Taking members of the Advisory Council through a semester of Economics in just over an hour, Salley gave an overview of economic theory, historical applications and a look at today's situation.
"Everyone is so focused on the current situation, what I want to do is put this in perspective. Everyone's running around saying 'Oh we don't know what's going on and this is the worst it's ever happened.' Well people have a very short memory. This is not the worst it happens at all -- it can get worse, I hate to tell you that but this is a great success story," Salley said referring to America's historical ability to overcome economic trials.
The professor has a long resume of economic work in education as well as industry, both private and public. He has taught at Berry College and the University of Southern Florida among other institutions and has worked for both Honeywell and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta before returning to north Georgia where he now teaches full-time at GHC's Cartersville campus.
After a crash course in economics Friday, Salley reported what current numbers show. With an optimistic view rarely seen from other sources, he cites an overreaction to a natural business cycle as the source for the continuation of a perceived recession.
"There are fat years and there are lean years in agricultural society and there are also fat years and lean years in a market economy which people seem to overlook so when the lean years come, it looks like a great crisis," Salley said. "There is a rhythm to market economies. ... You read the headlines now, you'd think this thing crashed down to the grass. No, it just has slowed down.
"I think that's my message here, is that things are not as bad as they seem and the next few years should be very good."
As a member of the Advisory Council remarked, recessions are technical but it is often emotional perceptions that the public uses to determine a recovery. The National Bureau of Economic Research reported earlier this year the recession in fact ended in June 2009.
Despite technical calculations, which continue to show a growth in Gross Domestic Product and other indicators, unemployment rates remain relatively high across the country. Nationally, the unemployment rate is 9.8 percent while Georgia's unemployment remains slightly above that at 9.9 percent. Bartow County's unemployment rate declined in October to 11 percent while rare instances soar above the national average with middle Georgia's Telfair and Hancock counties coming in at 20.1 percent and 20.6 percent respectively.
During his abbreviated lesson plan, Salley recapped learning experiences recorded by economists throughout recent history including how disaster has been averted and merely survived by implementing fundamental economic theories.
"The Great Recession was 1974 and 1975, we really didn't know what was going on. This time, it's not fun but there's nothing here that we haven't experienced before," Salley said. "In the 1990s we went global and we've had several global financial crisis, just of banking meltdowns, and we learned how to handle those. We had one in Mexico, we had one in the whole Far East in 1997 and this one hit us here at home so people are a little bit more aware of that. This time, things are bad but we know what's going on."