Economy EventsWritten by Jason Ubay On 25 October 2012
Top economists to speak at UHERO Conference

Gene Huang, chief economist and vice president at FedEx, and Christina Romer, former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, will deliver keynote addresses at next Monday’s UHERO Conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Huang, named one of the top economic forecasters by BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal, will present a U.S. and China forecast, and Romer will provide an outlook for 2013. The conference will also have sessions featuring local and national economists discussing issues like state tax policy and clean energy.

“The idea is we’re bringing together researchers from all over the country and we’re talking about topics that are crucial not just to Hawaii, but to states and regions all over the country from clean energy to local food production,” says Carl Bonham, UHERO’s executive director.

UHERO, the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization, will be the hosting the conference on Oct. 29, which runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is part of the larger AUBER (Association for University and Business Economic Research) 2012 Conference, held from Saturday, Oct. 27 to Tuesday, Oct. 30 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Broadly speaking, UHERO focuses on Hawaii’s economy, environment and people. “We’re trying to set up a dialogue that’s driven by research,” Bonham says. “One of the taglines for the conference is, ‘Research driven dialogue.’ That’s a little bit unique. Actually, it’s quite a bit unique. Oftentimes (at) conferences and events, they might have people who are experts in an area, so they’re talking from experience. What we’re doing is we’re talking from academic research and trying to open up a dialogue. We want to spread this information and provide it to our stakeholders. … By having this forum, we hope to inform the people who are making decisions and help them to make better decisions.”

A recent ruling in Hawaii Circuit Court says that the state’s Department of Taxation will not be collecting $700 million in unpaid taxes from online travel companies. However, one of the sessions will discuss taxing e-commerce, and UHERO fellow Jim Mak will present on taxing hotel room sales by online travel companies. “That session is going to be useful for policy makers and legislators,” Bonham says. The session also includes economists from around the country, like Bill Fox from the University of Tennessee and Michael Hicks from Ball State University in Indiana.

The annual AUBER conference was last held in Hawaii in 1992 but UHERO was not involved, because the group formed in 1997. Bonham says they would like to hold an annual conference to raise awareness with the public.

Cost to attend the conference is $130. To see a full schedule of speakers and to register, visit


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Managing Editor, Hawaii Business magazine. He's also representing the mag on Facebook and Twitter at @hawaiibusiness. You can follow him on Twitter at @jubay.

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