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Banc One Economist Anthony Chan Living His Dream


August 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003 REUTERS. All rights reserved. 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anthony Chan's epiphany came in his family's apartment in a low income housing project in east Brooklyn.

Seeing William Simon, who later became secretary of the Treasury, on a Sunday television talk show, Chan, then 12, knew that he wanted to escape the surrounding poverty and become an economist.

Those were lofty goals for the son of a Puerto Rican cleaning woman and an immigrant Chinese waiter, and few took him seriously at the time. But fast forward to 2003 and Chan, 46, is living the dream as senior managing director and chief economist at Banc One Investment Advisors, which oversees $175 billion.

``He has pulled himself up by the boot straps,'' said Professor Shaid Hamid, currently professor of finance at Florida International University in Miami, who attended graduate school with Chan in 1979.

Chan, who lists his favorite movie as ``Rocky,'' admits that he was one of the few to escape the slums in which he grew up.

Friends and colleagues attribute Chan's success to equal parts of drive, charisma, ambition and intelligence.

``It was his tenacity, determination and hard work that got him'' to where he is, said Irving Stone, a retired professor of economics a Baruch College who acted as a mentor to Chan after meeting him in 1978 at a summer program for minority Americans.

Chan is more succinct, glossing over the years of grinding study to earn a doctorate in economics -- at times while supporting a wife and child on the salary of a graduate teaching assistant.

``I've been blessed with the ability to be unbiased in my analysis,'' Chan said. ``It's one of the values I bring to the table in offering views of the economy and financial markets,''


Investors should hope that Chan is right about his current outlook. He sees the ``trifecta of stimulus'' from low interest rates, tax cuts and a weak dollar, translating into increased demand for products and a favorable outlook for corporate profits.

Stocks will not move straight up, Chan said, and most of this year's market gain may already have taken place in the first half, but investors should see economic growth of 3.5 percent in 2004, compared with his forecast of 2.4 percent for 2003.

``I don't necessarily believe the market will surge in the third quarter as the expectations for earnings and the economy are already built in,'' Chan said. ``But, I believe the S&P 500 (.SPX) will be at 1,035 by year end, and 1,135 by the end of 2004.''

Among his favored sectors are cyclical stocks, such as paper and chemicals, which traditionally do well as the economy starts to recover, and the trucking sector on expectations for increased demand for transportation services.

He also likes the health-care sector, believing pricing power will improve as aging baby boomers pay for quality of life ``at almost any price.''

At the same time though, he advises against having large positions in car makers and airlines.

Consumers still bought cars throughout the recession, Chan said, so there is none of the usual pent-up demand associated with an economic downturn. Airlines are struggling more from geopolitical concerns, which have made people nervous to fly, he said.


Chan's opinion on the economy and the market should count. As well as his doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland, Chan also spent time as a doctoral fellow at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C., learning from some of the best economists in the country.

He's also worked at the Fed in New York; Barclays de Zoete Wedd Securities, a government securities primary dealer; and is a member of the closely watched Blue Chip Forecast panel.

From 2001 to 2002 he served on the Economic Advisory Committee of the American Bankers Association.

But it is his commitment to excellence that is perhaps his greatest asset, colleagues say.

Recalling that Chan needed to hone his presentation skills before one of his first road shows, Steven Ricchiuto, a colleague from Chan's early years on Wall Street, recounted how Chan quietly disappeared to a conference room for an hour each day and would ``talk to himself with the lights out while running through the slides.''

Polishing skills and impressing peers through his knowledge and dedication have allowed Chan to reach his goals, and today few people from his old neighborhood remember him, Chan said.

But he still walks the old streets once in a while, he said, just to remember what it was like when he grew up.

Chan, now a father of three daughters, lives in Columbus, Ohio -- a long way from that east Brooklyn neighborhood.

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