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The joint lecture series by Peking University (PKU) and The University of Chicago started in June 2020. The main objective of the joint online lectures is to bring together scholars from both institutions for high-level engagement, focusing on the issues of importance and with the aims of creating a collaborative lecture series.

Beginning this September, under the umbrella of the joint lecture series, the Peking University Center in Chicago and the University of Chicago Becker Friedman Institute in China (BFI-China) jointly launched an innovative seminar series on economics, Critical Conversations with Economists. This groundbreaking series covers topics ranging from economic growth, financial markets, to technology innovations and international relations. Scholars from Peking University and the University of Chicago will come together for a series of targeted discussion addressing economic issues facing the world today. The series hope to offer critical insights into the cutting-edge research being conducted at both institutions, evaluate the ever-changing economic and political landscape in the modern world, and expound on the societal implications.

The Critical Conversation with Economists series kicked off virtually on September 29, 2020, and is open to the public. The monthly seminars will be conducted in English and also shared on website following the event. The first seminar on September 29 featured a discussion between PKU’s Guanghua School of Management Qiao Liu and the Booth School of Business’s Chang-Tai Hsieh.

The two scholars discussed the economic stimulus policies that the Chinese and US governments undertook in response to COVID-19 recession, and shared ideas on the prospects of economic recovery. Dean Liu pointed out that the Chinese government’s quick response to contain the pandemic led to significantly lesser damage to SMEs, consequently allowing an earlier recovery starting in late March. Professor Liu was positive about the outlook of China’s economy, projecting a substantial growth in Q4 and an overall growth rate of 1.5~2% for the year 2020.

In response to professor Hsieh’s question about the “secrets” behind China’s fast recovery, Professor Liu observed four key differences that allowed the Chinese government to take more conservative fiscal measures than the US government, who sent out 4-trillion-dollar stimulus packages. “First and foremost, China has been very successful in containing the virus within two months, thus minimizing the damage to the economy. Secondly, the sector most hit by the pandemic (the service sector) only takes up 56% of China’s economy, whereas it takes up more than 80% of US economy. The high national saving rate gives unemployed citizens more time to find employment. Also, the Chinese government has effective administrative measures to replace economic measures when necessary.”

Finally, Professor Liu called for a new mindset in response to a potential future economic crisis. “Policy makers need to adjust their targets: the high-growth rate period in China’s economy is over. More importantly, we may be facing a very different international environment. It is crucial to shift our focus to domestic markets and solve the supply chain issues.”

© 2019 Guanghua School of Management Peking University