By Olivier J. Blanchard 

With the global economic crisis as a backdrop, some of the world’s leading economists will soon join us here in Washington, D.C. for two days of intense, scholarly debate. Not surprisingly, the papers submitted for the IMF’s Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference are colored by the events of the past two years.

To give you an idea, Ricardo Caballero of MIT, our keynote speaker this year, plans to tell us about the striking and terrifying similarities between a sudden cardiac arrest and a financial crisis.

The IMF’s research conference, slated to take place on November 5–6, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Since it was first launched, the conference has become one of the main international venues for researchers and policymakers to exchange ideas. The theme of this year’s conference is “Financial Frictions and Macroeconomic Adjustment.”


The program includes eleven papers analyzing various topics related to macro-financial linkages and the roles played by these linkages in the global financial crisis. Just to give a flavor of some of the topics on offer, the conference will begin with a presentation arguing that household leverage is an early and powerful predictor of U.S. recessions.

Another paper considers whether governments’ purchases of troubled assets can mitigate the adverse effects of the crisis. Other issues covered range from the role of asset-backed commercial paper markets, financial intermediation, to the macroeconomics of debt overhang, and deleveraging.

The conference will also feature three special events. I’ve already mentioned the Mundell-Fleming lecture, which will be given this year by Ricardo, who plans to use his cardiac arrest analogy to make the case for the importance of financial regulation and systemic insurance arrangements in preventing future crises. We have also scheduled a luncheon speech by David Wessel, the economics editor of the Wall Street Journal. David’s recent book, “In Fed We Trust,” gives a fascinating inside account of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s response to the financial crisis.

In his presentation, titled “Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic: Lessons Learned,” David will comment on the future of monetary policy and financial regulation in light of what we have learned from the crisis.

On the last day, we’ll conclude with an Economic Forum onMacro-Financial Policies After the Crisis.” As the global economy slowly recovers, a number of questions are taking center stage. What are the optimal exit strategies from expansionary fiscal and monetary policies? How should monetary and financial policies be designed to mitigate adverse effects of asset price and credit booms? What types of policies are available for developed and emerging economies to cope with the global imbalances?

These and other issues will be discussed by a panel of experts, including Franklin Allen (University of Pennsylvania), Randall S. Kroszner (University of Chicago), Laurence Meyer (Macroeconomic Advisors), and Eswar Prasad (Cornell University and Brookings Institution). 

I thank the Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee, Ayhan Kose, and the Editor of the IMF Economic Review, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, together with other members of the Committee for drawing up such an outstanding program this year.

As always, the Annual Research Conference is meant to be a forum for discussing innovative research and for facilitating the exchange of views among researchers and policymakers. So, please come and join the discussion, and help us celebrate our ten-year anniversary.