University of Pittsburgh
October 6, 2008

How Does Today's Economic Crisis Compare to the Great Depression?

Pitt faculty experts are available to discuss various aspects of both crises, from corporate, commercial, and tax law to the economies, even how to cope in stressful times
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-As the American and global markets struggle through a massive downturn, people wonder whether we could face a repeat of the Great Depression. Faculty experts at the University of Pittsburgh are available to discuss the similarities and differences between the current crisis and that of the 1930s, and the ways in which we are more protected and more vulnerable, economically, legally, and psychologically. These experts can compare the causes of the 1929 crash to those factors behind today's mortgage meltdown. They also can discuss how present national and global economies differ in strength and makeup from those of 75-plus years ago.


Jay Sukits, an assistant professor of business administration in Pitt's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, can compare the aftermath of the 1929 crash to today's economic climate. He can discuss the causes of the Great Depression and today's subprime mortgage meltdown and the differences and similarities between the economies then and now. Sukits, who spent 20 years as an investment banker, researches capital market efficiency, corporate finance, securities valuation, and portfolio management.

Sukits has held senior positions at Salomon Brothers, E.F. Hutton & Co., Equilease Corp., Smith Barney, and PNC. He also advised such major corporations as DuPont, Sun Oil Co., U.S. Air, and PECO on cash management, capital structure, and capital market activities. Sukits may be reached at and 412-648-1709, or through Amanda Leff at 412-624-4238 (office), 412-337-3350 (cell), and


"Think carefully about what is happening," advises Pitt professor Andrew Koffmann, director of the School of Arts and Sciences' Clinical Psychology Center. Koffmann says it's all too common for people to become nervous or frightened simply because others are, or because they don't fully understand the financial news or its implications. Koffmann is available to discuss how to handle anxiety and why it is important not to eat or drink in excess during stressful times.

In his position at Pitt, Koffmann oversees a clinic that provides a wide array of outpatient psychological services for children and adults, ranging from group psychotherapy to individual, couples, or family counseling. He may be reached at 412-624-2077 or, or through Sharon Blake at 412-624-4364 (office), 412-277-6926 (cell), and


Douglas M. Branson, W. Edward Sell Chair in Business Law at Pitt, is one of the leading corporate law experts in the country and a prolific writer whose work has been described as the best "traditional" corporate scholarship currently being done.

Branson's most recent book is "No Seat at the Table: How Corporate Governance and Law Keep Women Out of the Boardroom" (New York University Press, 2006). In addition, he has published numerous articles and books relating to corporate law, including the treatises "Corporate Governance" (Lexis Law Pub. 1993, with annual supplements), "Corporate Governance Problems" (Lexis Nexis, 1997), "Understanding Corporate Law"(Lexis Nexis, 1999, with A. Pinto), and "Questions and Answers on Business Organizations" (Lexis Nexis, 2003).

As an elected member of the American Law Institute since 1981, Branson had an influential role in framing the institute's recommendations for corporate governance and is a leading expert on the corporate law aspects of Alaska native corporations. Branson may be reached at 412-624-3437 (office), or, or through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or

Haider Ala Hamoudi is an associate professor of law; among his areas of expertise is commercial law. He has written about commercial law for numerous law review journals, spoken at conferences, and given interviews to various news organizations, including the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette", Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and the "New York Law Journal."

Hamoudi served as a law clerk to the Honorable Constance Baker Motley in the Southern District of New York and as an associate at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton. His other areas of expertise include Islamic law and the intersection of Islamic law and commercial law in the contemporary era. He also is the author of the Islamic Law blog Islamic Law in Our Times. He may be reached at 412-624-1055 (office), or, or through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or

Anthony C. Infanti, Pitt professor of law, specializes in taxation, especially the intersection of tax and comparative legal theory and critical tax theory, which addresses the impact of the tax system on traditionally subordinated groups. He has authored articles relating to international taxation and the application of comparative legal theory to taxation that have appeared in such publications as the "Florida Tax Review," the "Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law," the "University of Pittsburgh Law Review," the T"ax Management International Journal," and "Taxes" magazine.

Infanti's work in the area of critical tax theory has been published in the "Buffalo Law Review," the "Santa Clara Law Review," the "Whittier Law Review," "Unbound: The Harvard Journal of the Legal Left," the "Saint Louis University Public Law Review," and "The Tax Lawyer." Infanti may be reached at 412-648-1244 (office), or, or through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or