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Esther George Effect: Jackson Hole, Women in Finance, Taper Talk

Esther George Effect: Jackson Hole, Women in Finance, Taper Talk

  • Kansas City Fed Chief Esther L. George headlines news with taper talk
  • At Jackson Hole, George makes big impact to a change in gender diversity
  • 8 speakers on day 1 at economic gathering are women, up from 0 in 2009

Ahead of the online Jackson Hole symposium of economic titans, Kansas City Federal Reserve President Esther George, among the most prominent women in finance and economics, said it’s time to begin taper asset purchases. Her taper observations came among hawkish comments from some U.S. Federal Reserve officials on the eve of the first day of the Jackson Hole symposium on Aug 27. George is regarded as one of the most hawkish fed officials, and will become an FOMC voting member next year. The first rate hike looks increasingly likely in late 2022.

What’s remarkable and less reported is the change in the speaker lineup. On day one, 8 of 17 panelists and moderators were women. American economist and Northwestern University professor Janice Eberly chaired the conference. In addition to George herself, women on the agenda included International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Gita Gopinath and Kristin Forbes, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and former Bank of Englandofficial.

University of Chicago economist and professor Veronica Guerrieri told the Jackson Hole audience central banks should maintain low interest rates for as long as possible to help job seekers move from industries decimated by COVID-19 to those that have grown during the pandemic.

For almost a half a century, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has sponsored the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium (and its predecessor) to tackle the toughest economic issues of the day. It is one of the longest-standing central banking conferences in the world, and among the most prestigious. For most of its years in existence its illustrious speakers have been men.

George changed all that in 2011 when she took the reins of the regional central bank. “When I came in, the staff that helps plan identified an opportunity to expand the role of women and minorities at the conference,” she said in a podcast on women in economics. The first challenge was to find the right women by building and tapping networks. “In year one, women met around a small table. Last year we had to move out to the full patio. We will continue to boost gender diversity at the program,” she said.

Read more about women in finance in our ongoing series.

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