University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Economists to Discuss Outlook for 2020 at 26th Business Forecast Luncheon

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December 11, 2019

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This year’s luncheon will be preceded by a networking event for the speakers and attendees. The networking event is sponsored by the Graduate School of Business at the Walton College and the college’s Executive Education program. All luncheon ticket holders are welcome to participate in the networking event from 10:30 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. in the John Q. Hammons Convention Center. Coffee and light refreshments will be available at the networking event.

“Business people from all over Arkansas – including a vast cross section from the Northwest Arkansas business community – look forward to hearing from the economists assembled for the Business Forecast Luncheon each year,” said Matt Waller, dean of the Walton College. “The economists’ insights into what to watch for in the next year always prove invaluable for business and community leaders from Northwest Arkansas, the state and the region.”

Waller said those valuable insights and networking opportunities are only possible through the continued strong support of event sponsors. Through such sponsor support, dozens of Walton College students attend the event who could not otherwise.

“Top economists get the opportunity to present their insights about the economy and provide key data and analysis, and top business people from the area, the state and the region 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 2020 Business Forecast luncheon include:

  • Walton Presenting Partner – Walmart and Sam’s Club

  • Walton Academic Partners – Greenwood Gearhart Inc.; RMP LLP – Attorneys at Law; Tyson Foods

  • Walton Corporate Partners – J.P. Morgan Chase, Cox Communications, Entergy, McGriff Insurance Services, McKee Foods, Smith Hurst PLC, Whisinvest Realty LLC

  • Walton Business Partners – AEP SWEPCO; Black Hills Energy; Colliers International; Conner & Winters LLP; Frost PLLC; HoganTaylor LLP; J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.; Landmark Certified Public Accountants; Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard PLLC; Nabholz Construction; Quattlebaum, Grooms and Tull PLLC; Regions Bank; Cushman and Wakefield; Sage Partners; Simmons Foods; Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP


Deming is chairman of the board of Murphy Oil Corporation. Previously, he served as president and chief executive officer. Deming also serves on the board of directors of Murphy Oil USA and previously served on the board of directors of the Entergy Corporation. He was a member of the Arkansas State Board of Education from September 1999 to June 2002. He is the past president of the 25 Year Club of the Oil and Gas Industry, past chairman of the National Petroleum Council and past treasurer of the American Petroleum Institute. He was awarded the American Petroleum Institute’s 2011 Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Achievement. Deming also is a member of the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Board and a former member of both the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust and the board of directors of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation of the University of Virginia. Under his leadership, Murphy Oil Corporation in 2007 established the El Dorado Promise which is a program that underwrites the college tuition of all graduates of El Dorado High School.

Deming is a founder and member of the executive committee of El Dorado Festivals & Events, which is the sponsor of the Murphy Arts District in El Dorado. The Murphy Arts District established an entertainment district south of the downtown core composed of several renovated buildings that are now state-of-the-art music venues and home of numerous performances by nationally known musical artists. He serves on several private company boards including Laurel Mountain Energy, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based exploration company. Deming graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976 and earned his Juris Doctor in 1979 from Tulane University.


Balmaseda is the chief economist at CEMEX, a leading global building materials corporation. He previously served as chief economist for Spain and Europe at BBVA, chief economist for Capital Markets at BBV, professor of economics at CEMFI and visiting researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis. He is also vice president of the National Association of Business Economics. He has taught at the IESE Business School in Madrid and the Helsinki School of Economics. He collaborates with the IMF, the EU Commission, the OECD and other organizations. He is a member or has been of several international organizations: The ECB Shadow Council, International Conference of Business Economists, National Business Economic Issues Council and Global Interdependence Council in the United States and EMNET, OECD and Grupo de Expertos de Coyuntura in Spain, among others. Balmaseda holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from Northwestern University and a B.A. in economics, government and mathematics-computer science from Colby College.


Hunter is KPMG’s chief economist. She heads the macroeconomic research, analytics and forecasting for the firm and is a member of the KPMG pension advisory board where she advises on pension investment decisions. Hunter works closely with the firm’s leadership and clients to identify the inflection points, risks and opportunities that arise in the constantly evolving economic landscape. She is known for correctly calling economic indicators that signal market turning points. These include the Russian currency devaluation in 1998, the Dotcom bubble in 2001, the real estate and credit crisis in 2007-2008, the recovery of the housing market and concurrent low bond yields in 2012, and the continued low bond yields during the post-Great Recession recovery and into the expansion.

Prior to joining KPMG in 2013, Hunter held high-level positions in the asset management sector for nearly two decades. She served in the capacity of chief investment officer or chief economist for a significant portion of her career, including at AXA Investment Managers, where she helped to manage over $500 billion in fixed income assets. She graduated with a B.A. in economics and sociology from New York University and holds a Master of International Affairs with a concentration in international economics from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She also holds the Certified Business Economist designation.


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, the Northwest Arkansas Council, the Walton Family Foundation, Arvest Bank, the 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 and on the Board of Directors of the Association for University Business and Economic Research. He is also a member of the National Association for Business Economics.

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 also actively works with the economic development community of the state to build Arkansas’ capacity to create high-wage, high-skill employment.

For more information on sponsorships or reservations for Business Forecast 2020, contact the Center for Business and Economic Research, Sam M. Walton College of Business, Willard J. Walker Hall 538, 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, 479-575-4151, fax 479-575-7687, or e-mail: To register online, visit the Business Forecast website.

Walton College

Walton College of Business

Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. Learn more...

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