Huntsman Post

President/CEO of St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank to Speak at USU

James Bullard, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

James Bullard to Present 2012 George S. Eccles Distinguished Lecture at USU

By Christine Arrington

James Bullard, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, will present the 2012 George S. Eccles Distinguished Lecture at Utah State University, Monday, April 16, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., in the Orson A. Christensen Auditorium (room 215) of the George S. Eccles Business Building.

Students, faculty, and members of the public are invited to attend the free lecture.

An economist and monetary policy scholar, Dr. Bullard has been with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis since 1990 and has been President and CEO since 2008.

He participates in the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which makes key decisions about interest rates and the growth of the United States money supply. In 2012, as an alternate member he attends committee meetings, participates in discussions and contributes to the committee’s assessment of the economy and policy options.

Known for his academic and policy strength, Dr,  Bullard holds a doctorate in economics (1990) from Indiana University in Bloomington and bachelor’s degrees in economics and in quantitative methods and information systems (1984) from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. A native of Forest Lake, Minn., his research has appeared in numerous professional journals, and he has been a peer reviewer for more than two dozen periodicals and institutions. He is currently co-editor of the “Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.”

Dr. Bullard also is an honorary professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is on the advisory councils of the economics department and of the Olin Business School’s Center for Finance and Accounting Research.

“We are honored to have such a dedicated and influential monetary policy leader speak here,” said Douglas D. Anderson, dean of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. “His mastery of the complexities of our interconnected economic world is prodigious.”

In a recent speech, Dr. Bullard agreed with the view that the slow pace of the recovery reflects a long-term deterioration in economic prospects, the New York Times reported March 22, 2012. He discussed two graphs comparing growth over the last decade with the long-term growth trend, showing a gradually weakening trend line.

“Dr. Bullard is credited with examining the circumstances under which our older models of economic equilibrium are correct, compared to the circumstances in which they are not, in the long run,” said Huntsman economist and professor James Feigenbaum.

In light of some “disconnects between the models academics are devising and what the policy experts need,” Professor Feigenbaum continued, “Jim has even proposed a sort of Manhattan Project bringing together economists and policy makers to come up with a more useful model of the economy.”

Policy Positions

Dr. Bullard has called for the adoption of “state-contingent” monetary policy, which is policy that is adjusted based on the state of the economy — similar to the FOMC’s careful consideration and adjustment of the federal funds rate on a meeting-by-meeting basis.

He also favors giving more emphasis to headline inflation than to core inflation for making monetary policy decisions. Core inflation excludes food and energy, two categories that are subject to temporary price shocks. He argued this case in his paper, “Measuring Inflation: The Core is Rotten,” published in 2011 in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’s “Review.”

In a May 2011 article in the Southeast Missourian, Dr. Bullard wrote, “The emphasis on core inflation may give the impression that the FOMC does not take into account some important price changes when making decisions about monetary policy. This is damaging Fed credibility in main street America.”

In the aftermath of the economic crisis, Dr. Bullard supported quantitative easing and warned against allowing the United States to fall into a Japanese-style deflationary trap. This position was laid out in his paper, “Seven Faces of ‘The Peril,’” published in 2010 in the “Review.” He argued that it may not be sufficient to utilize a near-zero interest rate policy alone to avoid deflation, but rather he advised additional quantitative easing — a somewhat unconventional monetary policy tool, at the time.

Past speakers of the George S. Eccles Distinguished Lecture Series have included management guru and author Peter Drucker, Nobel Prize winner and author Milton Friedman, and Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.