CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Business

April 23, 2013

Bernanke to miss conference, hinting at departure

WASHINGTON —

Ben Bernanke is intensifying speculation that this year will be his last as Federal Reserve chairman by deciding to skip the Fed's annual August conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Jackson Hole has long been a high-profile platform for speeches by Fed chairmen. Since taking over the Fed in 2006, Bernanke has been the marquee speaker each year. In 2010, he used his speech to signal that the Fed could launch another bond-buying program. Stock prices jumped in response to his remarks.

His second four-year term will end in January, and neither he nor President Barack Obama has signaled whether Bernanke will serve a third term.

The Jackson Hole retreat, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, will be held Aug. 22-24. A Fed spokesman said Monday that Bernanke won't attend because of a "personal scheduling conflict." He didn't elaborate.

Tim Duy, an economics professor at the University of Oregon and author of the FedWatch blog, said Bernanke's decision suggests that he'll leave the Fed in January.

"I wonder if that indicates what we all believe," Duy said.

All eyes at the conference will likely instead focus on the Fed's vice chair, Janet Yellen, who is widely considered the front-runner to succeed Bernanke. Yellen, who previously led the San Francisco Fed, was appointed vice chair by Obama. Yellen has been a vocal supporter of Bernanke's low interest rate policies, and her selection would suggest that the Fed would continue those policies.

And if Yellen is the keynote speaker at Jackson Hole this year, "that would just confirm her front-runner status," said Zach Pandl, an economist at Columbia Management, an asset management firm.

Pandl said it's even possible Bernanke could inform the White House of his intention to leave, and Obama could publicly tap Yellen to succeed him, before Jackson Hole.

About 140 central bankers, economists, academics and government officials attend the annual conference, which is in its 37th year. In 2010, Bernanke used his speech to list the Fed's options for stimulating a weak economy, including a second round of Fed bond purchases to try to keep borrowing costs low. That was the approach Bernanke eventually announced two months later.

Several of Bernanke's comments this year have caused observers to speculate that he is ready to leave after eight grueling years, which included the financial crisis and Great Recession, and likely resume teaching at Princeton University.

Asked at a news conference last month about his plans, Bernanke said, "I don't think that I'm the only person in the world who can manage the exit" from the Fed's record-low-rate policies and $3 trillion in bond holdings. The Fed has vastly expanded its portfolio through bond purchases intended to keep rates low to encourage borrowing, spending and investing.

In congressional testimony in February, the normally circumspect Bernanke flashed impatience over criticism that the Fed under his leadership has escalated the risk of high inflation. Responding to a question from Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, Bernanke said, "None of the things you said are accurate."

"He didn't sound like someone who wanted to stick around in the job much longer," Duy said.

This year's Jackson Hole conference will occur as even some members of the Fed's policy committee are pushing to end its $85 billion-a-month in bond purchases, which began last year. That pressure could intensify by the time of the Jackson Hole conference, particularly if the economy has strengthened.

Bernanke said in December that the Fed would continue buying Treasury securities and mortgage-backed bonds until substantial progress was made in reducing unemployment. The unemployment rate remains a still-high 7.6 percent.

Assuming he does leave in January, Bernanke's absence from Jackson Hole would contrast with the 2005 conference, the last one before Alan Greenspan ended his 18-year tenure as Fed chief. That conference featured numerous encomiums to Greenspan's achievements at the Fed. Two years later, the financial crisis pushed the country into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

"In hindsight, it looks like the participants at the 2005 Jackson Hole conference missed the elephant in the room, which was the growing credit bubble and instability in the financial system," Pandl said.

Follow Chris Rugaber on Twitter at https://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaber

 

1
Text Only
Business
  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 18, 2014

  • WSCC HILL.jpg Hill hits the ground running at Wallace State

    Marcie Hill of Double Springs likes taking on new challenges. As an 18-year veteran of the education system, Hill has taught first grade, sixth grade and served as a reading coach to students and teachers in Kindergarten through sixth grade.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: A boom in firework sales

    This year could be quite the boom for fireworks sales across the U.S. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, or the APA, sales are already off to a good start.

    July 3, 2014

  • Edward Jones Recognized as 2014 Most Valuable Employer for Military by CivilianJobs.com

    Local financial services firm Edward Jones in the Cullman-area was named a 2014 Most Valuable Employer (MVE) for Military by CivilianJobs.com, recognizing the firm's deep committment to recruiting, training and retaining military veterans as financial advisors.
     

    June 23, 2014

  • CRMC welcomes Harrison.jpg CRMC Welcomes Adam Harrison, DO to the Medical Staff

    Cullman Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is pleased to welcome Adam Harrison, DO to the Medical Staff. Dr. Harrison is originally from Cullman and graduated from Cullman High School in 2002. He obtained his bachelor of biomedical science degree from Auburn University in 2006, and attended Wallace State Community College prior to Auburn. He received his degree in osteopathic medicine in 2010 from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Georgia Campus in Suwanee, Ga. He successfully completed an internship through Columbus Regional Medical Center in Columbus, Ga., in 2011. He will complete his residency through UAB Family Medicine in Huntsville, Ala.
     

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Deadly guardrails spearing drivers is whistleblower's crusade

    Harman is suing Trinity Highway and its Dallas-based owner, Trinity Industries Inc., alleging that it made quiet design changes that transformed guardrail systems across the U.S. into potentially deadly hazards.

    June 12, 2014

  • google-seo-search-results-screenshot.jpg Your new boss is going to Google you, so make sure she likes what she sees

    This is what a professional online reputation management "campaign" looks like: four people — one patched in via video — around a conference room table, jotting notes on laptops, carefully examining every trace of a client's digital existence and plotting a strategy to improve it.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Merchants Bank promotes 1.jpg Merchants Bank promotes four officers

    The Board of Directors of Merchants Bank of Alabama, a community bank since 1907, recently announced the promotions of four key officers.
    Kerry Hanvey was promoted from vice president of retail banking to senior vice president of operations. Kerry joined the bank in 1992 and has served in various positions over this 22- year period. Kerry is responsible for bank wide operations for the five bank offices.
     

    June 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • Chamber's June Small Biz of Month.jpg Chamber's June Small Business of the Month winner

    The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce recently awarded their Small Business of the Month award to Quick Tire Sales of Cullman. The award is given monthly to a local small business that meets nomination requirements. Victor Quick of Quick Tires Sales was thrilled for their business to be selected for this honor.
     

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • $15 minimum wage puts Seattle in uncharted waters

    Depending on which pundit is nattering away, this means Seattle is either going to fall off the map and become a "Mad Max"-style economic wasteland or transform into an egalitarian utopia that inspires sweeping pro-labor activism nationwide.

    June 9, 2014