Christopher Thornberg Founding Partner
Christopher Thornberg Ph.D. has been called many things throughout his career – “Dr. Doom,” a contrarian, even an optimist – but his favorite thing to be called, is correct. A renowned economist with deep expertise in economic and revenue forecasting, regional economics, economic policy, and labor and real estate markets, Dr. Thornberg has consulted globally for private industry, cities, counties, and public agencies.
Dr. Thornberg founded Beacon Economics LLC in 2006 and under his leadership the firm has become one of the most respected research organizations in California serving public and private sector clients across the United States. From 2015-2023, Dr. Thornberg was also Director of the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development and an Adjunct Professor at the School.
An expert in economic and revenue forecasting, regional economics, economic policy, and labor and real estate markets, Dr. Thornberg has consulted for private industry, cities, counties, and public agencies in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Seattle, San Diego, the Inland Empire, Las Vegas, Washington State, Orange County, Sacramento, Arizona, and other geographies across the nation. He has also worked on Wall Street, advising hedge fund manager Paulson & Co. about macroeconomic issues.
Recent notable projects include policy analyses for the International Franchise Association; housing and rent control studies for the California Apartment Association; research supporting the strategic allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds for the County of San Joaquin; an analysis and forecast of the socioeconomic factors that affect traffic growth and demand along a major interstate in Southern California; research on affordable housing in Los Angeles for a major law firm; quarterly regional economic outlooks for the East Bay Economic Development Alliance; a recession recovery plan for the City and County of San Francisco; an annual economic assessment of LA’s city council districts for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; an economic and revenue forecast for the City of San Luis Obispo; an analysis of the local technology industry for the Santa Cruz County Workforce Development Board; and an economic impact study for the 2024 Los Angeles Olympic Games Committee.
Dr. Thornberg became nationally known for forecasting the subprime mortgage market crash that began in 2007 and was one of the few economists on record to predict the global economic recession that followed. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he stood in opposition to the panic over a Depression that never happened, and he consistently urges his audiences to beware of narratives that diverge from the reality of data.
Well known for his ability to capture and hold audiences, Dr. Thornberg has presented to hundreds of leading business, government, and nonprofit organizations across the globe including Chevron, The New Yorker, Colliers International, Western Alliance Bank, the California Chamber of Commerce, City National Bank, the National Confectioner’s Association, the Washington State Association of Counties, the California State Association of Counties, State Farm Insurance, the City of Los Angeles, the California and Nevada Credit Union League, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, and the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, among many others. He has testified before the U.S. Congress House Committee on Financial Services on municipal debt issues, before the California State Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation regarding rule changes related to Proposition 13, and before the Los Angeles City Council about proposed changes to local minimum wage laws.
Dr. Thornberg is a contributor to consensus economic forecasts published by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the National Association of Business Economists, and the Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University. He also serves as a Board Member of the BizFed Institute, one of Southern California’s most prominent think tanks focused on business and industry issues. He is an Executive Member of the Central City Association (Los Angeles) and a member of the California Association for Local Economic Development. In 2024, he joined the Board of Directors of the Statewide California Coalition (dba New California Coalition). He served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce from 2012-2024.
Prior to launching Beacon Economics, Dr. Thornberg was a senior economist with UCLA’s Anderson Forecast. He previously taught in the MBA program at UCLA’s Anderson School, in the Rady School of Business at UC San Diego, and at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. He has also held a faculty position in the economics department at Clemson University.
A well-known media commentator, Dr. Thornberg has appeared on all the major networks, CNN, CNBC, NPR, and is regularly quoted in major national dailies and online publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Politico, and the Los Angeles Times.
Originally from upstate New York, Dr. Thornberg holds a Ph.D. in Business Economics from The Anderson School at UCLA, and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
No Nonsense Economics
The holidays have always been a time of higher-than-normal consumer spending. However, a drift downward in spending at this festive time of year has been occurring for years. This is likely a function of many things, the most important of which may be the decline in the number of children in the United States.
For all the sophistication of modern asset markets, at their core, they are still just Keynesian beauty contests. Keynes’s metaphor for the markets derived from a special type of beauty contest where the judges don’t pick who they think is most attractive, but who they think will be most attractive to all the other judges. His intuition is that traders are mainly trying to anticipate what the average trader thinks the average trader thinks is about to happen. Such nested logic can generate wild volatility in the market’s response to the silliest peices of news. This has been proven yet again in the waning days of 2023 with a big jump in equity and bond prices, all because of the odd notion that there has been a sharp pivot in Federal Reserve policy. The market now anticipates that the Fed will lower interest rates multiple times next year.