Bringing the Federal Deficit Under Control: Welcoming Remarks

October 17, 2011

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis held the second discussion of its fall evening series for the general public on Oct. 18, 2011. William Emmons, vice president and economist, discussed “Bringing the Federal Deficit under Control” to audiences live in St. Louis and by videoconference in the Memphis Branch. Emmons explored the depths of the deficit problem, including whether current laws or policies are sufficient solutions, and what spending and tax reforms should be considered going forward. An engaging question-and-answer session followed the presentation.


Julie Stackhouse: I'm Julie Stackhouse. I would like to welcome you. If you were here last month, I was your speaker. And so I'm here tonight to bring some continuity, both in providing the opening remarks to you but also later in the session, being part of the dialogue when we bring together a small group to answer any questions that you might have related to the financial world or the economy, in addition to the subject that we have to cover tonight.

Now, I know this is a big time in St. Louis, so I did bring my St. Louis Cardinals cap, and I understand that some of you actually had to go by the stadium and watch the red carpet and not participate, so thank you for doing that. We're real excited that you drove by the stadium and drove to the Federal Reserve. But we'll put the hat there just to keep in mind the important event tomorrow night. And also, you can think of it a little bit as your practice drive. If you're going to the game tomorrow night, now you know exactly where to go, and hopefully we've made it a little easier for you. But we are all real excited, and I'm really grateful that game was not tonight because I think it would have been tough to convince you to come into the Federal Reserve.

So we are very excited tonight to bring to you Bill Emmons, who is an economist on my staff in the Banking Supervision division of the Federal Reserve, to talk about the federal budget deficit, what it might mean for you personally, for your businesses or just how to think about it as decisions are made in the upcoming years. Now, interestingly, this subject and bringing it to you was not our idea. For some time we've been doing informational sessions for bankers—the banks that we supervise at the Federal Reserve—and, in fact, Bill Emmons did this session on the federal budget deficit. After each of the sessions, we asked the bankers to give us feedback on whether or not we used their time wisely. And in this particular case, the bankers said "it was very good and you should take it out to other groups as well." Because what you have been able to do is to take information that, while it's publicly available, might not be easy to find and could be very helpful to members of the general public in understanding some of the challenges that face our country.

We're getting a sense for what that can look like as we look over in Europe and see some of the challenges they're facing. And, of course, here in the United States, we want to be sure we understand what our challenges are and, of course, do what we can to be sure they're managed appropriately. So that's kind of our goal tonight is to give you that information, to lay out those challenges, and hopefully inform you so as you go about your day-to-day work you have the information that you need.

As I mentioned, after Bill Emmons comes up we'll do a Q&A session. The Q&A session will consist of Bill as our presenter, I'll participate, and Chris Waller who is the director of Research here at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis will participate as well. Chris will be your speaker next month, so you'll have a chance to get to meet him. And his topic next month will be unemployment—why is it remaining so sticky and so high and what does that mean? So I think you'll enjoy that as well.

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This popular lecture series addresses key issues and provides the opportunity to ask questions of Fed experts. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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