Rebuilding Family Balance Sheets, Rebuilding the Economy: Welcoming Remarks

May 22, 2013

Julie Stackhouse, senior vice president of Banking Supervision, Credit, Community Development and Learning Innovation, welcomes attendees to "After the Fall: Rebuilding Family Balance Sheets, Rebuilding the Economy," held May 23, 2013, and introduces the speakers: Ray Boshara, senior adviser and the director of the St. Louis Fed’s new Center for Household Financial Stability, and William Emmons, assistant vice president and the Center's chief economist. She explains the creation of the Center and how its research will focus on the millions of Americans whose household balance sheets have not recovered from the financial crisis; the reverberations that are still being felt by families and the U.S. economy; and the development of new ideas to improve balance sheet health.


Julie Stackhouse: Good evening, everyone. Okay, let's try again. I know we've done this before, and we should have it down. Good evening, everyone.

Audience: Good evening.

Julie Stackhouse: Much better, thank you. So for those of you that don't know me, I'm Julie Stackhouse. I'm a senior vice president here at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis with responsibility for a number of things, banking supervision, the discount window, some staff development stuff for the Fed system, and our new Center for Household Financial Stability, which we're very, very pleased to announce that we have officially named and we've officially staffed.

So before I provide just a few comments about our two presenters tonight, let me do the quick hand poll we always do for, how many of you are here at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis for the first time? Wow, okay. So that's probably about a third of the group. So we are very excited to have you here, and for those of you returning, to have you back. Tonight's session takes us in a little bit different direction than some of those.

If you've been here before, you've heard sessions on the fiscal situation. In fact Bill Emmons did that session just a few months ago. You've heard about what's causing the lingering unemployment, high unemployment rate. You've heard about different countries and fiscal issues in other countries. We've really tried to give you a good mix of topics that hopefully make the news and the headlines a little bit more understandable.

Tonight we're going to talk about something that we here at the St. Louis Fed think is an issue that may not be getting the attention it deserves. And that is the issue of the many, many, millions of Americans whose balance sheets were severely hurt by the financial crisis who are not recovering and what that means to them and what that means to our economy. So we're pretty new in this area of research, but important enough that we did establish the center.

So tonight you're going to hear from our director, our senior policy adviser and director, Ray Boshara. Ray, who is down here in front, will open up with his comments. Ray has an interesting background. He was previously with an organization called New America Foundation, and for many of us, we call those think tanks where very smart people think about things.

But he brings an amazing set of skills and thinking about the whole area initially of building assets in individuals that don't have a lot of wealth to now thinking about how their balance sheets and the composition of their balance sheets matter to ultimately their ability to build wealth and become productive consumers in American society.

Complementing Ray's remarks will be the senior researcher in the center, Bill Emmons. You have heard from Bill before. And Bill is going to really get into some of the data on what the situation looks like, hopefully help understand not only what the data means and tells, but probe a little bit into what that might mean from the standpoint of policy implications.

And that's always the hardest thing, because as you know, we're very nonpolitical at the Federal Reserve. Yet from time to time there are policy decisions that do create incentives that influence both how money is distributed among government programs, but also how it favors the different segments of society. And so we're going to give you some of those implications as well, and I think you'll enjoy all of that. So, again, we'll have just, you know, maybe 45 minutes of discussion with Ray first and then Bill. After that, we'll reconvene up here and we'll open it up for your questions and answers.

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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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