Top forecasters: RHB economist ranked 4th

Thomas Lam
Thomas Lam

RHB Securities Singapore economist Thomas Lam has been named the fourth most accurate economist worldwide in forecasting the United States economy last year.

Mr Lam is among 78 who submitted their work for inclusion in the Bloomberg Ranking of Top Economic Forecasters, which whittled the list down to 20.

The top forecaster is Mr Christophe Barraud, Paris-based chief economist of Market Securities, followed by New York-based Jim O'Sullivan from High Frequency Economics. Frankfurt-based Commerzbank economists Bernd Weidensteiner and Christoph Balz tied for third place.

Rounding out the top five is Mr Harald Preissler, chief economist and head of asset management at Bantleon Bank in Switzerland.

Over the last two years, the 78 economists submitted forecasts for a total of 15 US economic indicators, including consumer confidence, home sales, inflation, unemployment rates and economic growth.

Mr Lam was named the second most accurate forecaster by the Bloomberg rankings for 2008 to 2009. Bloomberg changed its methodology after that, and he has been placed in the top five since 2013.

Any economist worth his salt should be able to analyse reams of data, but Mr Lam credits his success to his feel for the ground, despite being on the other side of the planet from the market he covers.

Mr Lam has been monitoring the US economy throughout his career, starting out in New York at Vanderbilt Capital Advisors and JP Morgan Chase, before joining UOB Group in Singapore and then OSK-DMG, which later merged with RHB.

"I've stayed in contact with former colleagues in the US, and I keep in touch with policymakers across major central banks, so all that helps," he told The Straits Times in a phone interview yesterday. "It's nice to be lucky every now and then too," he added.

Yasmine Yahya

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2016, with the headline 'Top forecasters: RHB economist ranked 4th'. Print Edition | Subscribe