This is from the Bend Bulletin (posted by Mark Thoma):
Oregon's go-to guy in economics, by David Holley, The Bulletin: UO professor Tim Duy has made name for himself analyzing region, state, Fed
Tim Duy denies comparisons to Paul Krugman. While Duy hasn't won a Nobel Prize for economics like Krugman, an op-ed contributor to The New York Times, the Eugene-based Duy is used as a resource for analyzing the economy nearly as frequently.
In recent years, media from The Bulletin and The Oregonian to ABC News have turned to Duy (pronounced dew-ee) for insight on economic indicators like unemployment and housing sales, in part because of his vast knowledge of the Oregon and national economies. Even Krugman himself cited Duy's work three times in August in The New York Times.
“A poor man's Paul Krugman” was all to which Duy would admit. “I don't make that comparison because it's just too big.”
For Duy, who began teaching economics at the University of Oregon in 2002, it's a compliment that Krugman reads his work, which is published as a column called Fed Watch on the blog Economist's View, run by Mark Thoma, a professor of economics at UO. Thoma agreed.
“When (Krugman) weighs in on your side, it has a lot of influence both within and outside the profession,” Thoma said.
Duy began building a name as a reputable economist in 2004 when he established the Oregon Economic Forum, which now produces multiple economic indexes, including one for Central Oregon.
Earlier this year, UO's magazine, Oregon Quarterly, featured Duy because of his notoriety. The article was headlined, “Rock Star Economist.”
The magazine referenced a 2007 article in The Oregonian, which cited Duy's UO Index of Economic Indicators as predicting a recession. The article was in December 2007, the same month that the National Bureau of Economic Research has retrospectively labeled as the beginning of the recession.
“I certainly knew the economy was deteriorating much more quickly than I think was (commonly) believed,” Duy said. “I think people should have been much more cognizant to what was going on in Oregon. There's this notion of an Oregon exceptionalism that I think clouded people's judgment.”
That's not to say Duy thinks Oregon isn't exceptional. He left the state in 1999 for Washington, D.C., after graduating with a Ph.D. in economics from UO. Three years later, he and his wife, Heather Walloch, moved back.
While in Washington, D.C., Duy spent one year working for the U.S. Treasury and two as a Fed watcher for a private company. That's where he first began learning about the international economy, Thoma said.
“From my perspective, he is one of the best Fed watchers out there in terms of really understanding the issues,” Thoma said.
Thoma has a bias toward Duy, however. Not only was he a part of hiring Duy at UO when he and Walloch returned to Oregon in 2002, but he also was Duy's dissertation adviser when Duy was pursuing a Ph.D.
Duy, a Chicago native who did his undergraduate work at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., said Thoma's blog itself helped his name spread.
He wrote a critique on Aug. 30 of a speech given the week before by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The following morning, while being interviewed by The Bulletin at his second home near Crescent Lake, Duy found out James Bullard, president and CEO of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, had responded to Duy's critique.
Though Bullard rebutted a few of Duy's points, the e-mail, which was posted to Economist's View, was friendly.
“I enjoyed your blog and I think you do a fine job of tracking the issues in the Fed,” Bullard wrote to Duy.
Today, Duy and Thoma are two of the more frequently quoted economists in Oregon about state and national issues. That's fine with Duy, because it's basically what he requested.
Before returning to teach at UO, Duy spent a few months giving presentations to businesses. He discovered he had a knack for distilling complicated economics information into digestible bits and pieces.
At the time, he said the university didn't have anyone to answer questions from the public about economic issues. The incentive, Duy said, is for academics to publish papers that other academics might read, instead of doing public outreach.
Duy proposed that it be his job to be UO's face for economic inquiries.
“I think that it was important that when the media has a question about economics, calling the university should be high on their list,” Duy said. He wanted there to be someone to turn to as a resource. “That's something that I think we've managed to accomplish.”
Since then, he has made partnerships with various organizations to develop indexes that measure and forecast the economic environment in multiple areas of the state. The Bulletin contributes money in a partnership with the University of Oregon and Duy for the quarterly Central Oregon Business Index, which he began in 2006.
Earlier this year, Duy took on a role as a member of the Oregon Governor's Council of Economic Advisors, which is used for providing knowledge and expertise on forecasting to the Office of Economic Analysis. Tom Potiowsky, the state's economist, said Duy was asked to be on the council because of his experience and presence as an economist.
“Tim's been a real plus for the council,” Potiowsky said. “We're glad to have him.”
Duy, 40, does still find time for a life with his two children and wife, Walloch, an attorney in Eugene. Even when the family is on vacation away from Eugene at their home in Crescent Lake, more than an hour southwest of Bend, work still lingers.
Walloch and Duy went for a time without Internet at the home, which was completed in 2006, but eventually they caved when they had access to a DSL-speed modem. Now, when they have free time away from Jack, 6, and Elsa, 4, Duy and Walloch check work e-mails among piles of the children's half-finished doodlings and glued-together crafts.
It's easy for the lives of children to quash an attempt at work, however.
Standing on his second story front porch on a chilly Tuesday morning last week, Duy was absorbed in a discussion about his critique of Bernanke's speech — “I was pretty frustrated in the piece I wrote yesterday about monetary policy. I was not happy with the way that Bernanke structured his speech. I thought, um ...” — when he was forced to change the subject.
“We're under attack,” he deadpanned.
Nerf darts flew at Duy's back from the staircase a few feet away, where Jack stood, outfitted in hiking sandals, shorts and a T-shirt.
“Did you decide it was going to be warm out today?” Duy said to the grinning boy.
Smiling, Duy snapped back to economics: “As far as what's going on in the Central Oregon economy, things seem to have stabilized. And that's good. We'd like to see stronger activity. That's just not here yet.”
Duy's Crescent Lake home has five bedrooms to host extended family members should they visit. Though work often follows him there, the suit and dress shoes stay in Eugene, replaced with cowboy boots and jeans.
Duy said the family chose Crescent Lake for a getaway because of its proximity to Eugene and easy access to the wilderness, where they can hike, ski and ride snowmobiles.
Back in Eugene, Walloch, 38, said the couple's lives are hectic, between work and the two children. She said both she and Duy try to take one separate weekday off to spend with the children.
Because life is so busy for the couple, Walloch said she rarely knows what Duy is working on. She does know he is enjoying it, though.
“He truly, truly loves being an economist,” Walloch said. “Unlike anyone else I know, he never gripes about his job.”