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Modified 2000-08-29
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Jackson Hole Conference 2000: Global Opportunities and Challenges

J. Bradford DeLong
delong@econ.berkeley.edu
http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/


Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming lies in the District of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. About fifteen years ago the Kansas City Fed decided that it should take advantage of the--utterly magnificent--scenery surrounding Jackson Hole to try to make its late-summer monetary and financial markets conference a focal point. Interesting people could be persuaded to work very hard on preparing high-quality talks and discussions by the quality of the scenery. The high quality of the conference would then draw still more people with interesting and well-informed views. A positive-feedback process would set in. And for central bankers, financial analysts, and academic macroeconomists alike, the Kansas City Fed's annual late-August monetary policy conference would become the place to go in order to teach and learn.

They have succeeded. The Kansas City Fed's annual late-August monetary policy conference is the place to go in order to teach and learn. It is not the case that it is "the" key meeting, but it is a good place to learn a lot, a place to listen to a broader slice of the central bank and central bank-watching community than one can usually find in any one place, and a place where what one says may have an impact. It is not that what is said at Jackson Hole is key, but it is representative. Things said there are also said at 100 other places around the world. The process of collective discussion and debate would continue at almost the same pace without the Jackson Hole conference. But Jackson Hole is a very good place to rapidly come up to speed on a large part of the spectrum of what is currently being thought (and feared).

Moreover, Grand Teton National Park remains the best place in the lower 48 United States to hike, to spot moose, elk, and coyotes, to ride rubber rafts down the Snake River, or simply to watch the sun set behind the youngest, steepest, and most breathtakingly beautiful mountain range in the lower 48.

Secret Service agents in down vests...

One thread--an important thread, but not the only important thread (equal or greater time and attention was devoted to )--throughout the conversations (both during the formal conference sessions and during the coffee breaks and dinners) was about the importance of making the csae for globalization.

Greenspan...

Fischer...

Rivlin...

In some sense, the reaping of the harvest of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich...

The lesson of FDR has been forgotten: inclusion must come first. Republicans simply cannot govern modern industrial economies...

Labor standards--not a big problem

International organizations--a big problem, but one of understanding...

Environmental standards


Gordon Thiessen, Bank of Canada:

"Here for the discussion and not for the scenery..."

"I apologize for not calling on you by name. Even my central-banking colleagues who I see regularly look very, very different here without their suits..."


Alan Greenspan: "Opening Remarks"

"...need to understand and if possible address the concerns that give rise to the desire to rollback globalization..."

"... a major advance in civilization as an opening up of world markets..." "...we need to press very, very hard on the political process to continue international liberalization..." Alan Greenspan giving us our marching orders

cost/value not cost/pound as a measure of transport costs

equity investments as a spur to technology transfer

Alice Rivlin: "...the pro-globalization elite hasn't addressed questions that need to be addressed.... The bottom half of the U.S. income distribution hasn't benefitted from much of anything over the past two decades..."


Michael Mussa, "Factors Driving Global Economic Integration" (comment by Douglas Irwin

1/3 of world GDP "involved" in world trade--half of the increase since 1950 or so due to a fall in transport costs and trade barriers...

"...international transfer of noodle technology and development of port wine..."

"It is not necessary to transport large quantities of noodles (by expensive and slow camel caravans) from China to Italy to produce a culinary revolution. It is necessary only to transport the concept of a noodle and an understanding of how noodles are made..."

"We need to be much more upfront about the losers from globalization and who they are..."

"By the middle of the nineteenth century, the cost, speed, and safety of human transport across the Atlantic had progressively improved.... By 1907 when my faterh's family migrated from Paris to New York the cost of passage was down to a couple of month's wages.... The phenomenon of back-and-forth movement is significant. It suggests that by no later than the early part of this century, the costs and risks of transportation had fallen to the point that (in contrast to earlier times) they were no longer a substantial factor in economic decisions about migration..."

"Economic incentives for migraiton to the United States... from developing countries remain very large... public policies restricting migration... are the key reason why migration has declined from the high rates prevailing before World War I..."

"Fogel (1964)... estimates that in nineteenth century America shipping of grain by wagon ceased to be economical for journeys of more than 60 miles... convert grain to a product with a higher value/weight: whiskey"

"During the age of sail... shipping by water across the Atlantic or, even more so, between Europe and Asia was mainly restricted to goods with high ratios of value to weight and substantial disparities in relative prices. Unlike recent times when there is a good deal of two-way intra-industry trade, trade over long distances consisted... of products... not produced domestically or of payment flows of gold and silver."

"The invention of steam-powered iron ships... further reduced... costs. By the end of the [nineteenth] century, the cost of shipping a ton of cargo... was probably less than one-fifth... what it had been at the start..."

Shipping costs/trade = 30% in 1800; 10% in 1850, 3% around 1900 -- after 1915 spikes and remains at 5-10%...

"...real living standards, as measured by real per capita GDP, have improved on average about three-fold in just half a century"

"world trade in goods and serfvices has expanded at nearly double the pace of world real GDP... from barely 1/10 of world GDP in 1950 to about 1/3 of world GDP in 2000"

"...from fresh flowers to electronic components to airplane parts, air cargo is the speedy and cost effective means of international transport..."

"Ocean shipping costs have fallen substantially in the past half century, perhaps by as much as a factor of four or five..."

"...it is possible that levels of protection for domestic manufacturing industries in industrial countries have declined by as much as 90 percent since World War II..."

"For the Jackson Whole conference of 1993, Morris Goldstein and I were asked to write a paper on "the integration of world capital markets"... events have been remarkably kind to that earlier paper..."

"the observation that for a country highly open to private international capital flows, the policy requirements for successful operation of a pegged exchange rate regime are quite demanding has certainly proved prophetic..."

"high openness to internaitonal capital flows... can be dangerous for countries with weak or inconsistent macroeconomic policies or inadequately capitalized and regulated financial systems."

Irwin: Increase in trade in U.S. in 1990s an increase in NAFTA trade...

U.S. Merchandise Exports

Year Exports/GDP Exports/Merchandise Production
1960 3.5% 12%
1970 4.5% 14%
1980 8% 30%
1990 7% 31%
1997 8% 42%


Paul Krugman, "Crises: The Price of Globalization?" (comment by Charles Goodhart)

How is it that IMF funds to a government to enable sterilized intervention can work?

The extraordinary swing of front-line Asian countries from huge trade deficits to huge trade surpluses in two years...

The front-line Asian countries. Recovery from the crisis. Malaysia and Korea re recovering; Thailand so-so; Indonesia in trouble. The IMF is batting one for four. Most of the GDP has recovered, but most of the people have not.

Some good people say we need free trade in goods not capital account liberalization. The problem is that transactions do not come with labels attached. The problem of leakage, and the problem of corruption...

Australia as an example of an integrated country not at crisis risk. Canada another. Floating rates. Domestic currency-denominated debt and sound macroeconomic policies.

Everybody thinks you should choose one--dollarization or floating rates--but to be polite says you should choose one or the other...

Tradition: floating rates are good because they allow you to adjust to real shocks

Today: floating rates prevent companies from taking on foreign debt

Currency boards and dollarization as keeping you from suffering one particular problem, but the old arguments against a permanently fixed exchange rate apply. Mundell. Optimal currency areas

Key: Australia and Canada speak English. Their banknotes and debt instruments have English words on them. A key advantage: you can borrow in New York in your own currency without paying a substantial premium...

"the Martians have a stable price ray beamed on the U.S.: the inflation consequences of everything--high-pressure economies, devaluation, whatever--are much less than anyone had imagined"

"lots of this seems not to be the result of institutional flaws, and the world keeps outrunning institutional reforms: we can't count on getting institutions right..."

the remarkable speed with which current accounts reversed in the Asian crisis...

"[In 1982] ... the debt/GDP ratio was a poor predictor of crises... the debt/export ratio turned out to be a much better predictor of crisis.... The view from 1983... suggested that in a way that Latin debt crisis was the result of an opening of capital markets that got ahead of the integration of goods markets. And it seemed possible, even probable, that if and when Latin countries adopted free-trade policies, and as a result increased the share of trade in GDP... crises along the lines of 1982 would become obsolete."

"The most striking thing about the Asian crisis is not the decline in output, though this was severe enough; it was the sheer, probably unprecedented size of the current account reversal, with the crisis countries as a group shifting from a current account deficit of 5 percent of GDP in 1996 to a current account surplus of 9 percent of GDP in 1998."

"In the goods market a depreciation of the currency--a rise in the price of foreign exchange--will... increas[e]... net exports. If this is the only effect the goods market curve GG will be upward sloping.... If, however, there are sufficiently strong balance-sheet effects [of depreciation] they can outweigh the competitiveness effect, causing the goods-market curve to bend backwards over some range.... Loosely, the idea is that when the domestic currency is sufficiently strong most firms are not wealth-constrained, and so the balance-sheet effect is weak; when the domestic currency is very weak most domestic firms with foreign currency-denominated debt are bankrupt, so things can't get any worse, and the pro-competitive effect of depreciation again dominates..."

"Such a hop to a bad equilibrium will certainly be a source of dismay and even outrage... yet in theory and practice the oplicy options once a crisis is underway seem very limited..."

"The answer... is that the IMF is providing funds to the domestic government that will in turn be used to support the currency through a sterilized intervention. Short-term loans from abroad provide the central bank with dollars, which are then thrown into the market; but unless monetary policy is further tightened, this is ultimately only a swap of dollars for domestic debt, not for domestic currency. Such intervention would have the effect... of reducing the risk premium.... But will the intervention be that effective? The conventional wisdom for advanced countries is now that sterilized intervention is largely ineffective..."

"It is arguable that the conditions under which sterilized intervention is ineffective do not exist in developing countries..."

"short-erm external debt--and in particular the ratio of such short-term debt to reserves--is by far the best leading indicator of recent crises. If assets were broadly fungible, this would not be the case..."

"In practice international institutions have not been willing or able to provide enough rapid deployment of funds to prevent very severe crises. And this situation does not seem likely to improve..."

"The basic belief of the dollarizers is that the... 'original sin' of developing countries iss too deeply embedded to be washed clean by a floating-rate regime..."

Australia's happy position

"The result is an economy that is doing much better in good times [as a result of neo-liberal reform], but is also far more vulnerable to sudden crises..."

Goodhart: The 1890s were orders of magnitude worse than the 1990s

What was unusual was 1945-1973

If sterilized intervention did not have some effect, why would we believe that central banks' foreign-exchange reserves have any use at all?

Paul's paper makes no reference of hedge funds, highly-leveraged institutions, or any of the other market monsters of Asian mythology...

If you mention "exchange controls," we react like Pavlov's dogs--negatively. If you mention "better and more comprehensive banking-sector regulation" we react like Pavlov's dogs--positively. But the differences between the two can be very fine indeed...

Should bank regulation be kept a part of central banking?

Why are the Maastricht fiscal criteria there?

"I always manage to rile Jacob (which is often fun): monetary policy can be too tight in that you can drive interest rates up far enough that it harms your ability to stabilize your exhange rate..."

"...intervention is much more difficult. I'm a heretic among central bankers. It is generally believed that intervention is a very weak reed. You have to be lucky, but you can use it..."

"... a difference in principle between regulation and exchange controls, and if we can do it with the nicer tool--regulation--let's do it that way..."


Panel: Andrew Crockett/Howard Davies/Randall Kroszner, "Financial Market Regulation and the New Challenges of Global Economic Integration"

Crockett: All of the view that globalization is successful, all recognize the problems created by crises...

Trade grows faster than GDP. Finance grows faster than trade

The blurring of boundaries between market segments...

"I don't want to downplay the importance of lawyers and accountants (even though there are few in this room to offend..."

Do we really like our current risk-management practices? Modern tools--like VAR models--fine at the level of individual firms, but not fine at all at the market level


Michael Moore: "Luncheon Address"


Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff (2000), "Perspectives on OECD Economic Integration: Implications for U.S. Current Account Adjustment" (comment by Ignazio Visco)

Obstfeld and Rogoff's paper is a call for starting to move now to severely reduce the U.S. current-account deficit. Obstfeld and Rogoff fear the consequences of a "hard landing" that could follow from a sudden reversal of the current account: hence better to engineer a gradual soft landing.

The big problem is that it is not clear how to do this. Looser monetary policy would boost exports, but if it increased output it would boost imports as well. Tighter fiscal policy would start doing the job, but U.S. fiscal policy is already very tight indeed: it is hard to imagine the political masters of technocratic economic policy makers accepting yet another ratcheting-up of the budget surplus. And foreigners do not seem eager to undertake the loosening of their own fiscal policies that would be needed to allow the U.S. to gradually shed the role of importer of last resort.

How would an end to the U.S. current account deficit take place? Why would it have damaging consequences for the economy?...

"The U.S. current account deficit surged to 3.7% of GDP in 1999, up from an already-high average of 1.7%... during 1992-1998... its $316 billion 1999 deficit was... the largest imbalance in recorded history.... How long can the global economic system sustain such enormous borrowings from its largest member, and what would be the consequences, especially for exchange rates, of a suden reversal? This paper argues taht the medium term real exchange-rate effects of dramatic turnaround in the U.S. current account position--a turnaround we view as inevitable at some point within the next 5 to 10 years if not sooner--could be quite dramatic.... [I]f the U.S. current account were to move suddenly into balance today... a short-run real exchange rate impact of as much as 45%.... [A] gradual return to external balance... over... three to five years [would produce a] required real exchange-rate adjustment [of]... only... around 12%..."

Trade costs "can translate into comparable biases in asset holdings.... [T]he benefits of international diversification become much less once one realizes that profits cannot actually be cashed in for consumption without paying substantial trade costs..."

"We have argued that because international markets remain segmented, a sudden adjustment of the U.S. current account could involve a very large depreciation of the dollar. This could happen even though, in any rasonable reckoning long-term national solvency, the United States can easily--indeed almost effortlessly--afford to service its current net foreign debt. Such rapid depreciations have wreaked havoc in developing countries, and while the U.S. economy is certainly more resilient, our calculations suggest that the risk of such a steep and rapid depreciation is real. The required exchange rate depreciation would be much more modest if the U.S. current account deficit were to fall gradually back into balance over an extended period, even though peak debt/GDP ratios might be higher. Of course, if nothing at all happens and U.S. saving remains at current low levels, the U.S.economy will eventually face the wrost of both worlds--a big external debt and a heightened chance that foreign invetors panic and force a sudden end to U.S. foreign borrowing. It may well be 5 years or more before that danger materializes, but it is certainly not too early to consider preventative measures."


Panel: Donald Brash/Guillermo Ortiz/Eugenio Domingo Solans, "How Should Monetary Policymakers Respond to the New Challenges of Global Economic Integration?"


Panel: Martin Feldstein/Stanley Fischer/Jacob Frenkel, "What Does the Future Hold?"


Feldstein:

Remind you all of the benefits of global integration...

Diversification of lending and investment can actually reduce risk...

Global integration of capital markets and increasing FDI leads to an increasing spread of common-law economic rules--which appear to be extremely good institutions for effective corporate governance and productive investment...

Globalization constrains governments that seek to pursue bad policies (i.e., makes bad policies completely and totally disastrous).

Too little has been said here about FDI, which is an extremely important part of globalization--and assists technology and organizational transfer. Technology, economies of scale in R&D and elsewhere, human capital investment--learning-by-doing--generated by FDI...

FDI increasing because of

  • ...end of Cold War.
  • ...changing political climate.
  • ...change in management culture: think globally.
  • ...falls in communications costs.

Short-term debt as extremely volatile form of international capital flows; FDI seems much better as a form of insurance against crises. FDI a highly positive development.

FDI is likely to increase in the future; this is likely to be a good thing.

Feldstein's judgment: the three causes of the crises of the 1990s. Paul Krugman talked about them as a sequence, but Feldstein doesn't see them as exclusive alternatives. (1) Exchange rate misalignment; (2) International balance-sheet mismatches (short-run foreign exchange-denominated obligations) which are a particular problem if they are private debts, because a depreciation bankrupts firms; (3) Weak banking-system, exacerbated by what the IMF said.

At the time the IMF said that East Asian countries were corrupt, incorrigible--it is not surprising that the crisis spread.

The IMF did not say that the crisis was one of illiquidity and not insolvency.

Because the IMF did not say this, countries lost access to the capital market.

The complexity of the plans...

Indonesia and Thailand are still in bad shape. Malaysia was not part of an IMF program. Korea should never have happened. Korea opened its capital accounts prematurely, and allowed its banks to do things they shouldn't have.

Fischer:

The opposition to globalization...

Globalization means different things to different people...

Most of us here think of globalization as the Mussa-paper globalization: ongoing greater economic integration

At daily life level, globalization means interconnection.

To others, globalization means the growth of an international American culture at the expense of local national cultures. It is an important source of opposition.

The role and power of communications technology...

As I sat on the bank of the Zambezi eating breakfast and watching the Republican conention...

Some of it is that you are taking your bubble with you.

We should not doubt the power of these communications: the end of the Iron Curtain: people understood they didn't have to live the way they had been living.

For $13000 you can get a solar or wind-powered generator plus computer plus satellite link...

Critics: worries in advanced countries about the effects of trade on jobs and the environment

In developing countries, three critics (AFP Report): Mahathir (Malaysia), Mugabi (Zimbabwe), Musaveni (Uganda)

--Musaveni: developing countries risk being further marginalized. It means nothing more than the introduction of first-world products into the third world. A blind acceptance of an ideology is dangerous. To equate globalization with a guarantee for economic advancement is false. The benefits of trade liberalization are still far from reaching developing countries.

--What are the concerns of the critics? Some are isolationists, opposed to globalization. Others are not isolationists: they want a better globalization. There are serious problems in labor standards and environmental standards.

A better globalization: --more transparency, --more power for the third world, --markets that remain closed to their agricultural and textile exports

Africa has to fight globalization either by negotiations with the core or by resistance and contradiction.

--trade does change relative prices, and there are losers.

--the ILO labor standards are not very demanding: many countries have. Of course, arguments that real wages should be equalized throughout the world are arguments for outlawing trade.

--on the capital account side: the vulnerability to reversals.

--the change in the exchange rate systems of emerging market economies is the biggest change reducing vulnerability

--forcing the private sector to bail itself in will also make a good deal

--first-world prohibitions against agricultural and textile imports are the worst blockage to free trade.

--one has to live with facts: power is unequally distributed. Increasing the influence of developing countries in a variety of international fora (changing voting shares).

--respect for local cultures: not easy for economists to deal with these...

--we should not hesitate to say that the past half-century has been one of unprecedented economic growth. Whatever the critics say, that this is a process which should be defended and improved.

--most countries continue to liberalize

--almost all emerging market countries remain open to investment--and the two largest are preparing to further liberalize

--if we manage the process well, it will continue to the potential benefit of all and to the likely benefit of almost all.

--there will be surprises.

Stern:

I want to continue the long-term tradition of World Bank chief economists giving aid and support to the IMF.


I find myself feeling much less optimistic than Stanley Fischer. With respect to the industrial core's willingness to accept third-world imports, I find myself thinking that the U.S. cannot even reliably live up to its treaty obligations to accept agricultural imports from Canada. And I remember my days doing propaganda for GATT, and my singular failure to convince a single Democratic congressional representative that getting rid of the multi-fiber agreement would--by lowering the price of pants in Wal-Mart and Target, potentially a larger effect than any change in producer wages--were likely to compress rather than widen the U.S. income distribution.

I also find myself thinking that labor standards are not a major obstacle, but I find myself thinking that environmental standards may be. Your standard first-world critic of globalization is silenced when asked if they really want to shut down the factories in Hermosillo, send the workers back to their ancestral farms, and halve their real incomes. Your standard first-world critic of globalization is not silenced when asked if they really want to keep Indonesian peasants from cutting down the rainforest to plant oil palms--even if oil palms would double their standard of living. Modern communications technologies will bring more and more images of environmental degradation in the third world. This will place first-world governments wishing to appear greener--in easy ways that do not require increasing the domestic price of gasoline--to bring strong pressure to do something about environmental degradation in the third world.

Many third-world critics of globalization fear that they will integrate their economies, and then find that the multi-fiber agreement has stayed and that first-world environmentally-motivated restrictions on their development have arrived. And they don't like the look of that future. (Others fear the interaction of globalization and their own governments: all Erich Honeker in non-globalized East Germany could do was divert enough resources to get himself a deer park and a country house; but past rulers of the Philippines, the former Zaire, and Nigeria used modern financial technology to divert much, much more. And they don't like the look of that future.)

On this issue there is no identity of political interest between the first and third world. And I can see no forum in which such an identity of political interest could be constructed.


The East Asian crisis was extraordinary because it afflicted economies that for a generation had exhibited the strongest and most robust economic growth that the world had ever seen, anywhere, anytime. The levels of foreign debt of such rapidly-growing economies--which still had large technology gaps vis-a-vis the industrial core, and thus lots of room for convergence to continue to operate--were not fundamentally out of line. Their macro policies were not unsustainable. There was no doubt of their ultimate solvency--and we here find it extremely difficult to understand how there can be a liquidity crisis of some form without substantial and serious doubt about solvency. A liquidity crisis without any ultimate insolvency risk means that a lot of money is being left on the table, and a lot of highly profitable and not very risky financial investments are not being made.

Now I happen to be one of those who thinks that the reaction to the East Asian crisis should have been more money loaned to East Asian governments for longer terms with less conditionality, and less certainty that the East Asian model--which had delivered the fastest growth ever--had reached the end of its utility. And there are others who have different--indeed, often opposite--critiques


from the Economist, August 19, 2000, "Taking a Hike: Interest rates have been rising around the globe. But central banks seem to be using different compasses to plot their course."

NEXT week central bankers face what some consider to be one of their most important monetary meetings of the year. They are carefully weighing all the evidence before making a critical decision. Should they tighten? Should they loosen? More to the point, should they pack their hiking boots, their tennis racket or their fishing rod? The meeting in question is the annual symposium of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from August 24th-26th. The official topic this year for the 100 or so central bankers and economists is global economic integration. But during the coffee breaks, the mountain hikes and the white-water rafting, they will not be able to resist their pet subject: money and interest rates.

There is much to discuss. They will gather only two days after America’s Federal Reserve meets for what may be its last chance to raise interest rates before the election. It will also be less than two weeks after the Bank of Japan raised rates for the first time in ten years, and only a few days before the European Central Bank holds its first policy meeting after its summer holiday.

The world economy seems in remarkable shape. The economists at CSFB, an investment bank, are forecasting global growth of 4.4% this year, the fastest since 1988, combined with the lowest inflation rate for more than 30 years. A decade ago, global inflation was roaring at around 30%; today it is below 5%, and in the rich economies it is only just above 2%. With figures like that, central bankers should feel able to let their hair down in Jackson Hole at the traditional Saturday-night hoedown....


Jackson Hole Schedule:

Alan Greenspan: "Opening Remarks"

Michael Mussa/Douglas Irwin "Factors Driving Global Economic Integration"

Paul Krugman/Charles Goodhart "Crises: The Price of Globalization?"

Andrew Crockett/Howard Davies/Randall Kroszner "Financial Market Regulation and the New Challenges of Global Economic Integration"

Michael Moore: "Luncheon Address"

Maurice Obstfeld-Kenneth Rogoff/Ignazio Visco "Perspectives on OECD Economic Integration: Implications for U.S. Current Account Adjustment"

Donald Brash/Guillermo Ortiz/Eugenio Domingo Solans "How Should Monetary Policymakers Respond to the New Challenges of Global Economic Integration?"

Martin Feldstein/Stanley Fischer/Jacob Frenkel "What Does the Future Hold?"


References from Jackson Hole

John B. Taylor (1999), "An Historical Analysis of Monetary Policy Rules," in J.B. Taylor, ed., Monetary Policy Rules (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

Glenn Rudebusch and Lars Svennson (1999), "Policy Rules for Inflation Targeting," in J.B. Taylor, ed., Monetary Policy Rules (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

Barry Eichengreen and Michael Mussa (1998), "Capital Account Liberalization: Theoretical and Practical Aspects" (IMF Occasional Paper #172).

Michael Mussa and Morris Goldstein (1993), "The Integration of World Capital Markets," in Changing Capital Markets (FRB Kansas City).

Huge Johnson (1989), Vintage.

Abraham Lincoln (1992), "Lecture on Discovery and Innovation," in Selected Writings and Speeches...

[(406) 446-2601 Red Lodge; (202) 255-8188; (406) 446-1601; Tower Falls, 1 PM Sunday (307) 543-2811 Jackson Lake Lodge]

Bordo, Eichengreen, and Irwin

Crafts


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