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Sexy economist: few jobs for French lit majors

There were a few light-hearted moments during an economic forecast forum in Raleigh this morning, reflecting a more optimistic mood among economists and business leaders.

As the event wrapped up, moderator Phil Zachary, the president of Curtis Media Group, told the keynote speakers that they are helping make "economics sexy again."

"You two are the Hugh Hefner and Brad Pitt of economics," Zachary told Wells Fargo economist John Silvia and Federal Reserve economist Matthew Martin.

Silvia says: Economy, jobs to recover in 2011

The economy in 2011 is like Tom Hanks in the movie "Cast Away," said John E. Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities.

"We've survived the crash, but now we're on a very different island and we have to determine how to make it all work," Silvia told several hundred business officials on Tuesday morning at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce's annual economic forecast event.

There's no question the economy is reviving and there is little risk of a double-dip recession. Even rising commodity and energy prices won't "be able to stop this economic recovery," he said. "Overall, you have a lot of momentum going."

But there are some big changes. One is employment. There are simply certain jobs that aren't ever coming back, Silvia said.

Bowles to give economic outlook at Jan. 3 forum

Fresh off his part-time job recommending ways to fix the nation's staggering deficit and his full-time job running the UNC system, Erskine Bowles in early January will share his outlook on the 2011 economy.

Bowles is scheduled as a keynote speaker at the annual prognostication and networking forum sponsored by the N.C. Chamber and N.C. Bankers Association on Jan. 3.

His speech will likely touch on his recent work in Washington as co-chairman of President Barack Obama's budget deficit commission. Given that he is retiring as UNC system president on Dec. 31, there might be some discussion of what's next for the self-described workaholic.

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