Weekly Market Outlook

A Peek at More Than Three Decades of Jackson Hole Economic Gabfests

The annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium is upon us, running Aug. 27 this year on the topic of “Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future.” The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City began hosting the conference at Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming more than three decades ago. Organizers chose the late-summer timing and outdoorsy location to attract a crowd, including then-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, an avid fly fisherman. We dug up some photos from the archives that show moments from Jackson Hole summits through the years.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Volcker attends a session at the 1982 Jackson Hole symposium. It was the first time the summit was held at its now traditional home in Grand Teton National Park and marked the switch to focusing on monetary policy topics from agricultural issues, which had been the dominate theme since the 1978 inaugural symposium. To Volcker’s left are Richard Cooper of Harvard University and Lawrence Roos, then-president of the St. Louis Fed.

Then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in 2007 stands facing the Grand Teton mountains from Jackson Lake Lodge. With ominous clouds gathering from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, policy makers were still officially downplaying worries that they had a major problem on their hands.

In 2008, Fed’s Bernanke and Timothy Geithner put a brave face on the escalating financial crisis just weeks before Lehman Brothers investment bank filed for bankruptcy. Geithner was head of the New York Fed at the time. The following year he became newly-elected President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary.

Top Trio of Finance: Fed’s Bernanke, then-Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa and then-European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet used the 2009 summit to continue the conversation about the international policy response to the global financial crisis.

Trichet delivered a stern caution at the 2010 symposium about fundamental imbalances in the global economy including debt overhang. That was after months in the midst of a European sovereign debt crisis that had already prompted a rescue for Greece and would require one for Ireland later that year.

In a speech at the 2012 symposium, Bernanke signaled a readiness to take a third stab at quantitative easing to provide additional support to the economy. The next month he announced QE3.

The chatter on the sidelines of the 2013 symposium was dominated by speculation over who Obama would pick as the next chair of the Fed to succeed Bernanke. Janet Yellen was appointed in February 2014. Pictured here at the lodge is International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaking with other guests.

In 2014, Yellen attends her first symposium as Fed chair. She’s pictured here walking by a member of the Center for Popular Democracy’s Fed Up, a coalition lobbying the Fed to be more aware of issues facing lower-income families and to have more diversity in its leadership ranks.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi used his appearance at Jackson Hole in 2014 to warn that inflation expectations in the euro area were deteriorating fast—a very strong signal that the central bank would soon embark on quantitative easing. QE in the euro area started the following March.

The Jackson Hole summit can attract dissenting voices. Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a leading advocate for progressive policies that challenge the status quo, poses for the cameras along with Fed Up supporters at last year’s meeting.