Here’s what to look for from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which runs Aug. 21-23.
— Yellen’s keynote: The highlight will be Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech Aug. 22 on labor markets at 10 a.m. New York time. She’ll probably reiterate the Fed’s view that there is plenty of room for improvement in the labor market, according to Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc in New York.
— In July, the Federal Open Market Committee changed the language of its policy statement to highlight “significant underutilization of labor resources” as a justification for continued easy-money policies, even though the unemployment rate has fallen faster than Fed officials had forecast. The Fed chief will probably “point to measures like the elevated number of workers that are employed part time for economic reasons as evidence” of continued slack, Maki said.
— Yellen “would like to move away from this being a market-moving policy speech and get it back to being more of an academic exercise,” said Michelle Girard, chief U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. “I don’t think that she will use this as a tool to signal anything in terms of the Fed’s thinking, or certainly any meaningful change in the Fed’s thinking.”
— Wage focus: Tepid growth in wages is one area Yellen could choose to explore in more detail if she wants to advance the conversation, said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics research at Bank of America Corp. in New York.