Todd Hirsch

Canada’s economy, hardy and resilient, is adapting quickly to a changing global marketplace.

Chief Economist at ATB Financial | Author of Spiders in Space and The Boiling Frog Dilemma

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Todd Hirsch | Chief Economist at ATB Financial | Author of Spiders in Space and The Boiling Frog Dilemma
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

ATB Financial’s Chief Economist Todd Hirsch is one of the country’s most sought-after speakers on the economy, with over two decades of experience as an economist, professor, and commentator. In clear-eyed, energetic talks, he demystifies wealth and the economy and answers vital questions: what’s the state of Canada’s economy, how does it impact us individually, and what’s in store for the future? 

Todd Hirsch is ATB Financial’s Chief Economist and the co-author of The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline. He provides economic commentary for CBC, CTV, and the BBC, among others, and is a regular columnist for The Globe and Mail. He was named one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People by Alberta Venture. His latest project is Spiders in Space: Successfully Adapting to Unwanted Change: a book co-written with Rob Roach that draws on interviews with successful adapters in business, economics, and design to answer the question: what do you do when you lose your gravity?


For over 20 years, Hirsch has worked as an economist at companies including Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canada West Foundation and the Bank of Canada. For almost a decade, he taught economics at the University of Calgary. Hirsch holds a BA Honours in Economics from the University of Alberta and an MA in Economics from the University of Calgary. A popular speaker, Hirsch presents to over 250 groups a year in Alberta, across Canada, and internationally. He currently serves on the University of Calgary Board of Governors and is the chair of the Calgary Arts Academy. He recently received the U of A’s Alumni Honour Award, and the federal government’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.    


“Todd Hirsch was a huge hit at our convention! Sometimes economists get lower feedback ratings because they’re on a lineup with motivational speakers and the overall atmosphere and message can be so different, but a lot of people claimed he was their favourite! We get delegates to rate speakers on a scale of 1(poor), 2(fair), 3(good), and 4(excellent) and todd ranked a 3.27. Very impressive. He really did such an phenomenal job and was so easy to work with.”

Canola Council of Canada

“Todd Hirsch has been one of the closing speakers at our annual Economic Developers Alberta conference since 2009. He is always well received by conference delegates who find his presentation style easy to understand, entertaining and informative. Who knew economic forecasts could actually be fun to listen to?”

Economic Developers Alberta

“Todd was very professional, well prepared and is an excellent speaker. The content was particularly timely and relevant to our audience.”


“We have been fortunate to have Todd Hirsch as a guest speaker for many of our annual meetings. Todd’s excellent presentation skills complement his ability to explain complex topics in a simplified and interesting manner. Our shareholders have always been very impressed with Todd’s knowledge of the Alberta, North American and global economies and look forward to hearing his message and discussing various issues with him.”

Gas Alberta Inc.

“Our industry thoroughly enjoys having Todd Hirsch at our meetings. He has the ability to demystify economic trends into household words ... a must hear for any convention!”

Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association

Speech Topics

Global Economy
Spiders in Space How Canadians Are Adapting to the New Global Economy

In 2011, NASA flew spiders to the International Space Station to see if they could still spin webs in zero gravity. The surprising result? The spiders adapted; they built new webs, with new shapes and structures. And they did so without changing what they were, or what they were capable of.

Today, Canadians face a similar predicament. Global supply chains have altered traditional manufacturing and agribusiness. The selling price of natural resources has sunk. New services have disrupted legacy corporations, and layoffs and bankruptcy are facts of life. According to Todd Hirsch, Chief Economist of ATB Financial, Canadians are faced with sudden and very unwanted change—but like the spiders, we learn new and resilient ways to adapt.

In this keynote, based on his latest book Spiders in Space, Hirsch explores how Canadians are adjusting to the new global realities of the 21st century. Using examples drawn from multiple industries, and by profiling successful community leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, athletes, and more, he outlines the inspirational traits and mindsets needed to stay competitive. Far from a dire warning, this talk is an optimistic celebration of the flexible mindsets required for the new economy. We can—and will—learn to spin new webs; and Todd Hirsch is here to show us how.

Alberta and the Oil Rollercoaster What’s Next for the Energy Economy?

As oil prices continue to drop, everyone is wondering: Is it worse this time? Or is this just a garden variety downturn? In this up-to-the-minute talk, Todd Hirsch dissects our current economic situation, provides predictions for the oil and energy sectors, and reveals the impact on global markets. What does this recent plunge in oil prices mean for Alberta and Canada’s labour market? How long will it last, and what factors will dictate? And does Alberta need to diversify its economy—if so, how? Hirsch shares the latest facts and figures, answering the urgent questions that will affect not only prices at the pump, but the future of the global economy.

Global Economy
Canada’s Economy Trends and Opportunities

The global economy continues its hesitant and uneven recovery. China and the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies have shifted into a lower gear, but the U.S. economy has started to pick up steam. Europe remains in recession yet the most worrisome clouds on that continent have parted. Where does Canada fit into this emerging global economic landscape? And what trends and opportunities will present themselves?

The Rise of the West

For most of its history, Canada was a country dominated by the large, industrial economies of Ontario and Quebec. The Prairies were slow to catch up economically, and even Alberta was a “have-not” province until the mid-1960s. British Columbia has had an uneven growth record. But a major transition has taken place—one with a trend that’s picking up momentum. The four western provinces are now leading economic growth in the country, challenging the traditional dominance of Central Canada. Economics speaker Todd Hirsch has spend years studying the West. As a regional economist with the Bank of Canada, and the Chief Economist with the Canada West Foundation, he’s seen the growth first hand. Now in his role at ATB Financial, Hirsch has become even more convinced that the coming decades belong to the West. Find out what’s driving this shift—and why it will continue.

The Boiling Frog Dilemma Saving Canada from Economic Decline

What creates wealth? The answer to that may be surprising. Economic wealth isn’t created by oil and gas molecules in the ground, nor by an auto assembly plant. It isn’t created by tax credits or subsidies. It isn’t even created by economic development programs. Wealth starts with one thing: an idea.

In this talk, Todd Hirsch argues that Canada in the 21st century is at risk of falling behind internationally. We need to seriously “up our game” in terms of creativity, innovation, risk taking, entrepreneurialism, cosmopolitanism, community, and re-thinking environmental stewardship—or risk becoming economically irrelevant on the global stage.