Oct. 26, 2011
Law school blog helps explain, analyze global economic problems
Trying to make sense of the complicated problems facing the global economy can be tricky, but a blog written by a group of University of Iowa law school analysts might be able to help.
The blog is maintained by students and faculty in the UI Center for International Finance and Development (UICIFD) who provide updates several times a week about the economic situation in a particular country or region of the world. The posts, however, are aimed at general readers, and so are written in clear language that makes a complex issue easier to understand.
"We try to explain in layman's terms what's going on and why it's important in the global economic context," says Sean Williams, a third-year law student and managing editor of the blog. "The media are usually able to explain what happened or who did something, but don't always cover why it happened. We want to explain the why."
The blog is located at http://uicifd.blogspot.com/.
The six bloggers on staff are UI law students who are studying international finance and development issues and overseen by Enrique Carrasco, a law professor, international development specialist and director of the UICIFD. They cover the usual hot spots and global economic tribulations: the debt crisis in Greece, for instance, the global Occupy Wall Street protests, and efforts by the Federal Reserve to spark the economy using monetary policy.
But the blog also covers stories about Brazil's improving higher education system, the growth of start-ups in Chile, and infrastructure development in Africa. Williams says the bloggers are careful to look at other countries to make sure important stories are covered that aren't getting as much attention elsewhere in the media. Williams says they are discouraged from writing about the same country or the same topic too many times so they don't fall into the trap of repetition.
"It would be easy to write every week about Mexico and Brazil, but you can't forget about Venezuela or Panama because important news is happening in those countries, too," he says. "We also want to focus on development issues as well as finance, because we see a lot of financial stories in the news but not as much about international development."
Williams says the bloggers keep their analyses free of ideology or politics and use a variety of news stories to approach an issue from different angles. They shy away from opinion pieces and focus on straight news articles and reports from various sources.
The bloggers are also encouraged to focus more on international news sources that many American readers might not normally see. As a result, news organizations like Reuters, Financial Times, BBC, The Economist, and the Jerusalem Post are often cited. Even local news organizations show up, such as the Fumagusta Gazette, a Cyprus-based newspaper that was a source in a story about whether Cyprus might be the next casualty of the European debt crisis.
"We see ourselves as providing a service for people who don't have the time to dig deep into a story and we don't want to turn them off because it seems like we're taking a position on a topic," he says. "Our readers don't care if we agree with something, they just want to know what's going on."
The UICIFD's website has several other components designed to help financial neophytes understand the world of global finance and development, including briefing papers, FAQs, a poll (which currently asks whether Greece should pull out of the Eurozone), and an e-book that provide in-depth background on global legal, economic, and financial issues. The entire website is at http://blogs.law.uiowa.edu/ebook/.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACTS: Enrique Carrasco, professor of law and director of the UI Center for International Finance and Development, 319-335-9059, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tom Snee, University News Services, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell), email@example.com