The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City will open its annual policy summit Thursday evening at the scenic retreat outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming, drawing central bankers from around the world for a high-powered debate on inflation.
Also getting under way at the lodge is a protest conference organized by the Center for Popular Democracy, a liberal group that has been cajoling the Fed to hold off on raising interest rates. Their headline speaker will be Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and once a mentor to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who is not attending the Fed event.
Policy makers such as Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer won’t be able to avoid seeing their activists, roaming around the lodge in green t-shirts, reading “Whose recovery?” and “Let our wages grow.”
The group, which this year includes representatives from the Black Lives Matter movement, have reserved conference space directly below the room where the Kansas City Fed’s sessions take place.
Left out is the American Principles Project, a conservative organization that has heavily criticized the Fed’s monetary policy as excessively accommodative. They believe interest rates should have been lifted long ago.
The group tried to reserve space at the Jackson Lake Lodge but were refused, according to Steve Lonegan, their director of monetary affairs. So they’ll get their alternative conference started this evening in Teton Village, a more than 30-mile (48- kilometer) drive away. Scheduled speakers include Representative Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who has sponsored legislation to make the Fed more accountable to Congress.
Standing at an information table covered with gold-coin chocolates on Wednesday in Jackson Hole Airport, Lonegan complained that his group was refused space at the lodge while the other protesters enjoyed much closer access to the Fed attendees, including the media.
Kansas City Fed Spokesman Bill Medley said the bank had “no say over who else books space here.”
Elizabeth Biebl, a spokeswoman for lodge operator Vail Resorts Hospitality and Real Estate, said in an e-mail there are space limitations and the Center for Popular Democracy was accommodated at the Jackson Lake Lodge because it requested smaller numbers than American Principles Project.
“Groups interested in booking with us are not subject to the approval of other groups who already have bookings,” she wrote.
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