The Fed's biggest conference of the year kicks off on Thursday -- here's what to expect

Jackson holeAP ImagesJackson Hole, Wyoming, site of the Fed’s big economic conference.

The biggest monetary policy conference of the year, the annual Jackson Hole Symposium, is set to take place at the end of this week.

For central bank enthusiasts, this is like the Olympics. Or something like that. At any rate, this is a big deal.

The topic of this year’s conference — which runs from August 25-27 — is “Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future.”

In layman’s terms, speakers will confront the future of institutions like the Fed in light of past successes, failures, and currently held beliefs that may no longer work.

The main event will be a Friday speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who could use this speech as an opportunity to signal a more or less aggressive policy stance from the Fed going forward.

The Fed’s next monetary policy decision is due out on September 14.

Via Michael Gapen and the US economics team at Barclays, here’s a quick overview of what to expect when Yellen and others take the mic this week:

  • We believe Chair Yellen may use the opportunity to signal the FOMC’s growing confidence in the outlook for activity and inflation given the rebound in labour markets since June and the solid rise in household spending in Q2 GDP. Although some FOMC members have lingering concerns about inflation, we expect Yellen to deliver a stronger signal about the likelihood of near-term rate hike and retain our view that the next increase will occur in September.
  • A low growth, low interest rate environment may imply more frequent zero lower bound episodes. Hence, we expect debate at Jackson Hole about alternative approaches to monetary and fiscal policy that could better support the economy during future downturns, including automatic fiscal stabilizers, a higher inflation target, and nominal GDP targeting, among other items. We believe these discussions are about prudent planning for the future and do not imply that the Fed is actively considering changing its inflation targeting framework.

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