is the co-founder of London's Truman Brewery and Vibe Bar.
Miller is also a film director and writer.
Professor Morgan works with US studies and head of US Presidency Centre, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London. She also is the author of The Age of Deficits: presidents and unbalanced budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush.
Carl Mortished is the world business editor of The Times.