SARASOTA, Fla. (April 15, 2019) – USF Sarasota-Manatee, Cumberland Advisors and the Global Interdependence Center welcomed students, investors and dozens of local community members to a series of exciting and informative discussions on Thursday as the campus partnered with Cumberland Advisors and the Global Interdependence Center to present “Financial Markets and the Economy: Financial Literacy Day III.”
The daylong forum featured panel discussions on a range of subjects, from U.S. stocks and the global economic outlook to geopolitics, philanthropy and the role journalists play as watchdogs of financial institutions. More than 160 people attended.
Among the panelists were Judith Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Centers for Disease Control; Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation; and Erin McLeod, CEO of Friendship Centers in Sarasota.
Joining them – in addition to the many financial experts – were Susan Harper, Canada’s consul general in Miami and a former economic minister; and Gretchen Morgenson, senior investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal, who delivered the keynote address.
USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Karen Holbrook kicked off the session, thanking the event’s many sponsors, including Cumberland Advisors and its chairman, David Kotok, as well as the Global Interdependence Center, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting dialogue on global issues and creating partnerships between governments.
“These are great, great partners to have to work with us, so we’re really, really grateful to you, David, to Cumberland Advisors, the Global Interdependence Center and to all of our sponsors,” she said. “This is really an exciting day of discussions.”
With financial literacy the theme of the annual forum, many of the speakers offered a mix of financial insights and practical advice, and gave their outlooks for equity markets, trade and the economy. A special discussion by Monroe and Ryerson touched on poverty and how so many societal problems, from to hunger to poor health, are connected to the issue.
In addition, McCleod, who oversees the nonprofit Friendship Centers at six locations in Southwest Florida, said she’s witnessed “a poverty of isolation and loneliness” among seniors, particularly as declining health and financial pressures induce many to separate from friends and family, triggering more problems.
Just as health coverage remains critically important as we age, it’s also vital to become financially literate and invest wisely – and not as middle age as waning, but much sooner, she said.
“If we could get people to understand the power of investing, the power of taking just a small percentage and investing it in your own future, we would see much less of the strife, struggle and panic that people have when they come to us, just living on that financial cliff,” McCleod said.
Harper’s talk focused on Canada’s economic relationship with the United States, and, in particular, Florida.
Anyone who calls the Sunshine State home understands firsthand the seasonal influx of Canadian visitors, but few may grasp how deeply its economic relationship with Canada goes, especially when it comes to investment and exports, Harper said.
Currently, Canadians own about $3.8 billion worth of residential real estate in Florida – which produces to about a half billion dollars in property taxes annually – and the nation remains Florida’s largest source of international tourists. About 3.5 million Canadians – roughly 10 percent of Florida’s population – visit here annually.
“Number two is the U.K., with about half that number,” said Harper.
Canada also remains one of the Florida’s largest trading partners, with $6.5 billion in goods exported there in 2018 – about 13 percent of Florida’s export total. Brazil is the biggest importer of Florida products.
Investigative reporter Morgenson, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Times columnist, rounded out the daylong session. Her talk focused on the role journalists play in monitoring financial institutions and how that role is shrinking as news organizations cut staff and continue to struggle financially.
Those cuts, which started at the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, are accelerating as consumer protections against predatory lending are being rolled back and as banks and insurance companies are growing in size and clout. In 2017, financial institutions and insurance firms accounted for 7.5 percent of gross domestic product in the United States, almost double from the 1970s, she said.
“Obviously financial scandals and crises have been with us forever, but I do believe that they’ve increased dramatically in recent years,” Morgenson said. “… As these events become more and more frequent and more and more devastating, it is even more problematic when you understand that the number of reporters out there covering them is in decline.
“So in a time when the financial world is increasing in complexity, the ranks of reporters who can fathom these debacles is declining,” she said.
The forum, the third annual Financial Literacy Day, is part of a series of discussions presented by USFSM, Cumberland Advisors and the Global Interdependence Center. Previous talks have focused on climate change and the U.S. relationship with Cuba and the Caribbean.
A follow-up talk focusing on Cuba-U.S. relations is tentatively set for November.
For more information about the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, visit usfsm.edu/.