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In-Depth: Public Discussions Explore the Financial Crisis, Federal Deficit and Unemployment

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Will the Dodd-Frank Act lessen the impact of future financial shocks? Could the debt crisis in Europe trigger a recession here? Why is the unemployment rate barely moving even though jobs are opening up? What is driving the federal deficit?

These are among the concerns the public raised during the St. Louis Fed’s fall discussion series, “Dialogue with the Fed: Beyond Today’s Financial Headlines.” Hundreds of guests came to the Bank on Sept. 12, Oct. 18 and Nov. 21 to see the presentations and engage in open discussions with experts from the St. Louis Fed. The public series proved so popular that the final two sessions were webcast live via the Bank’s web site.

“We noticed a significant increase in interest from the general public for current financial and economic information from the Federal Reserve,” said Julie Stackhouse, senior vice president and managing officer for Banking Supervision, Discount Window Lending and Community Development. “We decided the best way to connect the public with the expertise here at the Fed was to engage them directly. The goal of the series was to provide the public with relevant and timely information as well as a forum for discussion of current issues. Based on the feedback we received, I think we addressed this need.”

Although Dialogue organizers had no shortage of possible topics related to the financial crisis and Great Recession to discuss—including the sluggish recovery, a stagnant housing market and the downgrade of the U.S. sovereign debt rating—they focused on three specific and critical themes. As explored in this issue of Central Banker, the session topics were:

  1. the origins of, responses to and lessons learned from the financial crisis;
  2. the federal budget deficit and the hard choices that must be made regarding taxes and spending;
  3. and the current unemployment situation in the United States.

Visit to view the presentations and videos, including the question-and-answer sessions. Information on future Dialogues will appear there soon.