No matter what seems to be happening elsewhere in the economy, the Wilmington area continues to grow as new residents keep on coming. On Oct. 5, UNCW’s regional economist Mouhcine Guettabi, and Tom Barkin, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, will share their takes on the situation as the keynote lunch speakers during the 2023 WilmingtonBiz Conference & Expo at the Wilmington Convention Center.
Barkin (pictured below), who has been in the Richmond president and CEO role since 2018, is expected to share a national outlook at the expo in Wilmington.
Barkin serves on the Fed’s chief monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee, and is also responsible for bank supervision and the Federal Reserve’s technology organization. He is “on the ground” continually in the Fed’s Fifth District, which covers South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Maryland.
Before joining the Richmond Fed, Barkin was a senior partner and CFO at McKinsey & Co., a worldwide management consulting firm, where he also oversaw McKinsey’s offices in the southern United States.
Barkin earned his bachelor’s, MBA and law degrees from Harvard University.
In a speech Aug. 3, Barkin tackled the question: Why haven’t we seen a recession?
He said, “I think it’s because the pandemic is still with us – not the public health crisis, thankfully, but the economic dislocation it unleashed.”
The keynote lunch will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 5 during the expo.
Guettabi (pictured below) often shares his knowledge and research with groups in the Wilmington area who need the regional economist’s perspective on how the economy is doing but with the benefit of local insights.
An associate professor of economics at UNCW, Guettabi began working at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in August 2021, becoming regional economist the following year. Previously an associate professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Guettabi earned his doctorate in economics with an emphasis in urban and regional economics from Oklahoma State University in 2012.
His published research can be found in some of the leading economic journals such as the Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, and the Journal of Regional Science.
At last year’s expo outlook talk, Guettabi highlighted two contradictory factors taking place in the economy at that time: peaking consumer spending matched with plummeting consumer confidence. “People are continuing to spend a lot of money and nobody’s acting their wage,” he said last year. “We think things are bad, but we are making that reservation at that very nice restaurant.”
As the Greater Wilmington Business Journal pointed out in a profile of Guettabi last year, his role as UNCW’s regional economist is suited to his personal skills and interests because it involves teaching, independent research and public engagement.
In Alaska, Guettabi said he would give between 30 and 40 talks annually on a variety of economic topics.
“I’m a regional economist by training, meaning my field is regional economics, which is a field that is very much in touch with what makes small places tick, and how does space affect economic decisions by people and by businesses,” Guettabi said.
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