By Howard Schneider and Jonathan Spicer
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, United States — President Donald Trump’s name was rarely mentioned as top central bankers and economists spent Friday mulling the fate of the global economy at a mountain lodge here.
But his presence loomed large at a Federal Reserve symposium, and even without citing the man in the White House, the presentations – from Fed chair Janet Yellen, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, and a host of researchers – amounted to a broad rebuttal of many of the ideas that carried Trump to office.
It was a day when the president’s calls for financial deregulation and “America First” economic nationalism were countered by Yellen’s reminder of how a deep financial crisis wrecked the economy a decade ago, and economic research arguing that China and Mexico are less to blame for job losses than forces like technology.
“For some, memories of this experience may be fading – memories of just how costly the financial crisis was and of why certain steps were taken,” Yellen said in arguing for only modest changes to existing regulations.
Yellen is still in the running to be reappointed by Trump to a new term.
Draghi, traveling from Frankfurt and representing a group of US allies that the administration has sparred with over climate change, trade and other issues, gave a broad call for free trade and stronger multilateral institutions of the sort Trump has criticized.
“A turn toward protectionism would pose a serious risk for continued productivity growth and potential growth in the global economy,” Draghi said in a lunch address that included a defense of the World Trade Organization, the Group of 20 and other global groups he felt should be strengthened.
The rise of Trump, the vote by Britain to leave the European Union and the spread of opposition to globalization have worried central bankers and many mainstream economists who feel that the problems associated with globalization have overshadowed the benefits and morphed into broad opposition to it.
Remedies for these issues may be outside the immediate sphere of monetary policy, but they are concerned that new waves of protectionism or reckless deregulation could threaten an economic system that is currently stable and that has returned to growth across the world.
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