Glassman tells students, Chase employees that Kentucky job trends are ‘on their way back’

Cameron Koch

Jim Glassman started his discussion on Tuesday night in the Mass Media and Technology Hall auditorium by emphasizing that times are hard to a room of students sprinkled among many JPMorgan Chase bank employees.

Glassman’s message wasn’t without hope.

“It’s a tough market,” started Glassman, who is the head economist at Chase Commercial Banking and a frequent speaker on economics.

He was the first to admit that the United States’ current economic situation is less than stellar, but remained optimistic about the present and the future.

JPMorgan Chase and Co. presented the speech and following discussion with many employees of the company present.

Glassman proceeded to explain various charts and graphs, the first of which represented the state of Kentucky.

“Layoffs are back to normal. The lights are coming back on,” Glassman said. “Kentucky job trends are on the way back.”

While he said that normalcy was a good sign, it wasn’t enough.

“We have to keep growing,” Glassman said. “There are reasons to believe we are getting there.”

Glassman explained how he didn’t understand talk of dipping into another recession. To him, the nation never left one. The tsunami that hit Japan and turmoil in the Middle East earlier this year are Glassman’s prime examples in the current economic slowdown.

The auto industry, Glassman said, was crippled by the tsunami as Japanese auto manufacturers could not create and ship parts to plants to the U.S. Exploding oil prices during and after the unrest in the Middle East also put a dent in economic recovery. 

Another hot economic topic that Glassman hit on was the housing market.

“A big piece of our economy is asleep,” Glassman said.

Unemployment also played a role in the current poor condition of the housing and home building market, he said.

“Lots of people who don’t have a job are suspending life,” Glassman said. “They aren’t getting married, not buying a house.”

Glassman also had much to say about government spending, and in particular, healthcare spending. According to Glassman, healthcare spending such as Medicare and Medicaid is expected to steadily rise over the years, consuming all the government’s resources.

“It’s going to become a real big problem,” Glassman said. “We don’t really know how to manage costs.”

During the discussion several other topics were brought up such as the political debate recently between Republicans and Democrats about raising the nation’s debt ceiling and President Obama’s “Obamacare” program.

While Glassman didn’t oppose or favor the program, he believed “it was a distraction we didn’t need.” He did, however, believe that the debate between parties on the debt ceiling was a good and healthy thing.

After the event, Louis Straub, a division manager for JPMorgan, agreed both on Glassman’s optimism for recovery as well as healthy political discussion.

“The discussion and debate is healthy for our country,” Straub said. “I think it’s going to be a slow process.

“You have to be optimistic about America. We individually have to take responsibility.”

Jorge Wellman, a graduate student and Hall Director at WKU, found the speech and following discussion interesting.

“It was interesting to see his perspective on healthcare reform — helped my understanding of it,” Wellman said. “Personally I thought it was extremely helpful.”

One of Glassman’s last comments during the discussion was that he believed the government and the Federal Reserve have done much to help the economy, but they can’t fix it alone.

“The government and the fed are the coach,” Glassman said. “It’s what we do that matters.”