September 09, 2004

Leading economist to discuss outsourcing

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - A leading international economist will present the annual Vandeveer chair lecture in economics next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Professor Arvind Panagariya of Columbia University will discuss The Outsourcing Debate: Sorting out the Confusions," at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16, in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building Auditorium.

Panagariya (pronounced Pana-gar-ee-ya) has been the chief economist of the Asian Development Bank, and has advised the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. He holds a doctorate in economics from Princeton University.

This summer, Panagariya became the first Jagdish Bhagwati Professor in Indian Political Economy at Columbia University.

The event is free and open to the public.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover Panagariya's lecture. To arrange an interview earlier in the day, contact professor Sajal Lahiri, Vandeveer chair of economics, at 618/536-7746.

Professor Sajal Lahiri, Vandeveer chair of economics at SIUC, believes the topic of outsourcing is of interest to everyone in the region. Panagariya will discuss outsourcing historically, and existing misconceptions about the practice. He will also discuss its magnitude in the United States and whether it is good or bad for the nation's economy, Lahiri said.

"It has relevance for local jobs to the extent that Carbondale is part of the international economy," he said. "Carbondale is part of the U.S. economy and the United States is part of the international economy."

In addition, this is an issue in the presidential campaign.

"This will be a very topical subject," said Lahiri. "Both sides of the election have been talking about outsourcing when talking about economic policies."

Panagariya said in a summary that the current debate over outsourcing "is marred by confusions regarding the precise phenomenon that it represents, and whether it is something to which the conventional principles of international trade may not apply."

He said many people confuse outsourcing ­ currently debated as the arm's-length purchases of services principally by electronic means such as the telephone, fax and Internet ­ with direct foreign investment.

"By all counts, the number of outsourced jobs is tiny and is predicted to remain so in the next decade," he said. "Nor will it lead to U.S. programmers being bumped down to bagging groceries. More likely, the U.S. workers will move up the ladder, as happened, for instance, when many secretarial jobs were replaced by computer tech support jobs."

Before coming to Columbia, Panagariya was a professor of economics and co-director at the Center for International Economics at the University of Maryland. He has written or edited more than a half dozen books, including "The Economics of Preferential Trade Agreements" and

"The Global Trading System and Developing Asia." He has also written several guest columns for various publications, including The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared on television and radio programs on subjects involving economics.

The Vandeveer chair was endowed in 1960 through a gift of Ashland Oil and Refining Co. stock made to SIUC by the late philanthropist W.W. Vandeveer, a University alumnus. The Vandeveer chair is the first endowed chair at SIUC.

Promoting programming for the University community and region that involves individuals with national or international distinction is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.