Research & Statistics Centennial Conference: Closing Remarks by Vice Chair Philip N. Jefferson | Summary and Q&A

December 6, 2023
Federal Reserve
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Research & Statistics Centennial Conference: Closing Remarks by Vice Chair Philip N. Jefferson


Vice Chair Jefferson presents his reflections on the past, present, and future of the Division of Research and Statistics at the Federal Reserve, highlighting the role of research assistants and the challenges of using alternative data and making decisions under uncertainty.

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Key Insights

  • ℹī¸ The availability of alternative data sources has significantly expanded the possibilities for economic analysis and forecasting.
  • 🍉 While alternative data can assist in short-term forecasting, their usefulness in predicting long-term outcomes might be limited.
  • 👨‍đŸ”Ŧ Research assistants play a vital role in data analysis and contributing to research and policy work at the Federal Reserve.
  • 💄 The challenge of making decisions under uncertainty remains a central aspect of monetary policy, and the appropriate response may vary depending on the context.
  • ❓ The future of the Division of Research and Statistics will continue to require human expertise and judgment alongside technological advancements.


so folks don't leave we're not done yet okay so we are um fortunate we will have some closing remarks from Vice chair Jefferson um but uh before we turn it over to Vice chair Jefferson I wanted to say a couple of things I wanted to thank all of the speakers and presenters uh that did such a great job today made it so interesting um uh it was a it w... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How can research assistants contribute meaningfully to research and policy work at the Federal Reserve?

Research assistants at the Federal Reserve can contribute significantly by learning, analyzing data, and providing valuable insights to researchers and policymakers. Their responsibilities may include tracking and analyzing data, assisting in projections, and collaborating with economists in the division.

Q: What are the challenges and potential benefits of using alternative data sources for economic forecasting?

Alternative data sources, such as social media posts, web traffic, and satellite imagery, offer new avenues for analyzing the economy. They have the potential to provide high-frequency data and capture unconventional trends. However, it is important to ensure that the right inferences are made from these data sources, as correlation does not always imply causation.

Q: How can the Federal Reserve effectively respond to uncertainty in monetary policy decision-making?

Uncertainty has always been a challenge in monetary policy decision-making. While methods based on ambiguity aversion theories can lead to cautious and gradual policy adjustments, there may be situations where a quick and strong response is necessary to avoid severe adverse events or to anchor inflation expectations. The appropriate response to uncertainty may vary depending on the specific context.

Q: Do you foresee the use of artificial intelligence replacing human judgment in the future of the Division of Research and Statistics?

The speaker does not foresee the development of an all-powerful artificial intelligence capable of perfectly predicting the risks associated with doing too much or too little in monetary policy. Therefore, the knowledge and good judgment of the division's researchers and staff, including the research assistants, will continue to be relied upon for informed decision-making.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker expresses gratitude for the speakers and presenters at the conference and mentions that the papers presented will be available on the Fed's website.

  • Appreciation is shown to the committee that organized the event and a special mention is made for Chris Caroll's presentation on forecast errors.

  • The speaker remembers two individuals, Tomas Laach and Greg Elli, emphasizing their contributions and the loss their passing represents.

  • Vice Chair Jefferson reflects on the division's past and the role of research assistants, emphasizing the importance of learning and contributing meaningfully to research and policy work.

  • The present challenges of data analysis and the use of unconventional data sources, as well as making decisions under uncertainty, are discussed.

  • The speaker believes that despite technological advancements, the need for human judgment and expertise will continue to be a crucial aspect of the division's work in the future.

  • Congratulations are extended on the division's century of service, with an optimistic outlook for its future contributions.

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