Photo: Wikimedia Commons
On Friday, Bernanke will give his annual speech on monetary policy at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium sponsored by the Kansas City Fed.The entire world is wondering whether he’ll give hints about imminent easing by the Fed, as he did when he spoke at the Symposium in August 2010.
The Symposium has been held annually every year since 1978, and fantastically the Kansas City Fed has every speech archived here.
The title of the conference changes year, and looking at the names is a great, fast way of observing past economic zeitgeists.
For example, the first four conferences were on resources — specifically issues in the agriculture economy or water rights.
The 1979 speakers warned of coming water conflicts.
In the 1980s, the conferences had a familiar ring to them.
In 1986, “Debt, Financial Stability, and Public Policy.”
The keynote speech was by Henry Kaufman, and was titled Debt: The Threat to Economic and Financial Stability.
Larry Summers also gave a speech that year.
In 1988, the conference topic was financial market volatility (sound familiar?).
Speakers that year included Robert Shiller, Frederic Mishkin, and Paul Krugman.
In 1985, the topic was the dollar.
The National Debt conference in 1995 one really underlines the fact that everything old is new again.
Speakers that year included Pete Peterson, the PE boss whose life work has been warning about the national debt, Jurgen Stark, the German economist who famously quit the ECB last year in a dispute about bond buying, and Mervyn King, then Chief Economist at the Bank of England.
The 2000s started off with hope [2001, “Economic Policy for the Information Economy”], before coming full circle back to the volatility theme:
- 2009 “Financial Stability and Macroeconomic Policy”
- 2008 “Maintaining Stability in a Changing Financial System”
The big lesson: Everything we talk about and worry about today has been talked about for decades now, and really by the same people. It’s rather reassuring.