Thursday, August 25, 2016

Showdown at Jackson Hole? Forget it!

The markets have been nervous as we await Janet Yellen's speech at Jackson Hole. Now that the agenda for the Jackson Hole symposium has been released, I believe that Yellen is unlikely to announce any major shift in monetary policy in her speech.

The intent of the Jackson Hole symposium is for Federal Reserve officials to think long term. The intent isn't to make a decision on whether to raise interest rates in September, December, or next year. Instead, the purpose of the meeting is to think about different frameworks for Fed officials to do their job. Possible topics include the conduct of monetary policy and their mechanisms, financial regulation, and so on.

Three camps at the Fed
If Yellen did indeed want to signal a philosophical focus in the conduct of monetary policy, then the logical course of action is to allow one or more academics to present research in support of such a shift. Ostensibly, the presentation would be for discussion purposes only, but the real intent would be to create sufficient buzz to change how the discussion could be framed at future FOMC meetings. I had been watching the agenda for some hints that Yellen could find herself shifting her opinion towards one of three camps at the Fed:

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