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Northwestern experts available on Trump’s cash plan, remote work and other economic concerns

Northwestern University professors in the Kellogg School of Management are available to comment on a range of issues related to the economy, the workforce and leadership during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis:

The Trump Administration announced Tuesday a plan to send direct cash payments to Americans in the next two weeks to slow economic concerns. Finance Professor Phillip Braun is available to speak on that topic. 

 Additionally, as people begin to work remotely across the U.S. and issues consumer rights become more prevalent as businesses close, Professors Leigh Thompson and Mark McCareins are available to share their perspectives.  

The experts below can be contacted by reaching out to Molly Lynch at 773-505-9719 or

Phillip Braun is a clinical professor of finance and associate chair of the Finance Department at Kellogg. He specializes in the study of emerging market economies and financial markets.

Professor Braun on the Trump Administration’s cash plan for Americans:

“It is not clear that immediate cash payments to Americans is the greatest way to go. Nevertheless, the idea seems to have bipartisan support. What is critical with this idea is that the payments only go to those who really need it, specifically hourly workers. Having a cash payment, or two, for these workers can help tide these workers over until the coronavirus threat is reduced. If they push for payments to higher income workers, it will be purely a political ploy for the November election.”

Leigh Thompson is the J. Jay Gerber Professor of Dispute Resolution & Organizations at Kellogg. She also is an adjunct professor of psychology at Northwestern.

Professor Thompson on the three traps of virtual communication:

“Now that we're all working from home, we are interacting with our colleagues, peers, bosses and customers differently. Don’t assume that it will go smoothly when you hop online. What works face to face may not translate virtually. 

“In my research on virtual interactions, I’ve uncovered three traps that people often fall into when communicating virtually and how to combat them to make a more optimal online communication:

  1. The first trap is the gray-glasses effect -- a tendency for online communication to be interpreted as harsher or negative than intended.  
  2. The second is the Mr. Hyde effect where people are more likely to behave in an aggressive manner when communicating online rather than face-to-face. Our brains literally receive different messages and the neurons that naturally fire when we are in person.
  3. The third is the not-on-the-same-page effect -- while it seems it would be more efficient online, it can be often less efficient such as with people communicating virtually are more likely to disagree about how to work together when they are online.”

Mark McCareins is a clinical professor of business law in the strategy department at Kellogg, where he teaches courses on antitrust and competition, business law and non-profit governance and organization. McCareins is also co-director of the JD/MBA program. 

Professor McCareins on consumer contracts and care:

“Putting aside the ethics of turning a blind eye to the effects of the health emergency on consumer contracts, most service and good providers should worry about the consumer goodwill lost if they take a hard line on ‘no refund, no cancellations.’

“While there are myriad consumer fraud and deceptive practice statutes that might apply, I would think that state attorneys' general would begin taking a serious look at providing guidance in this area. 

“In legalese, most contracts contain some form of ‘force majeure’ clause that is activated by national events such as this one; consumers would be well advised to locate their contracts and look in the fine print to determine if such a clause has been included in their contracts, and if so, whether there is language that tracks governmental policies, orders, and/or directives that have been issued in connection with COVID-19."