The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy hosted Robert S. Kaplan, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, on Monday, March 27, 2017 for the final Conversation in Public Policy of the academic year. Bush School Dean Mark Welsh began the evening by welcoming guests and recognizing various A&M officials and the large number of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas employees in the audience. Dr. Lori Taylor, Director of the Mosbacher Institute, then introduced President Kaplan who joined her on stage for a conversation on Economic Conditions and Monetary Policy.
Not pulling any punches, Dr. Taylor began the conversation by asking President Kaplan to give his assessment of the US economy in recent years and his outlooks for the US economy, the energy industry, and the Texas economy. President Kaplan noted that the Federal Reserve estimates 2 ¼ % growth in US GDP in the coming year, somewhat sluggish, but comparable to the past seven years or so, with consumers having a greater ability spend than they did before the economic crash in 2008. He also foresaw increasing stability in the energy industry and robust growth for Texas. Kaplan added that reforms to investments and the housing market, while at times unpopular, have done much to improve the ability to safeguard and predict future recessions. An overarching theme throughout the conversation that Kaplan returned to frequently were the issues that keep him up at night: an aging work force; a globalized world in which China is shifting from a producer to consumer state; and technology advancements that are outpacing retraining.
Noting the large number of Bush School and Mays School students in attendance, Dr. Taylor turned the conversation to another important aspect of the Federal Reserve, their ability to adjust interest rates and how that affected borrowers like students. President Kaplan stressed that when adjusting interest rates, being patient and gradually raising the rate according to market factors is key. He also highlighted important changes in the US and world economies that make the high economic growth rates of previous eras unsustainable now.
President Kaplan rounded out the Mosbacher Institute hosted conversation by talking briefly on the different types of leadership needed in the private sector compared to the public compared to an academic setting. As an academic who has written numerous books on the topic, Kaplan pointed out the need for buy-in from employees, being knowledgeable on subject matter, and understanding the organization’s structure when making decisions. The crowd of over 450 joined Dr. Taylor in thanking President Kaplan with a large round of applause ending another highly informative Conversation in Public Policy.