Sustainability and Trade-offs of a Hot Economy: Fed Listens at the San Francisco Fed

May 8, 2019

Fed Listens San Francisco 2019

This year the Federal Reserve has launched a listening tour, reaching out to a broad range of people across the country. Through it, the Fed wants to hear views on how best to pursue its mandated goals of maximum employment and stable prices.

In the announcement of the program last November, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell explained the motivation. He stated, “With labor market conditions close to maximum employment and inflation near our 2% objective, now is a good time to take stock of how we formulate, conduct, and communicate monetary policy.”

In this outreach, the people who make policy decisions will talk with people whose lives are affected every day by those decisions. Fed officials will then consider how those insights might improve the approach to monetary policy in the future. Importantly, changes to the Fed’s dual mandate and 2% inflation objective are off the table. Instead, the goal is to have a wide-ranging discussion of the best ways to achieve those objectives.

The San Francisco Fed is hosting one of the Fed Listens tour stops on September 26. At the all-day meeting, participating stakeholders will discuss the costs, benefits, and sustainability of running a hot economy.

Here in San Francisco, we look forward to hearing diverse perspectives on the benefits and challenges associated with current economic conditions. Because a robust economy affects groups in different ways, we need to gather a wide spectrum of experiences to fully understand the impact. For example, businesses may be earning more profits but also finding it harder to hire workers and expand. Local governments may face challenges in meeting community needs, such as providing infrastructure for growing industries and transportation and affordable housing options for families. Furthermore, people may experience economic growth unevenly depending on the access to jobs, education, and other opportunities in their communities.

To collect this range of views, our event will include representatives from businesses, banks, and nonprofits, government officials, community leaders, labor innovators, researchers, and Fed leadership. A full program of the presentations and panels will be available on our website in early June.

Other Fed Districts throughout the country are covering related topics during the Fed Listens tour. The marquee event is a research conference at the Chicago Fed on June 4-5. There, academic experts and community leaders will explore a range of perspectives on monetary policy strategies, tools, and communications practices. Events in other Districts examine the uneven impacts of monetary policy on marginalized communities and strategies for bolstering economic opportunities through education, business growth, and job access.

A key goal of the Fed Listens initiative is public accessibility. With that in mind, the San Francisco Fed will live-stream its sessions and make videos available on demand afterward. Written summaries of our event sessions will also be available. The Federal Reserve Board will publish its overall Fed Listens summary in early 2020.

You can learn more about the Fed Listens initiative and events at the Board of Governors information site.

Anita Todd is senior research editor in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Rob Valletta is vice president of research communications in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.