DEBTx spurs discussion on debt

Patrick Barron/Daily
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By Alex Schwartz, For the Daily
Published April 13, 2013

DEBTx, a new student organization on campus, held its first annual debt conference Friday in South Hall.

The conference featured seven speakers each discussing a different aspect of debt. Discussion sessions and short videos were also featured in the conference, which lasted about two and a half hours. The purpose of the event was to spark discussion about debt and inspire action.

DEBTx was created by University alum Kinnard Hockenhull and Business senior Ryan Strauss. The organization's goal is to help students understand the role of debt in society and to explore it through four angles: political, social, financial and philosophical. Strauss said he was pleased with the outcome of the event.

“Today's event did a great job of providing a multitude of perspectives for attendees to come to new realizations about the role of debt in their lives and in society at large,” Strauss said. “This process of rethinking debt and its role in one's life can be acted upon through these emerging alternatives (or through) traditional uses of money.”

Each of the seven speakers came from different backgrounds and offered their own perspective on the benefits and problems with debt in today's world in 15-minute segments.

Business Assistant Prof. Scott Rick discussed personal debt and the mistakes consumers make when managing multiple debts.

“We need to understand what's driving the debt problem,” Rick said. “The problem is there's a lot of ingredients, so it's really hard to make it go away.”

Public Policy and Economics Prof. Alan Deardorff discussed the issue of developing countries taking on large amounts of debt.

“The institutions, the rich countries, that want to help the poorest of developing countries shouldn't do it by lending the money, that just creates problems for them later on,” Deardorff said.

From a business perspective, Scott Edwardson of Edgewood Management — a portfolio management firm — warned of the dangers of inflation and what the government is doing to prevent it from becoming a problem. Hodge introduced time banking, a banking system that keeps track of service performed in terms of hours and allows community members to give to the community when they can and take from the community when they need.

Hockenhull, the co-organizer of the event, presented on his bitcoin exchange business, BitBox. Bitcoin is a new, experimental form of currency that is decentralized and completely digital.

LSA freshman Jeff Yu, a member of Debtx, said the organization hopes to expand and continue the annual conference while also adding other events throughout the year, including a “Debtx Weekend.”

“I think we did plant an idea, but we could've had more room for discussion and question and answer,” Yu said. “We're looking into partnering up with other organizations.”

Public Policy senior Frank Quinn said made him think differently about debt.

“It increased salience on it for me," said. “I'm definitely more interested in debt now.”