Every year since the late 1970s, the Kansas Fed has organised a symposium to discuss important economic issues of the day. In 1982, after several had been held in different towns without meeting the expected success, the Kansas Fed was very keen to invite a big name to arouse interest.
This choice fell on Paul Volcker, the head of the Fed. Since Volker was a fishing enthusiast, the organisers were looking for a place renowned for its fish-bearing waters in order to ensure that this legend would be present. As August is not the best fishing season due to excessive temperatures, the organisers ended up choosing Jackson Hole, 2,000 metres above sea level. Following this symposium, the conference gained in importance.
However, the Jackson Hole conference really gained its reputation when Ben Bernanke was the Chair of the Fed. On several occasions, he announced or outlined very important future monetary policy decisions there. This was notably the case in 2010, when he set out the possibility of a second quantitative easing programme which actually began in November of the same year.
Should we expect important announcements at the 2021 symposium? Possibly so. After the huge stimulus programme implemented following the emergence of Covid 19, the American economy has rebounded strongly and there are some signs that appear to justify the withdrawal of these easing measures and the start of the normalisation of monetary policy. Several voting members of the Fed have recently communicated in this sense. The market also seems to expect liquidity withdrawals to begin in late 2021 or early 2022, which would confirm the announcement of the programme details for the end of Q3, start of Q4 2021.