An audience of over 100 attended the 2013 UALR Arkansas Economic Forecast Conference on November 6, held this year at the Clinton Presidential Library. Speakers included Dr. David Altig, Executive Vice President and Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Dr. Michael Pakko, Chief Economist and State Economic Forecaster at the UALR Institute for Economic Advancement; and Dr. Bert Greenwalt, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Arkansas State University.
Dr. Altig presented the national economic outlook, focusing on Federal Reserve monetary policies. He also highlighted the impact that uncertainty has had on suppressing investment and growth, and pointed out that optimistic forecasts for a sharp rebound in economic activity have not panned out . Nevertheless, an acceleration of economic growth from recent lackluster trends continues to characterize the expectations of economists and policymakers.
Dr. Pakko summarized the performance of the Arkansas economy and presented his forecasts for 2014 and 2015. He described his forecast perspective as “on the high side of a slow-growth scenario.” Although Arkansas has fallen behind in the pace of economic recovery, Pakko indicated that a recent rebound in home sales bodes well for emerging trends. The increase in home sales should help support rising consumer spending and increases in construction employment. Forecasts for the Arkansas economy include an increase of 22,500 net new jobs in 2014 and a fall in the unemployment rate to 6.6% by the end of the year.
The luncheon address, delivered by Dr. Greenwalt, covered a range of topics affecting the agricultural sector in Arkansas. He described how technological change continues to transform agribusiness, and how globalization of commodity markets has presented new challenges for Arkansas farmers. Among other challenges, Dr. Greenwalt lamented the apparent inability of the U.S. Congress to pass a Farm Bill, and noted the trend of rising farm land values.
Published with the permission of Dr. Michael Pakko