UW-Madison Home Division of International Studies
About Initiatives Programs Conferences Alumni Resources Calendar



Stephen Roach gave a lecture on China's economics April 2 at Union South's Varsity Hall. (Photos by Todd Brown of UWSMPH Media Solutions)

Roach lecture on China economics draws capacity crowd

Wall Street economist Stephen Roach (’68 BA Economics) discussed the economics of China to a standing-room-only crowd at Union South’s Varsity Hall Wednesday, April 2. His lecture, “America and China: An Unsustainable Codependency,” marked the first in the “2014 China and Global Economics Lecture Series,” coordinated through the Wisconsin China Initiative (WCI).

Click here to see the WisLine web cast of the April 2 Stephen Roach talk.

Roach hats“It is with our students in mind that we launched this lecture series,” said WCI Faculty Director Nicole Huang, professor of Chinese literature and visual culture.

“I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see all our chairs filled today,” said WCI Advisory Board Chair Wade Fetzer to the audience of mostly students. “Our goal is to awaken this campus with what is going on in China, and the impact that is going to have on every one of you in terms of the global economy.”

The Wisconsin China Initiative offered free Badger-red WCI hats to the first 200 attendees at the event, which were handed out by members of the Global Economic Forum student association (see the photo above).

Dr. Roach, now a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, spent the bulk of his career with New York-based investment bank Morgan Stanley, where he served as chief economist and later chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia. In 2011, the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) honored him with its Distinguished Alumni AwardRoach Union SouthHe switched from engineering to economics as a UW undergraduate in the 1960s, then went on to earn his Ph.D. in economics at New York University.

At the April 2 talk, he described America and China as “mirror images of one another,” with America as the ultimate consumer and China the ultimate producer.

“We need China – for goods, financial capital, and for buying our treasuries – and China, of course, needs us,” he said, showing graphs of China’s export model.

Dr. Roach described his concerns about the unhealthy trends of co-dependence, and about America’s economic complacency and reliance on “the invisible hand” of the market, while China strategically transforms to a more consumer-based society.  However he also pointed out the “silver lining” of potential in China’s growing service sector and other areas.

“We need to look to the next China as a growth opportunity for us,” he said. “China is our third largest, and most rapidly growing, major export market.  The potential to export into that is spectacular.”

Roach prize booksDr. Roach’s talk was based on his recent book, “Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China,” three copies of which were given away to students through a prize drawing at the end of the talk.  (See photo at right.)

The second lecture in the series, to be held in October, will feature Nicholas Lardy (’68 BA Economics), senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C.

"The new 'China and Global Economics Lecture Series' is a perfect platform for bringing together faculty, staff, students, alumni and business leaders to discuss issues related to China," said Professor Huang.

The lecture series is coordinated and funded through the Wisconsin China Initiative, which is part of the Division of International Studies. The East Asian Legal Studies Center is a series sponsor partner. Other cosponsors of Roach’s lecture are the Global Economic Forum, the Center for International Business Education & Research (CIBER), the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, and the Center for East Asian Studies.

Click here to read the Roach lecture preview, “Alum Roach to speak April 2 on Sino-US economic relations.”


Roach questions

Above: Students continued asking questions after the conclusion of the lecture.

Below, left: Welcoming students to the talk was WCI Advisory Board Chair (and fellow economics alumnus) Wade Fetzer. Below, right: College of Letters & Science Dean Karl Scholz made a humerous reference to Dr. Roach's undergraduate-era beard by showing photos of some more recent "bearded economists."

Roach FetzerRoach Scholz


Division of International Studies LogoDivision of International Studies

The Center for East Asian Studies LogoThe Center for East Asian Studies


Click here to learn about President Obama’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China.



Copyright © 2011 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.

Wisconsin China Initiative, Division of International Studies, 500 Lincoln Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

phone: 608.265.6640 email: ldennis@international.wisc.edu