Louis Johnston to deliver 2018 Clemens Lecture Oct. 1

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September 14, 2018

Louis Johnston

Louis Johnston

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A familiar face in classrooms at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University will be giving the 2018 Clemens Lecture.

Louis Johnston, professor of economics at CSB and SJU, will present “How Minnesota’s Economy Became Above Average: Lessons from History” at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU.

The event is free and open to the public.

Johnston specializes in macroeconomics, economic history and the connections between economic policy and economic history. His most recent projects focus on analyzing the evolution of Minnesota’s economy and how Minnesota became “above average” since World War II.

So, how did Minnesota become above average economically?

Minnesota’s income per person was 15 percent below the national average when the United States entered World War II in 1941, but it hadn’t always been that way. Before World War I, Minnesotans enjoyed incomes that were above the national average, but the decline of the flour and lumber milling industries in Minnesota from 1900-20, along with the collapse of agricultural commodity prices in the early 1920s, caused Minnesota to fall behind.

This changed beginning in the early 1940s. In particular, Minnesota grew faster than the national average during the 1950s and 1960s and passed the national average in per person income in 1973, when then-Gov. Wendell Anderson famously appeared on the cover of Time Magazine promoting the “good life in Minnesota.”

Johnston will speak on the evolution of Minnesota manufacturing from processing raw materials, such as grains and timber, to producing innovative consumer and industrial goods - in particular, high-tech products from five Minnesota-based computer companies.

Johnston was a special contributor to the fourth and fifth editions of Principles of Economics by Robert H. Frank and Ben S. Bernanke (McGraw-Hill / Irwin, 2009, 2012), with responsibility for developing and writing all of the macroeconomics chapters along with the study guides and instructor manuals for the third, fourth and fifth editions.

Johnston writes a regular column on economics and the economy for MinnPost and is a regular guest on Minnesota Public Radio and WCCO Radio. He has been interviewed and quoted by the St. Cloud Times, Minneapolis StarTribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Marketplace, CNN, Minnesota News Network and other media.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Minnesota (1983), and his master’s (1987) and Ph.D. (1990) at the University of California, Berkeley, all in economics.

The Clemens Lecture Series was founded to further conversation on the ways that economics can speak to the larger problems of our society and culture. It features outstanding economists noted for their abilities to address the economic dimensions of social issues and to sustain dialogue with the other fields of the liberal arts. It also provides a valuable opportunity for students to meet both informally and in classes with the lecturer.

The lecture series is designed to be practically useful in understanding daily life and is intended for a wide audience, including students, faculty, the business and professional community and members of the general public interested in the impact of economic issues in their lives.

The Clemens Chair in Economics and the Liberal Arts and the Clemens Lecture Series have been made possible by the generosity of William E. and Virginia Clemens.