Leading Author and Historian to Discuss Origins of Economic Downturn

John Steele Gordon to speak as Part of S.C. Davis Lecture Series

What: John Steele Gordon, a leading author, columnist and historian, will deliver a lecture, “Where Economists Went Wrong” as part of the Shelby Cullom Davis Endowment Series. The event is free and open to the public.

When:  Monday, October 15 at 8:15 p.m.

Where: Rittenberg Lounge in Mather Hall on the Trinity campus, 300 Summit Street.

Background: Gordon, who writes a column on business history for Barron’s called “The Long View” and formerly wrote about the business of America for American Heritage Magazine, will discuss how the United States “got into the present economic mess, due in part to a failure on the part of economists to understand their subject.”

His arguments will focus on the fact that economists have been using the wrong paradigm for the last two centuries -- with often disastrous consequences. As Gordon put it, “An economy is not a machine or ‘Copernican universe,’ to use Keynes’s phrase, but an ecosystem.” Secondly, human nature, one of the natural and therefore ineluctable forces in the human universe, has been largely ignored by economists, who have been unable to translate human nature and its profound consequences into equations.

After serving on Congressional staffs, Gordon turned to writing and has been a full-time writer for the past 25 years. His latest book, An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power, published in 2004, is a history of the American economy.

Other books include a history of Wall Street, The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power, 1653-2000, which was published in 1999. A two-hour special based on The Great Game aired on CNBC in April 2000. Gordon’s history of the laying of the Atlantic Cable, A Thread Across the Ocean, was published in 2002.

The Scarlet Woman of Wall Street, a history of Wall Street in the 1860s, was published in 1988, and Hamilton’s Blessing: the Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt, was published in 1997 and an updated version was published in 2010.

Gordon has had articles published in Forbes, American History, National Review, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, among other newspapers and magazines.

He is a contributing editor at Philanthropy, and wrote the "Business of America" column from 1989 to 2007 for American Heritage where he was also a contributing editor. A collection of his columns from American Heritage entitled, The Business of America, was published in 2001. He is a frequent contributor to Commentary and its blog, “Contentions.”

Gordon is also a commentator on Marketplace, the public radio business news program heard on more than 200 stations throughout the country. He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including New York: A Documentary Film by Ric Burns; Business Center; Larry Kudlow; On the Record with Greta Van Susteren; Squawk Box on CNBC; The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS; 20/20 on ABC; and Matt Miller on Bloomberg. He was a guest in 2001 on a live, two-hour edition of Booknotes with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN. He recently appeared on two History Channel specials entitled, “Crash: The Next Great Depression?” and “Ripped Off: Madoff and the Scamming of America.”

Steele earned a B.A. in history from Vanderbilt University in 1966.