Of all the economists to win an award, David M. Blitzer, Standard & Poor's chief economist and chairman of the S&P 500 index committee that puts together the stock index, seems most appropriate for pension and other fund sponsors, who invest in S&P 500 stocks.
Mr. Blitzer received the 1998 Blue Chip Economic Forecasting Award as the nation's top economist.
Although his index fund work isn't why he won the award, one might consider his influence in selecting stocks making up the S&P 500, which recorded a total return of 28.6% in 1998, a performance far beyond expectations of investment analysts.
And, institutional investors may want to pay attention to Mr. Blitzer's forecast for this year; in the tough business of forecasting, Mr. Blitzer carries credibility.
For 1999, Mr. Blitzer forecasts a 5% to 10% total return on the S&P 500. Among the reasons he cites is poor earnings growth and the new euro currency attracting investors to Europe. He sees a 40% chance of a mild recession. He expects the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, will grow 2.6% for the year, compared to 1998's estimated growth of 3.7%.