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Winter 2001
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"We gradually acquired a reputation of being 'negative' on California," Hensley recalls. "There was a certain amount of bitterness about our forecast, that we were part of the problem and that we were creating a sense of anxiety that didn't need to be there. Eventually all that faded, and everyone went in our direction. Even we underestimated the magnitude and severity of what was happening, and all of us were sort of humbled by what ultimately came down."

Despite their gloomy predictions, Hensley says, the Forecast never got any flak from the state government. "Governor Wilson was actually one of our big supporters, and he never had anything but good things to say about the Forecast," Hensley says. In fact, Wilson appeared as keynote speaker at the Forecast's June 2001 conference, which focused on the state's energy crisis. "It would be fun to be the bearer of good tidings," the former governor told the crowd. "It is more fun if you can be pleasantly surprised. But what's most important is to be accurate, and [the Anderson Forecast] has been with its remarkable record."

When Hensley -- now vice president of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in New York -- left UCLA in 1993, Kimbell took over the directorship of the BFP once again. He appointed economist Tom K. Lieser Ph.D. '77 as executive director of the forecast in 1997 and spent the last year of his career at the Forecast as co-director with Daniel J.B. Mitchell, professor at the Anderson School and at the School of Public Policy and Social Research. When Kimbell retired to his hometown of Amarillo, Texas, in 1999, Mitchell became the sole director from July 1999 to June 2000, followed by Leamer.

As this story nears publication, the Forecast staff is preparing for its December conference, "California in the Global Marketplace," and will celebrate its 50th anniversary by inviting former directors and prominent staff for a reunion. Dan Mitchell, Larry Kimbell and David Shulman M.B.A. '66, Ph.D. '75 -- former finance economist with the Forecast and now managing director at Lehman Brothers, Inc. -- will be there, and Bob Williams has been invited. Yoshi Inaba, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., will address the morning session.

In attendance will be Anderson School Dean Bruce Willison '70, himself a businessman. "Going back decades now, the Forecast has built a strong reputation for its accuracy," Willison says. "But two important things are happening: First, we're reaching out to the business community and providing this insight and guidance as to what's happening behind the numbers. Secondly, we're reaching further into our own school to incorporate more faculty and student involvement, where we have a variety of expertise that cuts across industries and into a lot of different sectors."

Providing insight is the name of the game, says Leamer.

"That's what I'm trying to emphasize," he says. "The forecast is an educational event."

Wendy Soderburg is senior editor for UCLA Magazine.


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