Jason Schenker is the Chairman of The Futurist Institute and the President of Prestige Economics. Bloomberg News has ranked Jason Schenker the #1 forecaster in the world in 25 different categories; including for his forecasts of the Euro, the British Pound, the Swiss Franc, the Russian Ruble, the Chinese RMB, crude oil prices, natural gas prices, gold prices, industrial metals prices, agricultural commodity prices, U.S. new home sales, and U.S. jobs. This is why executives, corporate boards, industry groups, and central banks rely on his financial market research. Jason Schenker has also written seven books, including three about disruptive emerging technologies. Jason Schenker holds a Master’s in Applied Economics from UNC Greensboro, a Master’s in Negotiation from CSU Dominguez Hills, a Master’s in German from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor’s in History and German from The University of Virginia; amongst numerous other highly credible and impressive qualifications. Based in Austin, Jason Schenker is one of only 100 CEOs on the Texas Business Leadership Council, a non-partisan group that advises Texas elected leadership at the state and federal level. He also sits on multiple boards and is a Governance Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors. Jason Schenker is on the advisory board of Hidden Star, a non-profit focused on helping low-income, minority, and disadvantaged entrepreneurs start and succeed. Please enjoy my interview with Jason Schenker.
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I tell them that I run a top-ranked financial market research firm called Prestige Economics, and I am the chairman of The Futurist Institute, which helps analysts and economists become futurists. I also write non-fiction books as well as a column for Bloomberg Prophets.
I’m usually reading a few books at any given time. I read English, German, and French.
- Mein Weltbild by Albert Einstein.
- Le capital au XXI siècle by Thomas Piketty.
- The Panic of 1819 by Murray Rothbard.
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
Around the World with Ant and Bee by Angela Banner. This is a children’s book about two friends who go on a worldwide adventure together.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a historian.
What do you think your school-aged self would think of the present day you?
I think he would be impressed. I earned three master’s degrees, speak several languages, appear on business television, and I have written over a half-dozen books. Most importantly, I have the most amazing wife.
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be and why?
This is a great question! It’s actually why I wrote Recession-Proof in 2016. It’s the book I wish I had when I finished school, and since it did not exist, I wrote it.
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
My favorite time to read is when I am on flights and when I travel, which is quite often. I like to make a lot of notes in books as I read them, so some solitude is good, as reading for me a time to brainstorm. It’s why I also like to read in the middle of the day.
Which book has had the biggest impact on your career so far? How did it impact it?
Monetary Policy and the Business Cycle by F.A. Hayek. It was part of one of my master’s degrees, and it was formative for my perspective on economic drivers and theory.
Which three books would you recommend for a complete novice who wants to learn about economics?
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler. It’s about negotiation – and life. And the importance of being nice, even when you have to be tough.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
I generally prefer non-fiction books.
What’s the greatest book on economics ever written?
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. It’s got everything: theory, examples, data, commodities.
Do you think reading is important?
Reading is a critical way to absorb information, to learn, and to also spark creative ideas.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. It seemed apropos to read, as the Catalan independence movement was heating up.
Do you prefer real books or digital books?
Real. I love to read when I travel and to make a lot of notes in books. This is also why I think there is no substitute for paperbacks. Hardbacks look nice and they have a souvenir quality to them, but they are tougher to really dig into, hold, and make notes in.
Choosing the Right Pond by Robert Frank. It’s about finding a way to be a big fish, be happy, and grow.
If you could only teach the youth of today one thing about economics, what would it be and why?
Economics drives politics, society, business, and jobs.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
My top fiction recommendation: Anything by Arthur Schnitzler is deliciously sardonic.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I am working on something related to the medieval Polish economy and society, so I expect to read a number of books on that.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
This question reminds me of a line from Immortality by Milan Kundera, where he realizes he should write a book called The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and in a poignant moment, he breaks the fourth wall and notes that he already did that. In that vein, I would note about a potential autobiography that I sort of already did that in 2016. The book is called Recession-Proof: How to Survive and Thrive in an Economic Downturn. It’s a mélange of personal stories along with an economic discussion, as well as professional recommendations.