Cox Automotive names Smoke to replace retiring Webb as chief economist

on Apr19

Smoke most recently worked as chief economist at

Cox Automotive has hired a 21-year veteran of the housing industry to take over as its chief economist.

Jonathan Smoke succeeds Tom Webb, who will retire on June 30. Smoke most recently worked as chief economist at, a California-based real estate listings website owned by News Corp.

Prior to working with, Smoke was chief economist at market intelligence company Hanley Wood and worked in several roles at homebuilding company Beazer Homes.

“Jonathan will provide a fresh perspective as he offers analysis on the automotive industry and the economic and market trends that affect our clients’ business,” Cox Automotive President Sandy Schwartz said in a statement. “Many parallels exist between the automotive and real estate industries, and Jonathan is perfectly positioned to offer actionable intelligence that will benefit our clients.”

In addition to taking over as Cox’s lead automotive economist, he will oversee the company’s new economic industry insights office. The new office will “expand upon the data the company has already delivered to the automotive industry,” Cox said in a news release.

The company also hired Charlie Chesbrough, most recently the executive director and senior economist for the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, as a senior economist to assist Smoke in the creation of the new office. Chesbrough will also oversee Cox’s automotive forecasts and new-car market insights.

Smoke was known in the real estate industry for his unique approach to economic commentary. He would sometimes assume the stage name DJ Smokey Smoke, combining his affinity for music with commentary by, for instance, playing club songs at a conference that reflect the state of the housing market.

“I’ve spent my career working with data to improve the understanding of market trends and how demand and supply come together in purchases that represent the largest investments most consumers make,” Smoke said in a statement. “I will help the company lead the industry with data-driven insights into what is happening and what the future holds.”

Smoke graduated from Rhodes College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and religious studies and from the University of Texas at Austin with a master’s degree in business.

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