ECB's Portuguese Retreat Lures Stars Who Skipped Jackson Hole

  • Yellen, Draghi and Zhou among those to speak at Sintra event
  • Central banking forum planned days after U.K. `Brexit' Vote

The European Central Bank’s annual economics thinkfest in Sintra, Portugal, has a guest list for 2016 that would make the Kansas City Fed proud.

The self-styled “European Jackson Hole” retreat in the leafy hill resort near Lisbon has a preliminary program that includes ECB President Mario Draghi, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan. Of those, only Carney turned up last year to the Fed’s annual symposium near Jackson, Wyoming.

The ECB’s June 27-29 gathering -- on “The Future of the International Monetary and Financial Architecture” -- risks being overshadowed by an event that takes place four days earlier, namely the U.K.’s referendum on its membership of the European Union. Carney’s appearance at the forum’s main event, a panel discussion with Draghi, Yellen and Brazilian central bank governor Alexandre Tombini on the final day, is labeled as still to be confirmed.

“Brexit” or not, attendees will have plenty of uncertainties to discuss. Since the ECB started the forum in 2014, Draghi has guided the euro area into quantitative easing, negative interest rates, and now the prospect of paying financial institutions to take central-bank cash and lend it to companies and households. As global policy makers wonder aloud whether the limits of monetary stimulus will soon be reached, the Sintra participants may reconsider how money and the financial system actually work.

Monetary Order

University of California economics professor Barry Eichengreen, an occasional historian of the international monetary order, is due to address the forum on June 28 in a session chaired by one of the ECB’s key thinkers, Executive Board member Benoit Coeure.

Coeure’s colleague Peter Praet, the ECB’s chief economist, will head a panel the same day that includes the chief economists of the Asian Development Bank, Shang-Jin Wei, and the International Monetary Fund, Maurice Obstfeld.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who attended last year and who introduced a negative deposit rate at his institution in January, isn’t scheduled to speak in Sintra.

The forum does offer a chance for more hints on China’s economic transition, with PBOC Governor Zhou due to give the dinner speech on the forum’s opening evening on June 27.

He’ll have an opportunity to continue the path of increased interaction with global media and the international policy community as he seeks to stabilize the yuan and domestic markets after a turbulent year. Zhou gave a rare press conference in Shanghai last month, and his central bank held its own policy symposium in Hangzhou at the beginning of March.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.