Dr. Sung Won Sohn is a Professor of Finance and Economics at Loyola-Marymount University. He is also president of SS Economics, an economic consulting firm focused on the U.S. economy, international trade in the pacific-rim and technology including AI. Dr. Sohn was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hanmi Financial Corporation, a commercial bank in Los Angeles, California. Before joining Hanmi in 2005, Dr. Sohn was an Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Officer at Wells Fargo Banks. He was also Vice Chairman of the Board at a retailer Forever 21. Dr. Sohn also serves as Commissioner for LACERS (Los Angeles City Employee Retirement System) and Chair of the Investment Committee, managing $17 billion in assets. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Western Alliance Bancorporation, and National Association of Corporate Directors PSW. Dr. Sohn is an internationally-known economist.
Dr. Sohn was Martin V. Smith Professor of Economics at California State University CI and director of Institute for Global Economic Research (IGER) forecasting economic and investment conditions in the Pacific-rim countries.
Prior to Wells Fargo, Dr. Sohn was a Senior Economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisors in The White House. He was responsible for economic and legislative matters pertaining to The Federal Reserve and financial markets. Dr. Sohn has also been a tenured professor in Pennsylvania State University System.
In 2001, Bloomberg News selected Dr. Sohn as one of the five most accurate forecasters in the United States. In 2002, Blue Chip Publications picked him as the most accurate forecaster for the Western States, and he was named to Time Magazine's Board of Economists. In 2006, The Wall Street Journal featured a story naming Dr. Sohn as the most accurate economist in the United States. This is one of the most prestigious honors in the economics profession.
Dr. Sohn was chosen as one of the 100 most influential Minnesotans of the 20th century by the state’s largest daily newspaper, The Star Tribune. Others on the list included Charles Lindberg, Sinclair Lewis, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Charles Schultz of Peanuts.
Dr. Sohn was a Commissioner of the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest seaport. He has served on the boards of Hanmi Financial Corporation, First California Bancorporation, Cryo Cell International, Ministers Mutual Life Insurance Company, LA Music Center (Performing Arts), Children’s Bureau of Los Angeles, Foreign Affairs Council of LA, Park Nicollet Health Services, The Blake School, Minnesota Community College System, North Memorial Medical Center, Harvard Business School Association of Minnesota, Crystal Evangelical Free Church, Children's Theater Company, and the American Heart Association of Minnesota and Girl Scouts of Minnesota.
He is the author of two books: Global Financial Crisis and Exit Strategy (2009) and The New Economy (2014).
Dr. Sohn was educated at the University of Pittsburgh, Harvard Business School and MIT.
Artificial Intelligence and You: Will You Disrupt or Be Disrupted by It
• Will you miss new opportunities and be swept aside or will you create new markets and disrupt existing ones?
• Will your jobs be safe from AI? Safe and vulnerable jobs in the face of the new megatrend are discussed.
• This presentation visits China, the leader in AI and how it is applied there. T
• The speech briefly explains what AI is and how it can be used in your business. Next, some examples of how AI is used in different industries (retail, banking, Investment, etc.) are discussed.
• Financial institutions are under attack from fintech. Banks, for example, could be left with regulated businesses and huge balance sheets, while technology companies including fintechs occupy a profitable portion of the business.
• How do you position yourself? A leader, a laggard or a Keep-pacer? Depending on where you are in the spectrum, you could be a destroyer or be destroyed.
Fracturing of the Global Supply Chain
• The trade war with China has disrupted the global trade pattern permanently. Now Coronavirus has accelerated the fracturing.
• What are the Western businesses operating in China to do? To mitigate the disruptions in the global supply chain, alternative value chains must be found. Often it means shifting production to countries not affected by the U.S. tariff. In some cases, it means closing factories in China and relocating to India, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
• Firms have to be flexible in their supply chain and able to adapt to change. A supply chain used to be about minimizing the cost of production. In the new environment, minimizing supply disruptions is a key consideration. Having alternative production options, even a parallel supply chain has become important.
• Businesses have shifted production to Southeast Asia and even to Latin America including Mexico and Guatemala.
• Even if the virus scare fades and consumer spending in China recovers, the fracturing of the supply chain will have a permanent impact on global economic growth. Even before the epidemic started, the supply chain was moving away from China and the disease has accelerated the trend which won’t be reversed. For example, a significant portion of apparel manufacturing had left China looking for a cheaper source. Production has shifted to Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, etc. Calvin Klein and H&M went to Ethiopia. Coronavirus has accelerated the trend.
• China’s market share in auto parts has been shrinking. Automobiles have become a hub-and-spoke system. Mexico has become a low-cost hub for the U.S. and Canada. Eastern Europe has become a hub for western Europe. Southeast Asia has become the hub for Japan, Korea, etc. The trend will accelerate.
• Electronics have followed a similar path. Samsung has already moved a large portion of its cellphone production from China to Vietnam. GoPro left China to make its cameras in Mexico. The Huawei crackdown by the U.S. government has further encouraged exodus by electronics manufacturers.
• Moving away from China is not as easy as it sounds. No country can compete with China when cost, quality, and service are all considered. Take apparel for example. Chinese vendors are a one-stop-shop providing design, dyeing, cutting, sewing, shipping all under one roof on time and budget. Bangladesh can sew but has no capabilities for dyeing. Vietnam can provide dyeing services, but no design. The Southeast Asian countries are about 10 years or more behind China in terms of the supply-chain infrastructure. No country can replicate China in the foreseeable future.
• Nevertheless, the diversification of the supply chain has begun. Everything from auto to computer parts has started to relocate to other countries in Southeast Asia. Low-tech businesses have gone to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. High-tech firms have developed alternative supply chains in Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia.
• In other words, the fracturing of the global supply chain has reconfigured global trade patterns. The global supply chains have become longer and leaner prone to fracturing. Regional trade blocks are shorter and more flexible.
• The regionalization of the trade pattern has its risks. In countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam, for example, the labor and environmental standards and the enforcement of existing laws on the books are lax.
• The fracturing of the trade patterns means more flexibility for importers and exporters. However, the added flexibility comes at higher costs.
Are a Recession and Bear Market Around the Corner?
• Since the 1770s, every single decade experienced a recession. Until now! Will 2020 repeat history?
• The yield curve has inverted. The stock market is overvalued. Corporate debt is overstretched. Manufacturing is in recession.
• Will the aftermath of the trade war and Coronavirus push the U.S. and global economy over the cliff?
• However, consumers---a lion’s share of the economy--- remain a bulwark against a possible downturn.
• The Federal Reserve is determined to keep the expansion going and another tax cut in an election year can’t be ruled out.
• The speech covers the global, U.S. outlook and the stock market.
• The industry outlook the audience is interested in is also covered
Successful Business Strategies: Elephants and Ants
• Do you know what your competitive advantages are? Do you know what your competitors are doing? Can you predict your competitors’ reactions to any move you make?
• Understanding your competitive advantage is a key to success. Once you understand the wall protecting you, reinforcing and fortifying it is important. Then you are an elephant enjoying the good life. Or you could be an ant looking in from outside.
• The essence of competitive advantages is discussed. What gives you advantages? How do you respond when your competitors have the advantages?
• Several case studies are introduced including Walmart, Coors Beer, Fox, Cola Drinks, Kodak, Polaroid, Microsoft, Disney, Netflix, etc. How are service businesses different?
• In the long-run, everything is a toaster. How do you maintain your competitive advantage in the long run? How do you know you are enjoying competitive advantages in the long run?
• How can you apply legal price discrimination to your advantage?
• The speech concludes with some Do’s and Don’ts for businesses to consider to remain competitive.
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