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campus, the Forecast is more than just a group of number-crunchers
working in blissful solitude at the difficult task of predicting
economic trends. It supports management education through teaching,
supervision of M.B.A. field-study projects and training of Ph.D.
students in advanced econometric model-building and forecasting
how all this is achieved -- so successfully and for so long -- is
a remarkable story. The Forecast is virtually self-supporting, receiving
most of its funding from seminar membership, consulting fees and
its conferences, which have drawn speakers such as Pete Wilson,
former governor of California; Kathleen Connell Ph.D. '87, California
state controller; and Leon Panetta, chairman of the U.S. House Budget
Committee and later White House chief of staff to President Clinton.
has managed to survive countless ebbs and flows, much like the economy
it studies so closely.
its humble beginnings a half-century ago under Bob Williams, the
Business Forecasting Project, or BFP, expanded eight years later
with the presentation of its first annual public forecast conference.
In 1968, the UCLA Business Forecasting Seminar was established to
fund the construction of more complex econometric models and the
production of quarterly conferences. Initial corporate members included
Bank of America, General Telephone, the Los Angeles Times and Southern
Forecast staff also continued to grow. Besides Williams as director,
Donald Ratajczak joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Management
in 1968 and assumed responsibility for forecasting and model construction.
Although he stayed just a few years, Ratajczak developed a sophisticated
model of the state economy based largely on employment and personal-income
data, an approach that the staff still uses today.
wasn't until 1981 that the Forecast got its second director, Larry
J. Kimbell, an economics professor who joined the staff in 1973
to take over Ratajczak's job of producing the forecast numbers.
When Bob Williams retired in 1981, he handed the reins to Kimbell,
who sought to accomplish two things: strengthen the Forecast's ties
with major banks, aerospace firms, utilities and government entities
in California, and finish Ratajczak's task of converting the Forecast
from a consensus-based model to a fully computerized, econometric