Former Fed VP to head Lindenwood Institute
Howard Wall will focus on study of regional economics.
A former vice-president and regional economics advisor of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has taken over the reigns of Lindenwood University’s Institute for the Study of Economics and the Environment (ISEE).
Dr. Howard Wall, 48, assumed his duties last month. In addition to various positions with the area’s Fed dating back to 1998, Wall has also held academic postings in economics at the University of London and West Virginia University.
Wall has been an adjunct member of the faculty at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He holds a Ph.D in economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
“He will continue his study more focused on the St. Louis region, looking at what drives our economy and understanding what pushes us down and back up in relation to the rest of the United States,” said Roger Ellis, interim dean for the campus’s School of Business and Entrepreneurship.
Ellis said that focus is very important today precisely because the globalization of the economy has changed the playing field so much for local businesses.
“Now I have the world for my client base but also my competition has increased,” he said.
Wall confirmed that the unit he now heads would move in a more regional direction under his guidance, concentrating on the 16-county metro area.
“That’s probably going to be a majority of the activity,” he said. “We also want to provide timely analysis of local conditions drawing on my experience as a local economist at the Fed where I dealt with a lot of this.”
A recognized expert on regional economics, Wall said he hopes to be a resource to the community as well as faculty and students in helping them to identify and understand the local drivers of the economy.
He feels Lindenwood is the right place to accomplish that goal and thinks the position will afford him precisely that opportunity.
“The more I spoke to people at the university, the more excited I got about it, primarily because of the mission of the university where it’s trying to apply things to practical issues either for students or faculty,” he said. “It’s really the ethos of the place.”
Wall said that the most important economic factor in the area today is the one on everyone’s minds.
“The big challenge in the local economy right now is the national economy,” he said. “We’re pretty much going to go along with the nation in terms of recovering with this recession.”
Unfortunately, in the near term he is not optimistic about the situation. Wall feels the key is to reduce the role of government, improve fiscal responsibility and create more certainty for businesses in order to promote hiring.
“Things have been grim for awhile obviously, especially for those people who are out of work,” he said. “I don’t really see it getting any better than it has been over the last year until there are some dramatic changes in the direction of policy.”
He said when the downturn does finally clear, it will be interesting to focus on the region’s strengths and look at how to make it more competitive.
“I think once we get out of recession and start dealing with normal things, what really matters is education and human capital, the productivity of the workforce,” he said. “I think that will be a continuing theme, not because I’m choosing to do it, but because studies show that that’s the key to expansion of the local economy.”
Wall, a native of New York, has been a resident of St. Louis County for a dozen years. He replaces Dr. Ken Chilton, the founder of ISEE, who left the position on a full-time basis a year and a half ago and has been working part-time at the institute since then, Ellis said.