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Professor offers bleak economic outlook
Situation may get worse first
JEN 7251
NGCSU professor John Scott talks about the economy during a lecture Wednesday at the Hampton Park library branch. - photo by Jennifer Sami

What's next

All lectures in the North Georgia Community Connections series are free and open to the public. They will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Hampton Park Library, 5345 Settingdown Road on the following schedule:

· Oct. 6: "Engaging Science Students K-12: Motivating Tomorrow's Scientists"

· Oct. 13: "Mobilizing Creativity: Artmaking, Community and an Airstream Trailer"

· Oct. 20: "Leadership in Uncertain Times"

· Oct. 27: "Preparing Teachers for 21st Century Students"

· Nov. 3: "Childhood Obesity"

John Scott’s message wasn’t optimistic, but it resonated with his audience.

The country is heading into a double dip recession and the eventual recovery will bring with it record inflation, the North Georgia College & State University professor said during a lecture Wednesday at Hampton Park Library.

Scott offered his views on the history and state of the country’s economy as part of the second lecture in the university's Community Connections series.

“It reflects reality, unfortunately. It really does,” said attendee David Harrelson, a packaging business executive. “I wish it was better. I wish I had come in here and seen something I didn’t expect, but it’s not pretty right now.

"The truth hurts, but it’s good to know it, and you can make smart decisions based on a lot of the information.”

Scott delved into the nation’s economic history, including unemployment rates, deficit, taxes and income, which per person is about where it was in 2005, he said.

“We’re about five years behind,” he said.

Banks nationwide are holding on to more than $1 trillion of excess reserves they could loan, Scott said.

He shifted much of the blame to Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, who Scott said “shoved money into banks like crazy” and for the first time in history paid banks interest on the excess reserves.

“Every time Bernanke sneezes, the market quakes,” Scott said.

The professor also offered a history of why the housing market tanked, starting with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which he compared to movie monsters Megalodon and Godzilla.

The housing giants -- along with the Community Reinvestment Act, risky loans, low interest rates, government mortgage guarantees and AIG guarantees on private lending -- were bound to lead to the market’s current conditions.

“Once we’ve run off the cliff, I have one suggestion,” Scott said. “Don’t try to gain any altitude before the fall. But we’ve been doing that and I would hope that we will stop doing that.”

Before opening the floor to questions, Scott concluded his lecture by saying “the meltdown was government created,” adding “when we recover, I expect the greatest inflation since the Civil War.”

John Munday, who also attended last week’s lecture on jazz music, said the topic of the economy sounded interesting and relevant given the upcoming elections.

“I would have liked to have heard the other side of the story,” Munday said of Scott. "This is obviously a very free enterprise individual who would not approve of anything done by the current administration.

“He generally does not show a lot of interest or apathy for people, it’s just numbers. And I think people are looking for someone and something that cares about them and what happens to them.”

The lecture series will continue Oct. 6 with "Engaging Science Students K-12: Motivating Tomorrow's Scientists."

After listening to Wednesday’s lecture on the nation’s financial state, Harrelson thanked the college for providing the lecture series.

“These are terribly uncertain economic times and they come out and do something like this for free, so it’s wonderful,” he said.