Carnegie Mellon University

IPS Policy Forum


The political turmoil in the United States in the past four years has a ripple effect that reaches farther than division internally and skepticism overseas. It could trickle down to our currency.

“Political checks and balances matter for international investors,” said Dr. Barry Eichengreen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who joined Carnegie Mellon for an IPS Policy Forum event. “The robustness of political checks and balances in the United States has at least been tarnished by the experience of the last four years, so maybe we do have to worry about the perception that there has been an erosion of those political checks in the United States, and that will encourage diversification away from the dollar.”

View a recording of Dr. Eichengreen's talk on Carnegie Mellon's Media Services site. Be sure to use your Andrew ID to log in.

Eichengreen represents the caliber of thought leader that the IPS Policy Forum brings to the CMU community. He is the George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Professor of Political Science at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1987. He is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research. In the late 1990s, he was the Senior Policy Advisor at the International Monetary Fund.

“I think one has to worry about the erosion of US security alliances in the last four years,” Eichengreen said. “If you look at the available data, you see that countries that rely on the US for their security umbrellas hold a larger share of their foreign reserves in dollars than their trade with us would lead one to predict.”

The Policy Forum represents one of the means by which the Institute for Politics and Strategy integrates international relations and politics into the intellectual conversation at Carnegie Mellon University. The program brings statesmen, scholars, policymakers, journalists, and other thought leaders to the university to address major issues facing the United States and the world.

Recent speakers include former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best; Barbara Barrett, the Secretary of the Air Force; Robert O'Brien, the former National Security Advisor; and Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the former US Ambassador to Malta. By inviting guests with such breadth and depth of experience in national security, international relations, and politics to campus, whether in person or in a remote format, the Policy Forum exposes students from all courses of study at Carnegie Mellon to real-world insight.

In Eichengreen’s presentation, which argued that the dollar will not fall as much in 2021 as some might think, that real-world insight took the form of tying current events to the dollar with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the actions of the Trump administration.

“The logic now is, once the lockdowns are over, people are getting vaccinated, people are going to rush out and spend,” he said. “There will be the release of pent-up demand. Is that obviously the case? I would argue that history suggests not.” 

Eichengreen also warned about the long-term effects of the disruption of the workforce and education, drawing from the Spanish Flu in the early 20th century and school closings in the 1950s.

“They translate into permanently lower incomes by implication, probably into lower productivity for school-age folks all through their subsequent lives,” he said. “I think there’s a lot to worry about there, and a lot to think about in terms of what might be done now in order to heal those scars while there’s still time.” 

As always, our lectures are free and open to the public. Please email our Program Manager with any questions or for more information. 

*Lecture titles and topics are subject to change. 


Wyndee Parker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's National Security Advisor since 2009 and the former Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, visited IPS in August 2020.


Marcia Chatelain, a Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University, joined IPS to speak about Breonna Taylor and race in America.

Humanities Initiative

For many years, the Institute for Politics and Strategy and the Humanities Scholars Program in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences have brought to the university scholars and other thinkers whose work is equally relevant for the humanities and the social sciences. The Humanities Initiative has evolved from this joint venture with the purpose of inviting guests to lecture and converse with faculty and students, thus enriching the cross-disciplinary research and teaching that are hallmarks of Carnegie Mellon University. Activities under this initiative are co-hosted by Professor Kiron K. Skinner, director of the Center for International Relations and Politics, and Dr. Tim Haggerty, director of the Humanities Scholars Program. 

Women in the Social Sciences       

Women in the Social Sciences (WSS), a joint initiative of the IPS Policy Forum and the Office of the Director of Undergraduate Economics, brings to campus women who are leaders in their fields to speak about their professional journeys. The program seeks to inform the conversation at Carnegie Mellon about the challenges women face at each stage of their professional lives and provide unique networking opportunities for university faculty, administrators, and students. WSS events are co-hosted by Professor Kiron K. Skinner, director of the Center for International Relations and Politics, and Dr. Carol B. Goldburg, director of Undergraduate Economics.