The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

NY Times columnist speaks at SJU

When it comes to the economy, “things are going to have to get worse before they get better,” according to New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera.

The journalist spoke to a group of St. John’s students, faculty and staff yesterday in the University Center. The lecture was part of this year’s spring academic lecture series.

Nocera has his own column in The Times called “Talking Business,” in which he discusses the many issues in world of business.

Before joining The New York Times in April of 2005, Nocera wrote for Fortune Magazine, Esquire, GQ, and Newsweek.

Recently, he has appeared on a number of TV shows including The Daily Show with John Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Charlie Rose.

During the lecture, Nocera discussed both the role of journalism in society today as well as the growing economic crisis.

“This financial crisis came quasi out of the blue. When Bear Sterns went down everyone though it was a one shot deal, that the situation was ‘contained,'” he said.

Nocera stated that after the meltdown of the world’s financial sector, he felt that nothing else seemed relevant.

“This crisis is confusing, angering, and it’s hard to know what to do,” he said. “How do we know that the solutions offered are correct?”

Nocera stressed the point that everyone is still guessing the future of the economy.

According to Nocera, the root of the economic crisis was not Wall Street, but Main Street.

“Too many people bought houses they couldn’t afford, the irresponsibility on Main Street worked its way up to Wall Street,” he said.

However, Nocera said he does not give in to popular pessimistic attitudes.

“I think that this will last for another year,” he said. “We are not headed for the Great Depression. I believe we will come out of this changed.”

He referred to his grandparent’s generation as a generation that lived through the Great Depression and came out of it with a mentality routed in security and saving.
This contrasts with the mindset of his generation.

“We were taught that debt was good, that investing made more sense than saving,” he said. “There was never a moment where we worried about being careful.”

Today’s generation is facing a situation similar to that of the older generation, he explained. This “Great Recession,” as Nocera termed it, calls for a readjustment. He stated that today’s financial situation will result in another change in behavior.

“This crisis will last long enough to impact us psychologically,” he said. “The best thing that can come out of this is a readjustment, people have to stop spending more than what they have.”

The lecture concluded with a brief question-and-answer session. One question that came up digressed from the financial crisis and asked about the future of print media, specifically newspapers.

“It’s hard to predict what will happen, but I think that print papers will go away,” Nocera answered. “The financial situation only makes this worse; advertising goes down and there’s less money available.”

Nocera said that online newspapers will become more prominent as the newsrooms shrink down in size.

“Newspapers are going to have to change, they are going to have to learn to generate money through the Web,” he said.

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