Steve Forbes, hosted b y SPEC, comes to talk at UPenn at Irvine Auditorium Credit: Jennifer Liao

When asked by one brave student about Forbes Magazine ranking Penn number 83 in its 2009 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” Steve Forbes simply replied, “The market doesn’t agree with that, so I wouldn’t lose any sleep over[it].”

Despite the gravity of the country’s economic situation, the editor-in-chief of the business publication Forbes Magazine kept his audience in good spirits last night with jokes on topics ranging from the tedium of accounting to the ability of monetary policy talk to put one to sleep.

Forbes addressed Penn students in Irvine Auditorium last night as the Social Planning and Events Committee’s fall speaker. In his lecture, Forbes focused mainly on the current financial crisis and the future of our country’s economy.

He pointed to flaws present in the federal reserve system, monetary policy — the process by which the government controls the country’s supply of money — and interest rates as primary causes of the economic downfall. He cited the state of the U.S. dollar as a determining factor in the state of the economy.

He also highlighted governmental mistakes made in the early part of the decade, namely driving up the price of housing by printing too much money.His allegiance to the Republican party aside, Forbes also criticized the Bush administration for its “weak dollar” policy.

As a possible solution to the country’s economic problems, Forbes suggested employing a “flat tax,” a tax system with a constant rate. He used Hong Kong as an example of the system’s effectiveness, referencing China’s recent economic growth.

Forbes also addressed the issue of healthcare reform. He argued that there is a disconnect between providers and consumers, although he referenced lasik and cosmetic surgeries as exceptions to this problem.

Those particular services, he said, are meant to please the consumer, and those costs comes out of the consumer’s own pocket.

Despite his qualms, Forbes expressed hope for the future of the country’s economy.

“No disasters are inevitable,” he said.

He assured the audience that the economic crisis is fixable, advising students to be optimistic about their imminent entry into the work force.

Forbes concluded the lecture with a challenge to students: “Put your brains and talents to work.”

Around 800 people attended the event, according to SPEC Connaissance co-chairwoman and College senior Shelly Min-Joo Cha — a number that far exceeded SPEC’s expectations.

“I think people were genuinely excited,” Cha said. “People were interested in listening to [Forbes’] insight on economy.”

Fellow SPEC Connaissance co-director Calvin Grussok also a College senior, echoed this sentiment.

“[Forbes is] extremely relevant,” he said. “He has a lot of insight about the future of the economy that will affect us in our near future.”

And for Wharton freshman Scott Dzialo, who attended Forbes’ talk, the event was simply “a great opportunity to hear from a very knowledgeable person.”

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