Walker School Faculty Expertise in the News: Supply chain, cyber and more

Webster University faculty members in the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology have had several recent appearances in news media citing their expertise for context on topics in labor, economics, supply chain challenges, personal finance, the automotive industry -- and one fantastic Halloween display.

Palmer on Labor Shortage...and Halloween Displays

Professor Julie Palmer was quoted in a story in Business Insider about the labor shortage, which it said is partly influenced by a steep decline in immigration to the U.S.:

"When you don't have the truck drivers and we don't have the people that are working in construction, then economics says prices are going to go up," said Julie Palmer, a human-resource professor at Webster University.

Read the full article at Business Insider.

Separately, and on the lighter side, Palmer was featured in th Call Newspapers for a completely different topic -- her epic Halloween yard displays.

"The yard features 36 small skeletons and nine life-size ones, each a part of a scene. Scenes can include fishing, barbecuing or playing sports. Palmer’s favorite setup is a pair of mechanic skeletons working on a Barbie car on her driveway. ... Each skeleton is complete with clothing or other props and the setup is a weekend affair."

Read the full story and see a picture of Palmer with one of the skeletons in a Webster University t-shirt.

MacNeill on Supply Chain Shocks during COVID

Political economics professor Allan MacNeill, who teaches programs in the Walker School and the College of Arts & Sciences, was interviewed for over 10 minutes live on KTRS 550 AM radio about current global supply-chain issues and what consumers can do to mitigate the impacts on the holidays.

"In normal times, the supply chain is something we take for granted, it's basically invisible," he said. "But after COVID, that produced quite a shock and now everyone is well aware.

"The biggest shock to the supply side was how COVID shut down factories, such as in China, quarantined workers, ports that were shut down, production overall that was cut back. At the same time, demand increased: Consumers were buying more -- or were trying to -- and there was a shift in demand from services, things like travel and restaurants, to physical goods. So the basic issue on a macro level is the supply is lagging and taking a while to catch up to demand."

Ellison on Automotive Industry Trends

Economics professor Mitchell Ellison also discussed the supply chain among other topics when interviewed live on KMOX 1120 AM radio about trends in the automotive industry. He discussed everything from how cars are becoming more technologically sophisticated to what happens to the batteries in electric cars after the car is no longer operational.

Discussing the future-is-near role of connectivity in auto production, Ellison said, "Your car, your computer, your phone -- all three of those are merging. You already see manufacturers advertise a seamless transition from your car to work and in between."

Ellison said companies are racing to master this connectivity convergence and it is likely to increase the price of new cars.

The interview is available online here.

Risik on 0% Interest Offers

Finance professor Elizabeth Risik was interviewed by WalletHub about the benefits and pitfalls are to getting a credit card that promises a 0% interest rate as an introductory offer.

Asked if 0% offers are a trap, Risik said: "They can be, but they do not have to be! It is very important to find out what the interest rate will increase to after the introductory 0% period."

She said sometimes these 0% introductory rates can be useful to finance a large purchase, like a new refrigerator or mattress, that you do not have the cash for — but it is important to then use it only for that purchase and make a personal payment plan to pay it off before the 0% ends.

Read the full interview at WalletHub here.

D. Smith on Natural Gas Utility Dispute

Professor Dustin Smith was interviewed by CBS affiliate KMOV for its evening news about a letter that local natural gas utility Spire sent to all customers warning of natural gas shortages in St. Louis due to the outcome of a lawsuit filed against the company.

Asked for his reaction, the associate professor of Corporate Social Responsibility said the message may be the company’s opportunity to generate buzz over keeping the pipeline after it has failed through the courts.

“Strikes me as a little bit of fear-mongering. I mean what better way to influence your environment than getting people riled up,” Smith said. “It’s a tactic that corporations can use and in a lot of ways it can be pretty effective, and so that’s kind of what I see here. They want to get people emailing their congressmen and women and putting pressure on the government, kind of through a different channel than what they have already.”

Read or watch the story at KMOV here.

Curtis on Russian Hacks and Microsoft

Cybersecurity faculty member Jim Curtis was interviewed by Voice of America about suspected Russian hacks of a Microsoft Cloud Service.

Curtis, a retired U.S. Air Force cyber officer and a former IT industry executive, said MSPs [Managed Service Providers] do not like to admit they have been hacked.

“They don't want to share that their users’ information has been stolen, because it may hurt their bottom line and may hurt their stock prices, and so they try to handle that internally,” he said.

Read the full story at VOA here.

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