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Next month in Jackson Hole, central bankers and various hangers on will assemble for the social event of the year, if you’re a person who likes to discuss monetary policy over canapés. This time around, though, economists from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other banks won’t be in attendance, because in a fit of oh no they di’nt-ness from the hosts at the Kansas City Fed, they weren’t invited.
Among those who didn’t make the guest list: Vincent Reinhart of Morgan Stanley (MS), Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), and Bank of America Corp.’s Ethan Harris. Onetime conference regulars, including Mickey Levy of Blenheim Capital Management LLC and Meredith Whitney of Kenbelle Capital LP, also lose out. They’ll miss a conference that has foreshadowed some of the Fed’s biggest monetary-policy shifts since the financial crisis, and a keynote speech by Chair Janet Yellen. Perhaps as importantly, they also will be deprived of the opportunity to mingle with policy chiefs over meals and on mountain trails….Limiting access for Wall Street and other private-sector economists marks a reversal from the Jackson Hole conferences of past years.
While some are trying to brush off the snub as no big deal, others know that missing out on an opportunity to tell people at work you went white water rafting with Janet Yellen is something from which Jan et al will not soon recover.
“Generally you have credibility by being there and people are friendly and happy to talk,” said Martin Barnes, chief economist of Montreal-based BCA Research. “It’s very useful in the sense of networking.” Attending the conference is “a huge ego booster and regarded as a very prestigious thing to be invited to,” he said.
But rather than dwelling on brush off (and frantically calling REI to see what their return policy is on all the gear you picked up in anticipation for the trip), why not hold a rival conference? Some place far enough that it doesn’t look like you’re trespassing but close enough that your presence is felt. Fargo, N.D. could be an option.