‘Most Accurate Economist’ To Deliver 2011 Forecast

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TEMPE — She and her team correctly pinpointed key indicators at both the beginning of the recession and the beginning of the recovery. For these remarkable predictions, Sherry Cooper, executive vice president and chief economist for BMO Financial Group, will receive this year’s prestigious Lawrence R. Klein Award for economic forecasting accuracy.

Cooper has been described by Canada’s national newspaper as “the megawatt celebrity economist.” In this case, she beat out about 50 other top North American economic forecasters to receive one of the best-known and longest-standing awards in the profession.

“I am thrilled and humbled to receive this award on behalf of my economics team and especially my deputy, Douglas Porter,” says Cooper.

“We were in a period of unnerving collapse and unprecedented volatility for which there were no historical playbooks.”

Cooper’s mentor, Paul Volcker, chairman of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and former Federal Reserve Board chairman, will present her with the award at an Oct. 21 ceremony in New York. Cooper will also deliver her 2011 forecast at the event.

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University sponsors and judges the award, named for Nobel Prize winner Lawrence R. Klein. Cooper won this year’s award for having the most accurate economic forecast among the Blue Chip Economic Indicators survey for the years 2006 to 2009.

The survey involves a consensus panel of the top forecasters in North America. The resulting Blue Chip newsletter has been published for more than 30 years and is regarded as the “gold standard” of business forecasts.

“Cooper had to predict correctly a very difficult period of time in the economy,” says Research Professor of Economics Lee McPheters of the W. P. Carey School of Business. “These years straddled both expansion and contraction, both recession and the bottoming out. She was the most accurate in an impressive field of the world’s best forecasters.”

Cooper leads a highly respected economics team at BMO Financial Group. She has repeatedly been called one of the most influential women in Canada. She is a popular speaker, frequently quoted by the media, and has published three books. She began her career at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., and then joined the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) as director of financial economics, prior to working at Burns Fry in Canada.

Cooper’s 2011 forecast will contain several key messages. Among her predictions:

• Moderate growth will slowly gain momentum with the help of quantitative easing by the Fed and modest federal stimulus offset, in part, by further state and local government contraction.

• Housing will slowly add to growth for the first time in six years.

• The unemployment rate will finally edge downward to just 9 percent as inflation remains muted and interest rates rise only moderately by year end.

• The savings rate will inch upward to around 6.3 percent, triple the level before the recession.

The Lawrence R. Klein Award ceremony will be held at 6 p.m., Oct. 21 at the University Club in New York. Among those attending will be Randell E. Moore, executive editor of Blue Chip Economic Indicators; Dean Robert Mittelstaedt of the W. P. Carey School of Business; Wm. Polk Carey, founder of W. P. Carey & Co. LLC; and the award namesake, Nobel Laureate Dr. Lawrence R. Klein.

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