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Expectations limited for Bernanke's Jackson Hole speech

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Jeremy Hobson: If you heard Mitt Romney's speech last night, you heard a lot about how weak our economic recovery is. Well today we might get some clues about whether the Federal Reserve is going to do something about it.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to give a big speech at an economic conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It's a place with a little bit of Fed history, as Marketplace's Mark Garrison reports.


Mark Garrison: It wasn't always this way. RiverFront Investment Group's Rod Smyth says the annual gathering used to interest only hard-core policy wonks.

But in 2010, Bernanke used his speech there to signal QE2 -- the Fed's big move to push down interest rates. Now, Smyth says people expect big news out of the little Wyoming lodge.

Rod Smyth: He sort of made it, for better or worse, a rather different venue, so there's a sort of expectations build-up every time we come to Jackson Hole.

But don't expect anything huge, like a blockbuster announcement of QE3, says Cass Business School professor Peter Hahn.

Peter Hahn: I just don't see any big announcements, particularly with the election looming. I don't think the Fed, and particularly Bernanke wants to be seen as partisan, and frankly doing anything will put you on one side or the other.

Also, the Fed has already hinted at more stimulus in the minutes of its last meeting. But anything can happen in the clean air of that mountain valley. So investors are again looking west for clues.

In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

About the author

Mark Garrison is a reporter and substitute host for Marketplace, based in New York.

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