Drexel LeBow’s Annual Monetary and Trade Conference Generates Headlines, Debate

Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and the Global Interdependence Center (GIC) hosted the 29th annual Monetary and Trade Conference on Tuesday, May 24. The theme of the conference was “Is Housing Ready for a Rebound? QE2, Housing and Foreclosures: Are They Related?”

The event featured distinguished speakers addressing a range of topics concerning the economy and the housing market. The keynote speaker, Tom Hoenig, president of the Federal Bank of Kansas City, said the United States must reform its banking structure “by narrowing scope of activities by institutions functioning under the country’s safety net.” He says banks should be confined to loans and deposits to avoid another financial crisis or bailout. These remarks generated a lot of media buzz, and his proposal is posted on the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s website.

Other sessions included a panel discussion addressing the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which was moderated by Gretchen Morgenson, assistant business and financial editor of The New York Times, and a session featuring Maria Olivero, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics at Drexel LeBow. Olivero spoke about her current research into why the Fed’s QE2 (quantitative easing) is not working.

Olivero and panelists John Mauldin, a NYT best-selling author, and Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist for Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, were polled on the question of whether interest rates would be higher or lower come September. Mauldin surmised they would be lower; Vitner said he believed they would be higher; and Olivero broke the tie: higher.

During the session titled “Outlook for Housing Recovery,” David Berson of PMI said: “We are probably three years away from home prices growing at a normal rate.” Berson also made the argument that low down payments are not a major driver of default when those loans are underwritten properly.

The annual Monetary and Trade Conference is the result of a collaboration between GIC and Drexel LeBow aimed at convening top policy makers and business leaders on the important developments in international trade and global monetary policy.