After a three-year hiatus, the Shadow Open Market Committee (SOMC) is resuming operation. "The Shadow" is a small group of economists who meet periodically to present papers on and discuss various aspects of the economy and monetary policy that are relevant to the Federal Reserve in general and the Federal Open Market Committee in particular. They last met in May 2006 at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. They are now scheduled to meet for the first time since then on Friday, April 24, 2009. The format is changed and there are several new members. The group has not met since co-chair Charles Plosser was "demoted" to be the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia back in August 2006.
The old format involved a separate working session on Sunday afternoon, with a one-hour presentation and press conference late Monday morning followed by a luncheon. The meetings were open to the public.
The new format will consist of a three-hour symposium (well, two and three-quarters hours) in the morning with plenty of opportunity for audience participation, followed by a luncheon. The symposium is open to the public but requires advance reservation (I think.)
The goal of the SOMC, as stated on their old web site, was that:
The Committee's deliberations are intended to improve policy discussions among policy makers, journalists and the general public with the hope that wiser policy decisions will result.
The web site has not been updated since May 2006, so the SOMC "charter" may have changed, but I suspect not.
As the old web site says, "The SOMC is an independent organization whose members are drawn from academic institutions and private organizations." The SOMC is mostly academic, and certainly nobody currently in the government, although members of the SOMC have gone on to join the Federal Reserve and former Federal Reserve officials and employees have joined the SOMC after leaving government employment.
Previous members continuing on the "new" SOMC are Professor Gregory Hess of Claremont McKenna College, Mickey Levy of Bank of America, Professor Bennett McCallum of Carnegie Mellon University, and Anna Schwartz of NBER.
The new SOMC members are Professor Michael Bordo of Rutgers University, Professor Charles Calomiris of Columbia University, and Professor Marvin Goodfriend of Carnegie Mellon University.
The old SOMC met twice a year. It is not yet clear whether the new SOMC will meet on the same schedule.
I have been attending the SOMC as an observer since... longer than I can remember, since 2000.
The first SOMC meeting was back in September 1973. The SOMC was founded by Prof. Karl Brunner of the University of Rochester and Prof. Allan Meltzer of Carnegie-Mellon University.
The papers to be presented and discussed at the April 2009 "Shadow" symposium are:
- Michael Bordo: "The Great Contraction 19291933: Are There Parallels to the Current Crisis?"
- Charles Calomiris: "The Dos and Don'ts of Financial Regulatory Reform" and "TALF and PPIP: Will they Work to Unclog the Financial Plumbing?"
- Marvin Goodfriend: "We Need an Accord for Fed Credit Policy"
- Mickey Levy: "What's in Worse Shape, the Economy or Fiscal Policy?"
- Bennett McCallum: "China, the U.S. Dollar, and SDRs"
- Anna Schwartz: "Boundaries Between the Fed and the Treasury"
Gregory Hess will be moderating.
For those of us into economics, finance, monetary policy, and fiscal policy, it will be an exciting morning.
It is always interesting to listen to the form of questions asked by "the media."
See the Cato web site for details on attending.
-- Jack Krupansky