Economists to Discuss 2022 Outlook at 28th Business Forecast Luncheon


From left, moderator Brett Biggs, International Speaker Juhi Dhawan, Domestic Speaker David Altig, and State and Regional Speaker Mervin Jebaraj

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From left, moderator Brett Biggs, International Speaker Juhi Dhawan, Domestic Speaker David Altig, and State and Regional Speaker Mervin Jebaraj

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The 28th annual Business Forecast luncheon returns next month and will feature a panel of three distinguished economists who will speak on the regional, national and international outlook for the coming year.

The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, at the Rogers Convention Center in the World Trade Center District in Rogers. 

The Business Forecast Luncheon is coordinated by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. Register now.

Panelists for the luncheon are:

  • Moderator: Brett Biggs, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart
  • International Speaker: Juhi Dhawan, senior managing director, partner and macro strategist, Wellington Management
  • Domestic Speaker: David Altig, executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
  • State and Regional Speaker: Mervin Jebaraj, director, Center for Business and Economic Research

“Learning about global, national and regional economic forecasts helps us make informed financial decisions that impact our community, businesses and personal lives,” said Matt Waller, dean of the Walton College. “The Business Forecast is unusually important this year given the uncertainty of inflation and the supply chain challenges.”

“The region’s business and community leaders get the opportunity to hear from economists about the path of the economy in the face of so much uncertainty. The state and the region can use that information to make their organizations stronger,” Jebaraj said. “I am gratified each year at the interest and level of participation in the Business Forecast Luncheon.”

Sponsors to date for the 2022 Business Forecast luncheon include:  

  • Walton Presenting Partner – Walmart; Sam’s Club

  • Walton Academic Partners – Greenwood Gearhart Inc.; RMP LLP – Attorneys at Law
  • Walton Corporate Partners – Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield; Chase; Cox Communications; Cushman & Wakefield | Sage Partners; Devereaux Real Estate Investments; Regions Bank; Steve Fineberg & Associates; Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP 
  • Walton Business Partners – American Electric Power Foundation; Buffington Homes of Arkansas LLC; CBRE Inc.; Centennial Bank; Colliers International; Conner & Winters LLP; Encore Bank; Entergy; Frost PLLC; Hogan Taylor LLP; Iberiabank/First Horizon; J.B. Hunt Transport Services; Landmark CPAs; Mitchell Williams Law Firm; Nabholz Construction; Quattlebaum; Grooms & Tull PLLC; Riverwood Homes; Simmons Foods Inc.; Smith Hurst PLC; Whisinvest Realty LLC

THE BUSINESS FORECAST PANELISTS

Brett Biggs is the executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart. He is responsible for Walmart Enterprise Solutions, which includes all finance functions as well as global procurement. 

Biggs and his team work to deliver on Walmart’s commitment. Prior to his current role, he has held the roles of chief financial officer for Walmart International, Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club. He has also served as senior vice president of international strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and as senior vice president of corporate finance. He was also the senior vice president of operations for Sam’s Club. 

Prior to joining Walmart in 2000, Biggs held various mergers, acquisitions and corporate finance positions with Leggett & Platt, Phillips Petroleum Co. and Price Waterhouse. He is involved in various civic functions including serving on the American Red Cross Board of Governors and serving on the Walton Arts Center Board and the Board of Trustees of the National Urban League. 

Biggs also serves on the Board of Regents at Pepperdine University and is Walmart’s corporate representative on the McCombs School of Business Advisory Council at the University of Texas. Within Walmart, he serves on the Walmart Foundation Board as well as being an executive sponsor for the Hispanic/Latino Resource Group. 

Biggs graduated from Harding University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and received a Master of Business Administration with Honors from Oklahoma State University. 

Juhi Dhawan is the senior managing director, partner and macro strategist for Wellington Management. 

As a member of the firm’s Global Macro Strategy Group, Dhawan leads Wellington Management’s analysis of the U.S. economy. Her work on growth, inflation, interest rates and economic policy is a core input to portfolio managers and analysts across the firm. She is an active participant in investment strategy groups and works closely with investors to translate her work into investment ideas and themes. 

Prior to joining Wellington Management in 1995, Dhawan held positions at the International Monetary Fund (1991 – 1992) and the World Bank (1992). She received her Ph.D. (1995) and A.M. (1991) in economics at Brown University. She also holds a B.A. from the University of Delhi (1989).

David E. Altig is executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. 

In addition to advising the Bank president on monetary policy and related matters, Altig oversees the Bank’s Research Division, which includes the Bank’s team of economists, the Regional Economic Information Network, and the Bank’s Community and Economic Development function. In this role, he leads the Atlanta Fed’s research and engagement portfolio on benefits cliffs. He also serves as a member of the Bank’s Management and Discount Committees and is the executive cosponsor of the Bank’s Working Families Employee Resource Network. 

Altig is an adjunct professor of economics in the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. He is currently the vice president-elect of the National Association for Business Economics, for which he served as director from 2016 to 2019. 

Altig graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Brown University.

Mervin Jebaraj is the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research. 

During his time at the center, he has been instrumental in creating and executing economic studies for clients such as the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Northwest Arkansas Council, Walton Family Foundation, Arvest Bank, University of Arkansas and many others. 

His work has been noted by the state’s business media. Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recognized Mervin in their 40 Under 40 lists and on the Arkansas 250 list. He is an exceptional source of business and economics-related expertise that journalists and business people alike rely on to understand how national and regional issues impact Northwest Arkansas and Arkansas as a whole.

He makes presentations that share the center’s expertise directly to over 5,000 individuals annually and tens of thousands more hear and see his economic analysis and commentary through television, radio and print media. 

Jebaraj serves on the Community Development Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Board of Directors of the National Association for Business Economics, the Board of Directors of the Northwest Arkansas National Airport, and on the Board of Directors of the Walton Arts Center.

For more information on sponsorships or reservations for Business Forecast 2022, mail the Center for Business and Economic Research, Sam M. Walton College of Business, J.B. Hunt Transportation Center for Academic Excellence, Suite 404, 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, call 479-575-4151, fax 479-575-7687, or email: [email protected] To register online, visit the Business Forecast website.

About the Center for Business and Economic Research: The Walton College Center for Business and Economic Research is a public service/outreach organization whose mission is to serve its constituents with the highest quality research support; basic and applied business and economic analysis; timely, relevant business, economic and related public policy information; and other outreach activities. In addition to supporting research within the college, the center supports economic development by providing economic and demographic data and analysis to business, government and individuals. The center actively works with the economic development community of the state to build Arkansas’ capacity to create high-wage, high-skill employment.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News