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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Georgetown Public Policy Institute Whittington Lecture, 2008: The Honorable Michael Bloomberg

Gaston Hall
September 17, 2008


Thank you Dean Gormley….

It is my pleasure to welcome Mayor Bloomberg to Georgetown again. He is no stranger to this stage:

• Just this past spring he was here discussing the importance of sustainability initiatives as part of the second Newsweek Global Environment Leadership Conference;

• And in March of 2007, he was here for the US. Treasury and McDonough School of Business’s conference on capital markets.

Mr. Mayor, today as always, it is a privilege to have you here.

As you all know, Michael Bloomberg has achieved incredible success throughout his career:

• In his early days on Wall Street, he founded a small, innovative financial software and information service, Bloomberg L.P. … Established in 1981, it has since grown to employ 10,000 people in 130 offices around the globe… And it boasts the world’s fastest-growing, real-time financial information network.

• As his corporate empire grew, Mike Bloomberg started to donate more and more time and resources to philanthropic causes… One such recipient of his generosity was his alma mater Johns Hopkins University. In recognition of his commitment to the school—and to public health issues in general—Johns Hopkins renamed the School of Public Health in his honor.

• Finally, in 2001, Mike Bloomberg turned his focus more directly to public service, and by running for public office in New York City, became Mayor Bloomberg.

Mr. Mayor welcome again. And thank you for agreeing to talk about a topic very much on everyone’s minds right now—the current economic downturn.

The first half of our evening will be a conversation between the Mayor and I—with me asking the questions, and the Mayor offering his words of wisdom… And then for the second half, we will ask Mayor Bloomberg to answer questions submitted by the audience…

This has been quite a week for New York City and for the financial sector at-large. The Dow dropped 500 points in one day—the biggest single-day drop since 2001 when the markets first opened after the 9-11 attacks …Lehman Brothers collapsed and Merrill Lynch agreed to be bought by Bank of America… So now, since March, three of America’s largest investment houses have failed or been bought … And the market opened this morning with a steep drop, despite the federal government’s unprecedented $85 billion bailout for insurer, American International Group.

And to put this in a larger context, the real estate bubble we’d been riding for so long burst last year and has caused more hardship than many had predicted. Housing prices are dropping… New construction is at a 17-year low ….. And the giant mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were, as the New York Times put it, “effectively nationalized earlier this month.”

I hope you and our audience will forgive me for painting such a grim picture, but I think it’s important to set the backdrop for our conversation.

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