Business

Aug 30, 2012 5:28 PM by Lauren Molenburg

Why world markets focus on tiny Jackson Hole, Wyoming

JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming (AP) -- Every August, the world's financial markets shift their attention from the centers of global commerce - New York, London, Tokyo - to a mountain valley in northwest Wyoming. On Friday, they will hear a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

So how did Jackson Hole, Wyoming, come to wield such outsize importance in global economic affairs?

In a word, trout.

For four years starting in 1978, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City hosted an annual conference at different sites and different times of year. The event drew little attention outside the insular world of economic analysts.

Inspired by a conference the Boston Fed held near a picturesque New Hampshire site where the tearjerker "On Golden Pond" was filmed, the Kansas City Fed held its 1981 conference in scenic Vail, Colorado.

Still no luck. The Vail meeting drew the conference's smallest crowd ever.

Officials at the bank pondered how to draw bigger names and more attention to the yearly confab. That's when they had their sights set on Paul Volcker, then chairman of the Federal Reserve in Washington.

They decided to pursue Volcker by dangling the prospect of one of his favorite pastimes: fly-fishing.

They considered somewhere in Colorado. But a fly-fishing expert said Colorado's waters were too warm for trout in August. Go farther north, he said. Go to Jackson Hole.

The event now draws 140 people every year, including some of the biggest names in economic and finance. They come to enjoy breathtaking views of the Grand Teton mountain range and Jackson Lake, to hike and fish and to engage in intellectual combat in the halls of the Jackson Lake Lodge.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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