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USM Hosts Annual Economic Outlook Forum in Virtual Format

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 08:59am | By: Van Arnold

Economic trends and forecasts will be the primary focus of the 2021 Economic Outlook Forum, set for March 4 and hosted by The University of Southern. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be held in a virtual format from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.

The USM College of Business and Economic Development is coordinating the annual forum that brings together experts from banking, finance, and academia to explore a number of issues and research related to the economic outlook for 2021. The First, a National Banking Association, serves as the title sponsor.

Dr. Bret Becton, Dean of USM’s College of Business and Economic Development, notes that for more than a decade members of the Pine Belt’s business community look forward to gathering for the forum to hear what experts have to say about the projected economic conditions for the upcoming year.

“Although the event will be virtual this year, the information provided in this outlook may be even more anticipated than any other year given the complexities and challenges associated with the pandemic,” said Becton. “We are anxious to learn about the obstacles as well as the bright spots that might exist in our markets.”

Forum speakers include:

  • Paul Benda: Senior Vice President for Risk and Cybersecurity Policy, American Bankers Association. Benda joined the ABA in 2018, where he leads the association’s initiatives in cybersecurity, physical security, and information security practices and chairs the ABA Fraud Coordination Group. In addition, he acts as a media spokesman for the ABA and the banking industry on these issues. Benda currently helps coordinate ABA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic focusing on operational issues and return to normal operations strategies. His past experiences include leadership positions in the Department of Homeland Security and in the Department of Defense.

  • Peter Ricchiuti: Senior Professor of Practice, Tulane University. Ricchiuti created and runs the nationally acclaimed Burkenroad Reports student stock research program at Tulane University. He is a graduate of Babson College and began his career with the investment firm of Kidder Peabody in Boston. Ricchiuti later managed Louisiana’s $3 billion investment portfolio while serving as the assistant state treasurer. Peter has addressed more than 1,100 groups in 47 states and several countries. He has been featured in BARRON’S, Kiplinger’s, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He also hosts a popular weekly business show on National Public Radio in New Orleans called “Out To Lunch.”

For more information about the 2021 Economic Outlook Forum, contact Whitney Branch at whitney.branchFREEMississippi, 601.266.4659 or visit: