Recession or Recovery? Ask Ithaca's ExpertsRecession or Recovery? Ask Ithaca's Experts
What's one good way to find out how the economy is doing? Ask the experts at Ithaca College.

What's one good way to find out how the economy is doing? Ask the experts at Ithaca College.
Ithaca College? Isn't that a pretty far trek from Wall Street?

In fact, Ithaca's business graduates can be found in some of the most prestigious corner offices in New York and other cities around the country. A recent panel titled "The Financial Crisis: Frontline Perspectives" brought notable alumni back to campus to share their first-hand experience in the trenches of the finance world with an audience of 60 students, faculty, staff, and fellow alumni. Participants included Marc Weinberg '80, managing director and head of global liquidity oversight for Citigroup; Chris Lacroix '79, former partner and managing director with LSV Asset Management and currently a member of LSV's executive committee; and Kurt Wolfgruber '72, recently retired as president of Oppenheimer Funds.

Panel members shared the good news that the economy is no longer in a free fall like it was in 2008. The bad news: the tentative return of confidence in the market isn't to be confused with complete recovery.

The long-term consensus from Ithaca's experts was that while continued high unemployment and cautious consumer spending, coupled with the increasing national debt, the continuing drop in the value of the U.S. dollar, and the rise of global markets, have put a damper on short-term optimism, long-term recovery from a recession deeper and longer than any since the 1930s will eventually come about.

"I actively look for ways to be involved in the school of business," Weinberg said. "When asked to participate on this panel, I was very enthusiastic about being able to share my views with IC students. Given the institution I work for and my role in monitoring and managing our funding, I had a bird's eye view of the crisis and the impact on financial markets and the economy.

"It was a terrific experience. I was very impressed by the level of attendance, especially early on a Saturday morning, and the active engagement of the students in arranging the panel discussion and in asking thoughtful questions."

Wolfgruber agreed that he enjoyed sharing his unique perspective at such an interesting moment in time. "I happened to be consulting for a residential mortgage-backed securities firm. The housing sector of our economy was the 'bubble' that led to much of the economic difficulty, and ongoing research in this sector would, in my view, be particularly helpful in understanding the future path of economic growth.

"We were, and still are, in a very unique economic and financial market environment," he added. "It is one of those rare 'black swan' events that will come to shape behaviors for some time to come and also represents a unique learning experience for those studying it as it develops."

"I felt we could provide the students with some real examples of how to use their knowledge to interpret economic and financial market behavior at an exciting time in our history. The pleasure comes from working to develop some insights and then having the students embrace those thoughts with inquisitiveness and enthusiasm."

Students also received some tips on how to find their first job in a difficult market.

"The important thing is not to get caught up with some specific thing you want to do," said Lacroix. "The business world is a meritocracy. Get your foot in the door, work your tail off, and you'll be all right."

"It was very helpful hearing what the three alumni had to say, especially about emerging global markets," said Jorge Pagoaga '10, vice president of programming for the Mu Alpha chapter of the national business fraternity Beta Alpha Psi.


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