The Center for Economic Research & Forecasting

The Cal Lutheran economic team has emerged as one of the state's best grounded and far-seeing prognosticators on California's ever-changing, rollercoaster economy.

– Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee Columnist

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Chuck Maxey

Gerhard Apfelthaler

Dean, School of Management

Gerhard Apfelthaler is a full professor in International Business and International Management at the School of Business at California Lutheran University (CLU) in Thousand Oaks, California (United States), a shareholder and executive advisor at CURE Pharmaceutical, and a senior partner at AT Consult, a consulting company with offices and affiliations in Europe, the US, and Asia.

He is a co-founder and the Associate Editor for the European Journal of International Management. Dr. Apfelthaler has lectured at universities in a number of countries including Australia, Austria, Colombia, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States. Full bio...

Contact: (805) 493-3352

Charles Maxey is Professor of Business Administration and Dean of the School of Business at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA. He earned his Ph. D. in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois in 1982.

Prior to joining the faculty at CLU in 1991, he held academic appointments at Northwestern University, Loyola University of Chicago, and the University of Southern California, where he served as Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Business Administration. He also served as Visiting Professor of Human Resource Management at the Sasin Graduate School of Business in Bangkok Thailand.

Dr. Maxey has numerous publications in both academic and practitioner journals. His recent research activities involve economic and workforce development issues in the Ventura County region of southern California and assessments of the quality of life in that region.

Bill Watkins

Bill Watkins

Executive Director

Bill Watkins, director of CERF, has been providing accurate, unflinching forecasts about the economic pulse of California, western states and the rest of the United States, for more than 15 years. He is a plain-spoken, no-holds-barred economist who studies the data and tells it like it is.

"Bill Watkins has the enviable ability to provide the simple-to-grasp explanations that are based on rigorous analysis of complex things. Sometimes it seems that we within the academy forget that our job is to make things easier to understand, not more difficult." Full bio...

Contact: (805) 705-5568

Bill Watkins, Ph.D.

Executive Director
Center for Economic Research and Forecasting
California Lutheran University

Bill Watkins joined California Lutheran University in June 2009 as the executive director of the new Center for Economic Research and Forecasting and as an associate professor of economics. He is also helping to launch CLU's new Master of Science in Economics program, which focuses on forecasting and applied research.

Prior to coming to CLU, Watkins had served as the executive director of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Economic Forecast Project. In his nine-year tenure, he expanded the project's publications and geographic scope and enhanced its reputation. Previously, he served as an economist with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C.

Watkins has been widely published in academic journals, traditional media and new media and is quoted regularly by news organizations throughout the world. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration-finance from California State University, Northridge, and a master’s and doctorate in economics from UCSB.

Dan Hamilton

Jeff Speakes

Jeff Speakes is Director of Financial Markets at California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting.  Jeff is also president of Kern Economics, a firm specializing in economics consulting and market risk advisory services.  He was formerly Senior Managing Director and Chief Economist at Countrywide Financial Corporation where he oversaw interest rate hedging, economic forecasting, and quantitative model development and validation.   He was responsible for the design, development and ongoing management of Countrywide’s leading-edge servicing hedge operation.  . Full bio...

Contact: (805) 493-3474

Dan Hamilton

Dan Hamilton

Dan Hamilton is what they call "a numbers guy." Dan began working with Economic Forecast models in 1997 and has now created a forecast model that is the envy of the industry. He has done forecasting for groups as diverse as Vandenberg Air Force Base, the County of Santa Barbara, the California Environmental Protection Agency (via the city of Santa Maria), Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Shea Homes, the Towbes Group, the Ojai Sanitation District, and many others. Full bio...

Contact: (805) 493-3724


Dan Hamilton Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, School of Business
Director of Economics, Center for Economic Research and Forecasting

Dan Hamilton began working with Economic Forecast models in 1997. The Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates (WEFA Group) had been formed earlier by Lawrence Klein, Nobel Prize winner, and had since been converted to a private company specializing in Economic Forecasting and Consulting services.

For three years with the WEFA Group, (now known as Global Insight), Hamilton produced forecasts and helped clients interpret the forecasts, generated sensible alternate scenarios, and communicated forecasts to non-technical audiences. He conducted professional forecast training workshops for publicly open courses offered by WEFA and in closed-door private sessions with certain clients. Some of the clients were large United States agencies that cannot be specifically named here. Other clients included Visa International, the Panama Canal Authority, and the Central Bank of Netherlands Antilles.

In 2000, Dan joined the UCSB Economic Forecast Project with Bill Watkins. In that position, he worked for the following clients: Vandenberg Air Force Base, the County of Santa Barbara, the California Environmental Protection Agency (via the city of Santa Maria), the Sares-Regis Group, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Davies Communications, Shea Homes, the Towbes Group, the Ojai Sanitation District, and many others. He has partnered on projects with: Booz, Allen, Hamilton; the Matrix Design Group; and Design, Community, and Environment. While with UCSB, he built and maintained a variety of forecast models in Eviews, including models of the United States, California, and Oregon. He also built several forecast models in Excel, including models of Grade-school enrollment and Commuting.

In June 2009, Dan Hamilton joined Bill Watkins and Kirk Lesh in forming a new Economic Forecast center at California Lutheran University (CLU). This is the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at CLU, or CERF. They also formed a new M.S. in Economics program that will focus on teaching the applied tools for Economic Forecasting. Both of the new CLU initiatives will yield new products to be released or available by Fall 2009.

Kirk Lesh

Kirk Lesh

Kirk M. Lesh looks forward to broadening his forecast work at CERF. He has built a solid reputation for unabashed honesty in predictions for the real estate sector. He has served as a consultant on several large, community oriented projects and is a frequent invited speaker at several events. Full bio...

Contact: (805) 493-3788

Kirk M. Lesh, M.B.A.

Senior Economist

Kirk Lesh is a Senior Economist at the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting (CERF) at California Lutheran University. In addition to his work at CERF, Mr. Lesh is finishing his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Mr. Lesh earned his M.B.A. from the University of California, Irvine in 2000 and holds undergraduate degrees in Finance and Economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

At CLU Mr. Lesh spends his time consulting for Santa Barbara County and NAI Capital, Inc. In the fall he will begin teaching in the new M.S. Economics program. Mr. Lesh also teaches several undergraduate classes at CLU.

Prior to his work at CLU Mr. Lesh was the Real Estate Economist at the Economic Forecast Project at UCSB where he prepared and presented annual real estate forecasts for several communities in Central California. Additionally, Mr. Lesh served as a consultant on several large, community orientated projects.

His work at CLU and UCSB has given Mr. Lesh the opportunity to speak at numerous seminars throughout California. He often quoted in local newspapers and has been the keynote speaker at several events.

Before he entered the Ph.D program Mr. Lesh worked as a Manager of Finance for several companies in Orange County. In these various roles Mr. Lesh helped integrate two billion dollar companies, created a financial reporting system and secured a second public offering.

Need some information that you can't find here? Contact CERF and we'll get back to you promptly.


Center for Economic Research and Forecasting
California Lutheran University
60 W. Olsen Road #3500
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
(805) 493-3724
(805) 493-3719 (fax)