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Amateur Economist goes to the Show

Economic Forum - the crowd

The crowd settles in

Last Monday, I braved the oncoming snow and attended the Economic Outlook Conference 2014 at Ohio Wesleyan University. The event was sponsored by The Economics Department and The Woltemade Center.  The room had 300 chairs in it and all were full! Who would have thought that listening to 3 economists and one moderator would be standing room only?

As usual, I sat toward the front (Row 3 in the center to be exact). It does not matter if you are going to a function like this or attending a Pink Floyd concert…closer is better!

What captured my attention initially was that one of the panelists is a vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland. Imagine, one of the top monetary strategists in the country was speaking in my town. His name is Edward Knotek II, Ph.D. The other panelists were Jim Newton, Ph.D. from Central Ohio and Ian Sheldon, Ph.D. originally from Salford, UK now at The Ohio State University.

Economic Forum - panel

The distinguished panel

The panel was perfectly moderated by Goran Skosples, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics.

Dr. Sheldon spoke first. He predicted low inflation rates in the coming year of about 2%. His talk was based in part by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) outlook.

Dr. Knotek was of particular interest to me. Some highlights of his talk: the housing market is on the mend, we continue to have tepid consumer spending and services are weak due to higher taxes, lower incomes and unemployment. On positive notes we have improving fundamentals, low inflation and an accommodative monetary policy.

He predicted that year-end 2014 would have inflation in the range of 1.5 to 1.75% and unemployment in the range of 6.5 to 6.75%. (He made an initial disclaimer that the opinions are his only and not those of the Federal Reserve.)

Economic forum - Jim Newton

Jim Newton, Ph.D.

Dr. Newton (in my view) was the most interesting and by far the most enthusiastic and animated. He was fun to listen to! The big take away is that monthly numbers are less and less meaningful. Seasonal adjustments may need to be changed. For instance, Christmas season hiring started in September this year, making the employment numbers higher in that month. In the past, the hiring occurred later.

Leading in to the program was the welcome by Alice Simon, Ph.D., Director of the Woltemade Center for Economics and the introductions by Martin Eisenberg, Ph.D., Dean of Academic Affairs.

The event can be viewed http://stream.owu.edu/

PS They had me at inelasticity.