February 4, 2024

Former White House Economists to Discuss Social Security, National Debt to Kick Off ‘Finance Grand Challenges’ Series at Smith

Ex-White House Economists Tackle Social Security & National Debt: Launch of Smith’s ‘Finance Grand Challenges’ Series
In an exceptional gathering of economic minds, the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business is set to host the inaugural ‘Finance Grand Challenges’ speaker series. The event, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, will feature a panel of esteemed economists, all of whom have served under recent White House administrations. The discussion, free to the public, will be held in Van Munching Hall’s Frank Auditorium and promises to delve into pressing financial issues of our time. The panel includes Congressional Budget Office Director Phillip Swagel, ExxonMobil Chief Economist Tyler Goodspeed, and will be moderated by former U.S. Treasury official and Smith School Dean’s Professor of Finance Michael Faulkender.

A trio of prominent economists who worked under recent White House administrations will launch a “Finance Grand Challenges” speaker series organized by the Office of Executive Education at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

The event at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12 in Van Munching Hall’s Frank Auditorium is free and will involve Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Phillip Swagel and ExxonMobil Chief Economist Tyler Goodspeed in a discussion moderated by former U.S. Treasury official and Smith School Dean’s Professor of Finance Michael Faulkender.

Faulkender is coordinating the series. The inaugural program, themed “The Unsustainable U.S. Federal Budget,” he says, will cover such topics as social security and the national debt, “which are especially timely given the imminent publication of the latest CBO 10-year budget outlook.”

Swagel, CBO director since 2019, serves on the UMD School of Public Policy faculty and has served as a senior fellow for Smith’s Center for Financial Policy. From 2006 to 2009, he was Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department – the same role Faulkender assumed some 10 years later and led the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Swagel’s and Goodspeed’s participation in this inaugural Finance Grand Challenges series program, Faulkender says, “exemplifies the series’ mission to bring the best minds from academia and government in to have an open and impactful discussion on ”economic and financial challenges impacting our country and our world, such as the national debt and social security, the potential costs and benefits of digital assets including central bank digital currencies, student loan forgiveness, and how we can improve small business dynamism.”

Goodspeed, like Faulkender and Swagel, served in the White House — on the Council of Economic Advisers, including as acting chairman from 2020-2021. In that role he advised the administration’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic and chaired the Economic Policy Committee at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. He previously served on the council as chief economist for macroeconomic policy and senior economist for tax, public finance and macroeconomics.

Smith Dean Prabhudev Konana says, “Such topics and high-level discussion represent what our students and other stakeholders appreciate and epitomizes Smith’s commitment to addressing difficult, grand challenges of global importance in finance and economics.”

To register to attend the free event and for more information, go to the Finance Grand Challenges Speaker Series website.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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