What some expect from Jackson Hole, the ‘meeting of the minds’ of Fed policy

The closely followed Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium starts Friday with many strategists foreseeing no major policy changes from the central bankers attending the annual retreat.

Still, some are watching specifically for remarks from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi as it relates to euro zone monetary policy.

"It's more or less a 'meeting of the minds' when it comes to Fed policy," said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors. He said the Federal Reserve is typically in focus, but Draghi will be the most important speaker.

Any policy shift could have ripple effects in the United States. Morganlander is not expecting any substantial signal from Draghi regarding monetary policy and the bank's historically low interest rates and quantitative easing measures, but he will be closely watched.

This outlook is more or less consistent with a report from Reuters last week that detailed two unnamed sources' expectations that Draghi will not change monetary policy.

"Expectations that this will be a big monetary policy speech are wrong," one of the unnamed sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Rather, Draghi is expected to focus on the Wyoming symposium's key theme of central bankers congregating to look ahead at the global economy's emerging issues.

Morganlander said that when the central bank does indeed move toward shifting interest rate policy, "it's going to be slow and quite glacial."

The symposium likely marks "the end of the market's summer, and the consolidation phase," Brown Brothers Harriman currency strategist Marc Chandler wrote in a note to clients Monday. It is unlikely that Fed Chair Janet Yellen's remarks will deviate meaningfully from the gist of New York Fed President William Dudley's recent comments regarding inflation. Dudley essentially reinforced the central bank's gradual tightening plan over the coming months and said "sluggish" productivity growth is behind recent tepid wage growth.

"The topic at hand lends itself to a larger discussion about growth and productivity," Chandler wrote. "It is an opportunity to trot out her own hobby horse about the important steps that need to be done to increase participation in the workforce."

Representatives from the central banks of more than 40 countries will attend the annual gathering, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.


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