On Bauer Business Focus — A conversation on what lies ahead for renowned Houston economist Barton Smith with Ed Mayberry, business reporter for KUHF 88.7FM.
Barton Smith, the long-time Director of the UH Center for Public Policy’s Institute for Regional Forecasting talked recently to KUHF business reporter Ed Mayberry about what lies ahead, for himself.
After decades of being the man who explained Houston’s economy to Houstonians, Smith will be retiring at the end of August. The economics professor, who has worked at UH since 1973, said this very public role has become wearing:
“I need a rest, a pause. One the things my wife and I are planning do is we will spend the entire fall away from Houston. I have to disappear for three or four months so I can divorce myself from the Houston scene.”
The plan is to take a long trip this fall to visit his extended family in the Midwest, which includes 19 grandchildren, and then “sneak back into Houston in the spring and figure out what to do next. Working part time at the University is an option.
“It will be a period of relaxation and winding down a bit and see how I take it. I’ll see if I don’t get antsy about telling economic stories.”
Smith has long been synonymous with the UH Institute for Regional Forecasting, but he said the staff there will ensure it keeps going and growing after his last day, officially Aug. 31. It was the topic of staff meeting the previous day.
“We talked about where we go in future and what we need to do to keep the institute alive and prospering and some changes that need to be made. Starting Sept. 1, they will have to do it on their own. I’ve got faith in them.”
As for the future of the Houston economy, well, that’s complicated.
“The message I’m giving right now is we are not an island. Houston — and the Houston economy — is not going to survive on its own independent of what’s going on around the world. “
Click here to hear the full Bauer Business Focus interview.