How I Got Into Economics

I’ve been asked more than once how I got to where I am.  Here’s the brief story (allowing me to refer
future inquiries to this post).


I always had an aptitude for mathematics, but I found math
boring.  I was interested in politics,
but eventually decided politics had
little basis aside from personal preferences.


Then I read a couple of short economics articles in The Freeman.  I realized that public policy decisions
could have a basis in rational analysis. 
The first economics book I read was Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One
.  It’s a little dated in its
examples, but still relevant in its principles.  I thrilled to Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom,
then slogged through Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action.  Unlike some of my libertarian and socialist friends, I
felt the need to truly understand mainstream economics as well, reading Keynes
and the standard textbooks.


When I was in college, my grandmother would mail me her used
copies of Forbes Magazine, and I began to connect the dots between
economics and business decisions.  I
took an undergraduate degree in economics from New College (now New College of
Florida), then a masters and doctorate in economics from Duke University.  I moved away from studying economics as a
tool for public policy analysis and delved more deeply into theory.


I taught economics for three years, while finishing my
dissertation, at St. Andrews Presbyterian College.  Teaching undergraduate economics was a great way to nail down
some of the topics that I had skirted in my formal education.


Sampling both the academic world and the corporate world was
always my plan, so I moved to San Francisco to work for Pacific Gas and
Electric Co.  I had a blast doing
macroeconomic and regional forecasting, but after four years had a desire to
get more involved in business decisions. 
I took a job in Portland at NERCO, a now-defunct Fortune 500 mining
company, working in the corporate planning department and learned more about
business.  I moved to First Interstate
Bank, serving the Oregon operation at first and later the Pacific Northwest
region . I spent about half my time on internal bank matters, such as deposit
and loan forecasts, and the other half meeting with clients and community


In 1996 I went out of my own with two activities.  I set up an investment management firm with
a partner, which was later sold.  I also
began consulting, primarily for businesses trying to understand the connection between
the economy and their decisions, and speaking frequently to trade associations,
client groups and management teams.