Yellen Said to Plan Skipping Jackson Hole Conference This Year

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen plans to skip the annual gathering of economists and policy makers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this year, a spokeswoman for the central bank in Washington said.

The event, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, attracts central bankers from around the world at a lodge with a view of Grand Teton National Park.

The topic of this year’s Aug. 27-29 gathering is inflation dynamics and monetary policy. Past symposiums have looked at issues such as housing finance and monetary policy, income inequality and budget deficits.

A Fed chair’s absence at the event is not unprecedented. Yellen’s predecessor, Ben S. Bernanke, didn’t attend his last year in the job.

Yellen will participate from time to time in the future as part of a speaking schedule that includes a variety of venues and events, the Fed Board spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

At the 2014 conference, Yellen spoke on labor dynamics and monetary policy. She said too many Americans were still out of work even after gains made during the five years of economic recovery. She pointed to “weaker labor market conditions” than indicated by the unemployment rate, which was 6.2 percent at the time, compared with 5.4 percent in April.

Yellen and her Fed colleagues are debating the timing of the first increase in the benchmark U.S. interest rate since 2006. The next meeting of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled for June 16-17, although many Fed officials thought it “unlikely” that rates would be raised then, according to minutes of their April meeting.

Labor Market

Jackson Hole has an agenda-setting reputation. In 2010 and 2012, Bernanke signaled new rounds of bond purchases. Columbia University Professor Michael Woodford’s call for “forward guidance” on the intended path for monetary policy was subsequently heeded by U.S. and European central bankers.

The event began in Kansas City in 1978 and has been held in Jackson Hole since 1982.