State Relations

September 3, 2008

State Appoints New Chief Economist

The state has found a permanent replacement for Dr. ChangMook Sohn as executive director of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

Arun Raha, Vice President for Economic Research and Consulting at Swiss Re in New York was named yesterday as the state’s second “chief economist” the person who decides how much general fund money the Governor and the Legislature will have to write the state budget.  At Swiss Re (the world’s largest reinsurer headquartered in Zurich) Raha was responsible for forecasts of North American macroeconomic, financial and property-casualty markets.  Prior to joining Swiss Re, Raha managed Economic Analysis at Eaton Corporation in Cleveland and also served on the Ohio Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Raha earned his PhD in Economics at Washington State University and has been a faculty member at Boise State University where he forecast general fund revenues for the Idaho State Legislature.  He is a recipient of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s top overall forecast prize in 2007 and the Wall Street Journal’s forecasting award in January 2005.

ChangMook Sohn, who retired in February after serving as head of the Forecast Council since its inception in 1984 recently ran unsuccessfully in the August primary for State Treasurer.  Steve Lerch, who has been serving as interim executive director of the Forecast Council since February will return to his position at the State Investment Board.