Sung Won Sohn

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Sung Won Sohn
Born 1944
Seoul, Korea, Japanese Empire (today South Korea)
Nationality American
Alma mater
Occupation Economist
Korean name
Hangul 손성원
Hanja 孫聖源[1]
Revised Romanization Son Seong-won
McCune–Reischauer Son Sǒng'wǒn

Sung Won Sohn (born 1944) is a Korean American economist, noted for his skill in economic forecasting. He is currently the Martin V. Smith Professor of Economics at California State University, Channel Islands. [2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Sohn was born in Seoul and later lived in Gwangju. He graduated from Gwangju Jeil High School (광주제일고등학교) in 1962.[1] He came to the United States that year to study economics as an undergraduate at the University of Florida in Gainesville on a partial scholarship.[2][3] He earned his Master's in economics from Wayne State University, and his Ph.D. in the same field from University of Pittsburgh. He also earned an PMD from Harvard Business School.[3]


One of Sohn's Ph.D. advisors, Marina Whitman, left Pittsburgh to become a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisors under the Nixon administration; she was so impressed by his work that she brought him on board as senior economist at the White House.[2] On the White House Council, he was responsible for economic and legislative matters pertaining to the Federal Reserve and financial markets.[citation needed] His weekly economic and financial report to the President earned him attention from President Nixon.[2]

A New York banker introduced Sohn to the president of the Northwest National Bank of Minnesota, where Sohn would move for his next job.[2] He remained with the bank through various name changes and mergers, as it became Norwest Corporation and then purchased Wells Fargo in 1998, and rose to the position of Executive Vice President and chief economist.[2]

In January 2005, Sohn moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to take up a position as president and CEO of Hanmi Bank. After more than three decades in Minnesota, he stated that he was looking forward to moving to a warmer climate with a larger Korean American population.[4][5] He retired from that position in December 2007.[6] He would later[when?] become the vice chairman of fashion retailer Forever 21.[2] In 2008, he joined the faculty of California State University, Channel Islands as Martin V. Smith Professor of Economics.[7]

Other activities[edit]

In 2011, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed him a member of the Los Angeles Harbor Commission, which has oversight authority for the Port of Los Angeles.[2] He also serves on the boards of Western Alliance Bancorporation and Claremont Graduate University. He was on the boards of First California Bank, Ministers Mutual Life Insurance Company, L.A. Music Center (Performing Arts), Foreign Affairs Council of Los Angeles, and Children's Bureau of Los Angeles.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2006, the Wall Street Journal featured a story naming Sohn as the most accurate economist in the United States. In 2010 the Journal named him as one of the five most accurate economists in the United States. In 2012 he ranked third. In 2004, a Bloomberg Markets magazine survey ranked Sohn as the U.S.' second-best GDP forecaster for the 12 months ending in June 2004.[8] In 2012 the Wall Street Journal again ranked him as one of the U.S.' best economic forecasters; he was the only representative of academia ranked in the top 10, and one of just five in the top 50.[7]

He was chosen as one of the 100 most influential Minnesotans of the 20th century by the state's largest newspaper, the Star Tribune. Others on the list included Charles Lindberg, Sinclair Lewis, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Charles M. Schulz.



  1. ^ a b 서경호 [Seo Gyeong-ho] (2003-12-02), "'조기유학의 원조' 손성원 美 웰스파고 수석부행장" ['Because I was an international student': USA Wells Fargo executive vice president Sohn Sung-Won], JoongAng Ilbo, archived from the original on 2012-04-26, retrieved 2011-09-29 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Lifsher, Marc (2011-07-24), "How I Made It: Sung Won Sohn", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 2011-09-29 
  3. ^ a b c "웰스파고 손성원 부행장: FRB 의장 자리에 관심있다" [Federal Reserve Board chairman is paying attention to Wells Fargo executive vice president Sohn Sung-Won], Money Today, 2007-07-12, retrieved 2011-09-29 
  4. ^ Reckard, E. Scott (2005-01-04), "Sohn Expected to Shine over Hanmi Financial", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 2012-06-12 
  5. ^ Berry, Kate (2005-06-20), "Bank shot: Sung Won Sohn plans to diversify Hanmi by marketing outside the Korean community and selling products outside the real estate sector", AllBusiness, retrieved 2011-09-29 
  6. ^ "Korean-American bank Hanmi says CEO Sohn retires", Reuters, 2007-12-27, retrieved 2012-06-12 
  7. ^ a b Monaghan, Peter (2012-03-04), "At a Small Campus in California, a Top-Ranked Economist Predicts What's Next", The Chronicle of Higher Education, retrieved 2012-06-12 
  8. ^ Torres, Carlos (2004-10-29), "U.S. 3rd-Qtr Growth Probably Rose at a 4.3% Pace, Survey Shows", Bloomberg News, retrieved 2012-06-12 

External links[edit]