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Ben Bernanke Is Missing Jackson Hole: Why?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to to miss the annual Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium in August because of a "personal scheduling conflict." With the forum becoming a market moving event in recent years, it's a curious decision. The question on everyone's mind is: why?

The symposium really became a market event under former Chairman Alan Greenspan and Bernanke has continued that tradition, throughout the economic crisis, and beyond. For him not to attend the event signals one of three things:

1. End/Tapering Of QE (Not Likely)

There's been a lot of talk in the marketplace recently about the ending, or tapering, of quantitative easing. Currently, the Fed is buying $85 billion per month in U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, to not only lower employment (currently at 7.6% per the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- consistent with the Fed's dual mandate), but to stimulate the economy as well.

Recent economic data, such as the latest jobs report, sharply lower commodity prices, consumer price index, producer price index, and weekly unemployment claims have been weaker than expected. To me, and many others, that suggests the Fed is not going to step off the gas anytime soon.


The housing market has begun its road to recovery, with sales at 4.92 million units at a seasonally adjusted rate. While that's off the peak, it's still showing the signs of a healthy housing market. Despite the current strength, housing is still nowhere near where it was at its peak in the early to mid 2000's, and has a long way to climb.

Recent data put forth by Zillow show that approximately 13.8 million homeowners had negative equity, or were "underwater" at the end of the fourth quarter. That's down from 15.7 million in the same period last year, but it's still a huge number of homeowners, and is one data point that suggests the Fed isn't going to stop or taper its bond buying anytime soon.