What You Need to Know About the Jackson Hole Symposium

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If you're keeping track of economic events this week, two events are likely to stand out: the FOMC minutes released on Wednesday, and the Jackson Hole Symposium that began on Thursday. In this article, we'll talk about the latter, particularly on why this year's symposium is important. But first...

What or Where is Jackson Hole?

Jackson Hole is a valley in Wyoming in the United States. Since 1982, this has been the venue of the annual Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium.

How the Jackson Hole Symposium Began

In August 1982, the US was in an economic quagmire similar to what it experienced over the past several years. High unemployment, inflation, and interest rates were crippling the economy at the time. The Fed naturally had to step in and address these issues, but it wasn't going to meet until September.

During the same time, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas was looking to promote its annual economic symposium. Its conference in Colorado the previous year didn't get the impact they expected. So they moved the conference to Jackson Hole, and invited then-Fed Chairman Paul Volcker to attend. He was convinced to do so for an entirely non-economic reason: fly fishing. Mr Volcker was an avid fly-fisher and the region was known to be the home of some of the best fishing grounds in the country.

Since then, the symposium has attracted some of the biggest names in the world of finance, including the Fed Chairman, central bankers, and academics.

This is a very exclusive event as only 140 people are invited to attend. This year, however, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will not attend the symposium, signaling his upcoming retirement from the position.

Why is the Symposium Important?

Its importance comes from the keynote speeches made by the current Fed Chairman, since it usually provides hints at changes in policy. This is why this year's symposium is a big one because traders and everyone in the field of finance and economics are looking for clues on whether QE tapering will start on September already, despite the lack of major Fed officials expected to speak.

What are They Going to Discuss This Year?

Topics are not revealed until the start of the event. But last Monday, Bank of America Merrill Lynch already leaked to its clients portions of the agenda details of the event. One agenda for example is entitled "The Natural Rate of Interest, Financial Crises and the Zero Lower Bound". In addition, the leak revealed that BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and BoE Deputy Governor Charles Bean will be panel members on 24 August.

There you have it, our quick introduction to the Jackson Hole Symposium. Be sure to keep track of any major announcements that may come from this event.

By FX Strategy Team, Published on 22nd of August 2013
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