April 1, 2008

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Jeff Thredgold

The Optimistic Economist

Peri Kinder

April 1, 2008

Jeff Thredgold hated his economics classes in college and decided to avoid the field altogether. Now, more than 35 years later, he is one of the most respected and sought-after economists in the nation. While the media paints a dire financial picture for the country, Thredgold’s optimistic economic forecasts are a breath of fresh air. “The national media is doing all they can to make sure we have a recession,” he says. “With friends like those, who needs enemies?” As a professional speaker and the only economist in the world to have achieved the Certified Speaking Professional designation, Thredgold travels across the country sharing news and humor about the financial condition of the United States. Having studied the economy for three decades, he understands the nation has survived market fluctuations many times, eventually emerging stronger. Thredgold believes the housing market will improve, the job growth rate will continue, social security will be around for a long time and Utah’s economy will stay consistently strong. “You go into a bookstore and economics is a dismal subject with deficits, declines and gloomy forecasts,” he says. “I don’t think that way, I don’t act that way and I don’t write that way. I’m realistic but optimistic.” A prolific writer, Thredgold has produced the Tea Leaf Newsletter, a weekly financial email and print update, for 33 years. He also penned a new book, econAmerica: Why the American Economy is Alive and Well…And What That Means To Your Wallet, published in July 2007. Thredgold has appeared numerous times on CNBC-TV as an economic consultant and contributes to many national financial publications. He admits to working harder now than ever before, but he adheres to the motto “work hard, play hard.” He and his wife Lynette, an accomplished musician, bodybuilder and professional wrestler, have created the Money & Music presentation, an economic speech integrating her musical talents with his monetary advice. “If you love what you do, it’s not work,” Thredgold says. “I’m lucky to be able to do what I love and that makes all the difference.” After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Weber State University, Thredgold started his career working at K-Mart. He soon moved on to other jobs, eventually returning to school to get a master’s degree in economics at the University of Utah. Thredgold is now president of Thredgold Economic Associates and serves as an economic consultant to Zions Bancorporation. Although he’s an engaging speaker, Thredgold says he really is a shy person. He’d rather read one of his five daily newspapers than attend a cocktail party, but he’ll play blackjack or golf any day. Shyness aside, Thredgold comes alive when he speaks to audiences. He averages about 70 appearances per year, tailoring his remarks to audiences of bankers, chamber groups and businesspeople. Whether he’s talking to a group of 15 or a crowd of 10,000, he enjoys the interaction and energy involved. Through it all, his comic relief and self-deprecating attitude make economics, well, interesting. “Economics is boring, confusing and frustrating in the hands of amateurs,” Thredgold says. “It’s even worse in the hands of a professional.”
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