Despite negative talk of the economy and where the United States is headed, economic expert and director of Central Michigan University's
Master of Business Administration program Debasish Chakraborty says the nation's economy actually is prospering.
On the health of the current economy
"Economic gains are not equally distributed and that rightfully causes anxiety among individuals, but the American economy itself is doing relatively well," says Chakraborty, who has served as director of the university's MBA program in the
College of Business Administration for five years.
He explains the U.S. goes through periods of economic upturn and downturn as well as fluctuations in certain industries, but there always will be industries that withstand changes or adapt better than others. Chakraborty rates American technology and financial institutions as strong.
"It is normal for a superpower to go through bouts of change. That is unfortunate because there are now and will continue to be some people who really are hurting," Chakraborty said. "However, the strength and resilience of our institutions and innovation right now point to our current strength as a whole and make me optimistic that we will continue to thrive as a nation."
On what can cause an 'economic roller coaster'
Chakraborty says part of the uncertainty in the economy is a result of rapidly evolving technology in all sectors. One example he points to is the emergence of remote- or robot-driven smart cars Google is testing and how this might change the automobile or car service industry.
"When you look back in our history at periods of time labeled as economic downturns, it is often because technology is outpacing us, and we need to find a solution
— whether in that industry or another. There is a struggle as we as a society figure out how to deal with that change," he said.
On the key to surviving our future economy
So who will be the so-called winners and losers in our future economy, given the current direction of the U.S. economy? Chakraborty says that people with an education in technology and financial capital, as well as other skilled workers with talents to fit a variety of jobs will on average have an easier time adapting to economic changes.
"Education is the common denominator. The real question is what will grow the economy, how will we grow, what will it look like and how will the middle class benefit," he said.
On Americans' ability to recover after times of economic hardship
Chakraborty adds that while the uncertainty of the economic cycle and constant changes can be difficult for many Americans to take in, there is one more thing that has him hopeful: the American spirit of ingenuity.
"We as Americans have the uncanny ability to reinvent ourselves and our country. Our entrepreneurial spirit is strong," Chakraborty said. "If you asked me what the next great thing would be, I couldn't tell you. But, if you asked me where it would be invented, I would tell you it will be here in the United States."
Expert profile: Debasish Chakraborty
Debasish Chakraborty serves as director of CMU’s Master of Business Administration program. Chakraborty’s research spans open economy macroeconomics, economic effects of globalization, capital flows, and its effects on growth and trade balance. His recent research focus has included the Indian information technology industry and its long-term viability. He also can speak to economic rhetoric in the current political campaigns.
Chakraborty began at CMU in 1988 as an assistant professor of economics in the College of Business Administration. He came to CMU with six years of teaching and research experience at Thiel College and the University of Central Arkansas. Chakraborty went on to earn a tenured position in the department in 1997. In addition to his experience in the classroom and through academic research, he has been a consultant to companies and business organizations including Tata Consultancy Services, General Motors Corp., Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Bankers Association.