The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Economic Policy Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., is one of the longest-standing central banking conferences in the world. The event brings together economists, financial market participants, academics, U.S. government representatives and news media to discuss long-term policy issues of mutual concern.
View a timeline highlighting important moment's in the symposium's history below.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City hosted its first symposium, “World Agricultural Trade: The Potential for Growth” in Kansas City, Mo. Symposiums were then hosted in Vail and Denver, Colo., that also explored agricultural topics.
The event moved to Jackson Hole, Wyo., in the northwest corner of the Tenth Federal Reserve District. Kansas City Fed President Roger Guffey invited then-Fed Chair Paul Volcker to attend the symposium titled “Monetary Policy Issues in the 1980s.” Volcker accepted the invitation and participated in the event, which, in the years that followed, was attended by his Fed successors and officials from central banks around the globe.
At the time the topic was selected, the tentative title was “The High and Rising Dollar,” however, as the dollar’s value began to fall, organizers opted for a rewording of “The U.S. Dollar–Recent Developments, Outlook, and Policy Options.”
Fed Chair Alan Greenspan offered central bank perspectives alongside representatives from the Bank of Canada and Deutsche Bundesbank under the theme “Monetary Policy Issues in the 1990s.” It was the first time a Fed chair had a formal role on the program, starting a trend that continues today.
During this symposium, focused on “Central Banking Issues in Emerging Market-Oriented Economies,” eight Eastern Bloc nations spoke about the current environment and future challenges of their economies. Countries represented included the U.S.S.R, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia.
As Chairman Greenspan’s retirement loomed, the topic “The Greenspan Era: Lessons for the Future,” drew opposing conclusions about the legacy of one of the longest tenured chairmen in Fed history.
The theme “Housing, Housing Finance and Monetary Policy” was viewed by some invitees as boring at the time of its announcement. However, when the event kicked off in August, the housing market had collapsed, making this topic both relevant and timely.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium was conducted virtually and streamed to all participants and the public. While the event has since returned to in-person at Jackson Hole, the experience highlighted the event’s ability to gather policymakers for insightful discussions despite the challenges of physical distance.
The 45th year of the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium gained media attention for having the most diverse attendance since it began - almost 30 percent of the symposium participants and more than 40 percent of the speakers were women. This was also the last year hosted by former Kansas City Fed President Esther George, who worked to expand the diversity of the event’s participants during her tenure.
Given the role of central banks in today’s global economic environment, the symposium continues to explore relevant topics that affect many. Transcripts of the proceedings are available each year, providing a public record of the discussions.