The Fed's Jackson Hole, Wyoming symposium is one of the most sacred of annual Fed meetings: it is here that the Fed has historically hinted at any and all upcoming episodes of major monetary experimentation. As such, presence by the high priests of global monetarism is not only compulsory, it is a circular stamp of approval of the Fed's ongoing status quo-preservation capabilities. Which is why the fact that the man at the top himself, Ben Bernanke, whose term is due to expire just five months after this year's Jackson Hole gathering, will be absent "due to a scheduling conflict", is set to spark a fire of questions, first and foremost of which: is this the sign Bernanke is handing over the suitcase with the printer launch codes to some yet unspecified, second in command? Or, even worse for those addicted to monetary heroin, will Bernanke simply try to put as much distance as possible between himself and the place where (and when) the Fed announces the grand "open-ended" QE experiment is set to begin tapering?
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will miss the annual Jackson Hole monetary policy symposium this year due to a scheduling conflict, skipping the prestigious event for the first time since taking the helm of the central bank in 2006.
The conference, held in late August in the splendor of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, draws top central bankers from around the world. Bernanke's absence would mark the first time in 25 years that a Fed chairman has not attended.
A Fed spokeswoman, responding to a Reuters enquiry, said the chairman was currently not planning to attend because of a personal scheduling conflict.
Bernanke, and former Fed chair Alan Greenspan, whom he succeeded in 2006, have periodically used the setting to preview important U.S. central bank actions. For instance, Bernanke hinted at the impending launch of a third round of massive bond purchases by the Fed - dubbed QE3 - at the conference last August.
In 2008, the conference effectively became the site of an economic war room as top policymakers huddled to figure out how to tamp down a virulent financial crisis as investment bank Lehman Brothers hurtled toward collapse.
This year's meeting would have been viewed as an excellent opportunity for Bernanke to signal that the central bank might be leaning toward tapering bond purchases, if the economy continues to recover as officials hope.
An unmovable personal conflict four months in advance, to avoid beautiful sights such as this?
Or the perpetually glass case-enshrined bear?
Somehow we doubt it.