San Francisco Fed's New Chief Is a Believer in Iffy Forecasting; Economist Parry against Relying on Economists as Oracles

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LOS ANGELES -- Robert T. Parry, who was named president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, is a firm believer in what he calls "conditional forecasting."

"It seems to me that if management is relying on economists solely on their ability to predict the future, there's going to be trouble," observes Mr. Parry, who was graduated with PhD and MA degrees in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. "I think everyone realizes the complexities of economic and financial developments. Economists should inform management of what could happen under different economic scenarios."

Feb. 1 will be a big day for mr. Patty. It is both the day he succeeds John J. Balles, 64, who is retiring, and the day his daughteR, Lisa, marries.

"So there are a lot of big changes for me in February," says Mr. Parry, who currently is executive vice president and chief economist at Security Pacific Corp. and its principal subsidiary, Security Pacific National Bank, both based here.

Mr. Parry, 46, joined Security Pacific as an economist in 1970 after five years as a research economist at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, where he helped to build a financial model of the U.S. economy.

"There were other responsibilities as well, but that was the major one," says Mr. Parry, the son of a Harrisburg, Pa., police detective Mr. Parry has a son, Robert, who is in the computer field.

At Security Pacific, Mr. Parry was in charge of a staff of 15 economists -- the largest economics unit of any major bank on the West Coast except for the Bank of America.

He also served on Security Pacific's management and finance committees, helping to shape the strategies of the parent company and the bank. …