Kenyon Conference Examines Inflation

Political and economic experts will gather for the Center for the Study of American Democracy conference “What’s My Dollar Worth? Inflation’s Causes, Consequences and Cures.”

By David Hoyt ’14

“What’s my dollar worth?”

It’s a question that Americans have been asking frequently ever since the global economy began to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, sending inflation soaring to levels not seen in decades. On March 29-30, 2023, political and economic experts with experience at the Federal Reserve, the Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Congress, as well as from the media and academia, will gather at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, to consider the causes, consequences and cures of inflation at a conference that is open to the public and sponsored by the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD).

“While we may hope that the easing of the pandemic and the actions of the Federal Reserve and other central banks mean that the inflation we have experienced over the past two years will soon be a thing of the past, the experience has nevertheless been unsettling for most of us,” said Professor of Political Science Joseph Klesner, the director of CSAD. “Whether the cures administered to bring prices down will be worse than the disease itself remains an open question in the minds of many, and clearly, we’re not at the end yet. For those reasons, we decided now was an important time to have a campus discussion of inflation.”

The conference will open at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, with a keynote address titled “Inflation, Politics, and Policy: How Do We Learn from History?” delivered by Adam Tooze, author of “Shutdown: How COVID Shook the World’s Economy” and the award-winning “Crashed: How A Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World.” Tooze, considered to be one of the foremost economic historians of his generation, is the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History and Director of the European Institute, Columbia University; he also writes the blog and newsletter Chartbook.

On Thursday, March 30, conference speakers will participate in three moderated panels discussing the reality of contemporary inflation, reviewing historical experiences with inflation and considering alternative proposals for ways of avoiding inflation in the future. Find the full conference schedule here.

Kenyon alumni participating in the conference include Matthew Winkler, Class of 1977, and David Feldman, Class of 1978. Winkler is the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, as well as a Bloomberg columnist on markets and a recipient of numerous awards, including the 2007 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences “Emmy” Lifetime Achievement for business and financial reporting. Feldman is a professor of economics at the College of William & Mary, where he teaches about the economics of higher education and the policy issues facing America’s colleges and universities, and will speak about “College Cost in Inflationary Times” at Kenyon’s Thursday Common Hour, 11:10 a.m. Information about additional panelists can be found here.

“While some faculty and staff at Kenyon have lived through previous periods of high inflation, most younger employees and all of our students have never had the experience of prices rising at the rates they have recently,” said Jeff Bowman, acting president of Kenyon College. “I’m grateful that CSAD will provide the opportunity for the Kenyon community to learn about the historical and economic contexts of our current moment.” 

For more information about “What’s My Dollar Worth? Inflation’s Causes, Consequences and Cures,” contact the Center for the Study of American Democracy at or 740-427-5855. The conference is free and open to all members of the Kenyon community as well as interested members of the public and media.