Saturday, February 18, 2023

3:15 PM – 4:10 PM

Trinity United Methodist Church

225 W. President Street, Savannah, GA 31401

Jon Hilsenrath


At the dawn of the 21st century, many of America’s leaders believed that free trade, modern finance, technology, and wise government policy had paved the way for a new era of prosperity. Then came a cascade of disasters—a bursting tech bubble, domestic terror attacks, a housing market implosion, a financial system crisis, a deadly global pandemic. These events led to serial recessions, deepened America’s political fractures and widened the divide between those best off and everyone else.

Award-winning economics writer Jon Hilsenrath examines what happened, viewing events through the experiences of two historic figures: Janet Yellen was Treasury Secretary, Federal Reserve Chairwoman and Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Her husband, George Akerlof, was an imaginative Nobel prize–winning economist.

Long before the upheaval of the past two decades, Akerlof warned of flaws in modern economic thinking; then Yellen had to fix the economy on the fly as it cracked.

In telling their story, Hilsenrath explores long-running intellectual battles over the fragile balance between unruly democratic government and unpredictable markets. He introduces readers to the cast of modern intellectuals and policy makers who deciphered, shaped, and steered these systems through prosperity, chaos, and reformation. And he explains what went wrong, why, and what might happen next.

What emerges is an absorbing examination of how humans think and behave, and how those actions shape markets, inform economic policy, and could determine the future of a now-deeply divided nation.

Hilsenrath reminds us that economics is neither science nor ideology, as some once wished or promised.



Jon Hilsenrath is a senior writer for the Wall Street Journal, where he has been since 1997. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2014 for his coverage of the Federal Reserve; part of a WSJ team that was a Pulitzer finalist in 2009 for coverage of the financial crisis; and contributed on-the-ground reporting to the WSJ’s 9/11 coverage which won a Pulitzer in 2002. His colleagues twice voted him one of the nation’s most influential financial journalists. Hilsenrath is nonpartisan and has been a contributor to Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, NPR, MSNBC and C-Span. He is a frequent public speaker. He graduated from Duke University, was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University and a visitor to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He lives outside of Washington, DC.

Thank You to Our SBF Sponsors