The lineup of speakers at the first University of Wisconsin – Madison American Economic Challenges Symposium looked like a potential slate of national economic advisors and gave surprisingly similar and positive news for the economy over the next twelve months. Boston Federal Reserve President/CEO Eric Rosengren, Goldman Sachs Economist Jan Hatzius, former Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia Stephen Roach, and UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank each gave an overview of the high points and challenges of the American economy in 2019 and provided commentary on potential policy outcomes heading into 2020. All speakers remained somewhat bullish and predicted that the U.S. could stay out of recession through the end of next year, unless some major precipitating incident occurs.

In addition, the audience heard from Robert Town who spoke on benefit design in healthcare insurance, and outlined a framework of the impacts of potential healthcare policy changes on a national level. The information Town presented indicated national healthcare policy changes by major Democratic presidential candidates could increase the total healthcare sector share of the United States' GDP to greater than 20%. His discussion, however, focused on the rankings of several healthcare indices for top industrialized countries that showed the United States subsidizes world drug research costs and has significantly higher provider and administrative costs that other countries due to regulatory and market forces (such as medical malpractice insurance, etc.).

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