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Why Study Economics and Business at Randolph?

We live in a rapidly changing, complex world.

The word "recession" was not part of the public conversation in 2007. Late that year the DJIA crested 14,000 and most people had never heard of sub-prime mortgages. It was still assumed that a home purchase was a good investment; only the most careful observers noted that the housing boom was already past its peak. In retrospect, we now realize that the economy had already slipped into what was to become one of the most serious downturns in our country's history, that is only now beginning to show signs of abating. The notion toward the end of the 1990s that the economy had entered into a new permanent era of sustainable economic growth was significantly challenged by the tumultuous sub-prime mortgage and credit crises of 2008-09.

What did we learn from this episode?

  • We learned that it is imprudent to throw money blindly into housing or stocks and assume that large and permanently positive returns will necessarily follow. Both housing prices in some parts of the country and stocks overall fell by more than 50% during the crisis.

  • We learned that unregulated, too-big-to-fail instutitions such as Lehman Bros, Washington Mutual, AIG, Bear Stearns, and Merrill Lynch have the potential to not only generate immense wealth, but to also drag down the entire economy when they take on too much risk.

  • We learned that we have federal institutions like the Federal Reserve, US Treasury, and FDIC that have the ability to be extremely flexible in dealing with a financial panic. The Federal Reserve, for example, pushed interest rates to historic lows and created new lending facilities that no one in the business and economics world ever imagined possible.

  • We also learned that congress and the administration are capable of quickly crafting economics stimulus and bailout packages with price tags measured, no longer in billions of dollars, but in trillions,  all in an effort to  prevent the economy from slipping into a Great Depression-like downturn. We're probably looking at annual budget deficits that will result from such government spending in the neighborhood of $1 trillion for the foreseeable future.

  • On the other hand, one thing that we may not have learned while we've been riveted to news stories about bank failures and stock market plunges, is that there is a global food crisis stemming from rapidly rising food prices, the global credit crisis, food hoarding, and drought that has put the lives of millions of poor people in peril according to the UN Food and Agriculture organization (FAO).

That is a lot of news and information to digest. Nevertheless, a course of study in economics and business can help you to understand such phenomena. Students are exposed to quantitative and theoretical tools that help to explain interactions among consumers, businesses, and government. These tools will help you gain a better understanding of things like wealth and income generation, poverty, inequality, competition, international trade, Federal Reserve monetary policy, why financial markets have been so volatile, and why there is a global food crisis.

A course of study in economics and business might also help you get a leg up on a career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2009-09 Edition, employment growth for economists will be above the overall national average for those with advanced degrees and highly quantitative skills. The median annual wage and salary for all economists was over $77,000 in 2006.

Randolph College is a wonderful place to study economics and business. Given our small classes , you will have opportunities that would simply not be feasible at larger schools with auditorium-sized classrooms: technology-based research projects , independent studies , chances to present your work to your professors and peers.

It is our promise to you that you will not be just another number sitting in the back of one of our classrooms.