by Troy Holland ('17)
Last Monday’s UCLA Anderson Forecast featured a keynote address by Dr. John Williams, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. He began by touching on the intense scrutiny surrounding the FOMC’s recent decision to hold the federal funds rate steady. To emphasize the Fed’s plight surrounding the rate and to tip his hat to L.A.’s marquee entertainment industry, Williams said, “Everyone’s a critic!”
A packed Korn Convocation Hall listened as Williams offered the contrasting cases for the rate's going up versus being held flat, giving one a sense of the burden the nation’s central bank faces in guiding the U.S. economy to sustained growth. Turning locally, Williams agreed with the Forecast that a near full-employment rate coupled with strong economic growth in coastal metropolitan areas makes California’s outlook bright.
After the keynote speech I was lucky enough to be able to attend an intimate Q&A with fellow Anderson students where Williams gave further nuance to the decision-making processes he and his colleagues use. Notably, his responses had a common theme: a reverence for facts and empiricism. Hearing first-hand anecdotes from the head of a Federal Reserve branch from one of the most dynamic regions of the world — just another day “In the Next.”