Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Where Forecasters Often Crash and Burn, Meyer Soars

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Where Forecasters Often Crash and Burn, Meyer Soars

Article excerpt

Laurence H. Meyer, nominated Thursday for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, is considered to be among the nation's top economic forecasters.

He's also thought of as middle-of-the-road economist who is unlikely to rock Alan Greenspan's boat at the Fed.

"He's a mainstream economist. He's no gloom-and-doom peddler. He's no wild-eyed supply-sider," said Murray Weidenbaum, the former economic chief in President Ronald Reagan's administration, who now serves with Meyer on the faculty of Washington University.

Meyer, a Democrat, has a reputation as a number-cruncher and top-notch forecaster rather than an economic philosopher or policy advocate. That may help him win confirmation in the Republican-dominated Senate.

With two partners, he invented the Washington University Macroeconomic Model, a complex computer simulation that he uses to forecast the U.S. economy.

In a profession where experts are often surprised, Meyer's forecasts come closer to the mark than most.

Twice in the last three years, he's won the Blue Chip Economic Forecasting Award. About 50 prominent economists compete for the prize.

Other economists generally praised Meyer's knowledge of how the economy works. "I think he'll be an excellent addition at the Fed," said Ray Wors eck, chief economist at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.

President Bill Clinton's first choice for the Fed's vice chairmanship, New York investment banker Felix Rohatyn, was shot down by Senate Republicans.

But Rohatyn was a well-known Democrat who had taken positions on political issues. Meyer, 51, is much more difficult to brand.

"Rohatyn is a political figure. Larry (Meyer) is much more of a technical economist," Weidenbaum said.

Meyer advised the Clinton campaign on economic matters in 1992. He also did a study of investment tax proposals for the Democratic campaign, and Clinton used the results on the stump.

But the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, controlled by Republicans, also subscribes to Meyer's forecasting service. And the Treasu ry Department under Reagan hired Meyer to study tax proposals.

The Fed's senior staff in Washington uses Meyer's economic models in its own forecasting. …

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