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Award-winning journalist to speak on the ethical implications of the Great Recession

How did it happen? Who is to blame? Why aren’t more people being thrown in jail? What lessons can we learn from it? These are the kinds of questions many of us have about the Great Recession, and there may be no one more qualified to answer them than award-winning journalist, James B. Stewart.

Stewart will discuss “Back from the Brink: The Causes and Ethical Implications of the Great Recession” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, in the Doré Theatre at California State University, Bakersfield. Stewart’s talk is the 26th Annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture, presented by the Kegley Institute of Ethics at CSUB. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is free in Lots A, B, C, D, K and L.

“While we are seeing signs of economic recovery, there are still many people hurting and fearful about the future,” said Dr. Christopher Meyers, director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics and professor of philosophy at CSUB. “That so many people have suffered, while others were enriched, is a profoundly important moral question, one that gets at the ethical foundations of our economic system. Stewart’s reporting is incredibly first-hand; it is like he was in the room with the nation’s key decision-makers.”

Stewart has reported extensively on the financial crisis that hit the nation in 2008 and 2009, when the housing bubble burst, banks collapsed, and the government stepped in to stop the Great Recession from reaching the severity of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Ethical questions range from who was at fault for the collapse to who benefited most from the bailouts.

Government intervention “made a mockery of the notion of ‘moral hazard,’ a guiding principle of economics which posits that unless actors bear the consequences of their actions they will act recklessly,” Stewart wrote in the New Yorker article “Eight Days,” in which he detailed the economic collapse of 2008.

Stewart contributes to both the New York Times and New Yorker magazine and is the Bloomberg Professor of Business and Economic Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his Wall Street Journal series on insider trading that led to his nonfiction novel “Den of Thieves.” He has authored several other books, including “Bloodsport,” about the Whitewater scandal, and “DisneyWar,” about Michael Eisner’s role as CEO of Disney. His most recent book, which he will sign at the event, is “Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America.”

The Kegley Memorial Lecture is sponsored by Mercy Healthcare Bakersfield, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, San Joaquin Community Hospital and Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, with additional support from Peter Wollesen of Wells Fargo Advisors, Mestmaker & Petry Wealth Advisors, and Valley Public Radio.

For more information about the Kegley Institute of Ethics, call 661-654-2555 or visit

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