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Professor: Recession isnt so bad, in context
Joel Potter, professor of economics at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega speaks about the global financial crisis Monday evening at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Great Decisions 2010

Hall County
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Mondays
Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville

Forsyth County
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays
Where: Hampton Park Library, 5345 Settingdown Road, Cumming

Week 3: Russia and its neighbors
Week 4: The Persian Gulf
Week 5: Peace building and conflict resolution
Week 6: Global crime

If you put the Great Recession of 2009 in the context of 59 years, it’s not so bad after all, according to an economist at North Georgia College & State University.

Joel Potter, a professor of economics at the university’s Mike Cottrell School of Business, addressed a room of about 60 people Monday at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Potter said last year’s recession set the standard of living back to 2007 levels, but the recent recession has been compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s, which set people’s standard of living back a generation.

And as media outlets focused on “isolated negative incidents” and ignored broad trends, the world’s real Gross Domestic Product only declined by 1 percent in 2009, Potter said.

And that decline came after 59 years of continual growth. Since 1950, the world’s GDP has increased by 855 percent, Potter said.
“Did you see that in the news? ... you have to go searching for that,” Potter said.

Aside from some negative media attention, Potter told Monday’s audience that people take growth for granted — especially when they have more.

“As we get wealthier, is it sort of a luxury to be able to complain a little bit? Yeah, for sure,” Potter said.

And while he did not dispute that the recession of 2009 caused people to suffer and it was the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Potter said the change was minimal if placed in perspective.

“So in 2009 when things get a bit worse, is it a big deal? Yes, but it’s important to put in perspective,” Potter said.

Potter, who spoke on the global financial crisis, was the second of six featured lecturers in North Georgia College & State University’s Great Decisions 2010 series.

He said the recession in the United States ended in August. He said economists expect the world’s GDP to increase in 2010.

“I guess knowing this stuff helps you put it in perspective a little bit,” Potter said. “At least, that’s my hope.”

Great Decisions 2010 is a forum that aims to engage people in foreign policy and international issues. The long-running national program is being facilitated locally this year by North Georgia College & State University, whose faculty members will act as sources of expertise on a range of topics.

This year is the first time North Georgia has facilitated the forum. Great Decisions was started in 1954 as the cornerstone of the Foreign Policy Association, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to engaging the American public in learning more about the world.

Next week’s lecture will focus on Russia and its neighbors.