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European Professor Gives Perspective on Economic Crisis

With the nonstop headlines of bailouts, foreclosures, and the stimulus package, it’s easy to forget that the current economic crisis is not limited to the United States.

Dr. Andrej Kumar is a professor of international economics and business at the University of Ljubljana, in the former Yugoslav country of Slovenia. He’s visiting Drury University in Springfield, where he’s giving guest lectures.

Dr. Kumar has lived through his country’s transition from communism to democracy, and he played a prominent role in establishing the nation’s membership to the European Union. He took a few minutes this week to sit down with KSMU's Jennifer Moore and chat about how the global financial crisis is taking shape beyond America’s borders.

Dr. Kumar said the Slovenian economy is a free-market economy, with some parts of the economic sector being state-owned.

Kumar says the economic crisis began in the U.S., and Germany and the United Kingdom have really felt the crisis in their own countries. Slovenia, he said, has been slower to feel the impact because it is less connected to other global markets.

When demand began to decrease in those industries affecting Germany and other EU members, it began to affect Slovenia. These industries particularly include the auto industry and the home appliance industry.

Now, he says unemployment is rising. This, in turn, is causing Europeans to have trouble paying off their debts, much as they are in the U.S.

Kumar said from his outside perspective, the U.S. economic stimulus package has pros and cons: he believes the financial sector needed restructuring. But he feels perhaps the money put toward sectors which are not "prospective," like car producers, could have been better placed. But on the other hand, he says if you don't give money to these companies, then unemployement may spiral out of control.

He said he agrees with the plan's investment in education, but it will not give short-term results.

Dr. Kumar plans to return home at the end of this month.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.