WASHINGTON Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen plans to moderate one of the panels at the annual monetary policy conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, next month, a Fed spokeswoman said on Monday.
Fed-watchers had wondered what role, if any, Yellen might play at the prestigious central bankers' retreat, after it emerged in April that Fed chief Ben Bernanke would not attend.
Yellen is one of two front-runners viewed by financial markets as highly likely to succeed Bernanke when his term expires at the end of January. The other is former White House economics adviser Lawrence Summers.
Jackson Hole conference moderators have traditionally acted more as timekeepers for the panel they chair, and have generally not delivered prepared remarks.
Bernanke has made no public announcement about his plans, but has done nothing to halt speculation that he is ready to return to private life after over a decade of public service.
His years at the central bank encompassed the 2007-2009 global financial crisis and subsequent ultra-easy monetary policy undertaken by the Fed to support U.S. growth in the ensuing recession.
President Barack Obama has added to the anticipation that Bernanke would depart in January, telling an interviewer last month the former Princeton economics professor had "already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to."
The Jackson Hole conference, hosted annually in late August by the Kansas City Fed in the remote splendor of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, has become a top event in the central banking calendar, drawing policymakers from around the world.
Bernanke, and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan before him, had delivered the keynote speech at the conference.
In recent years, this speech has been used to signal upcoming shifts in policy, including at last year's gathering, when Bernanke laid the groundwork for a third round of massive bond buying that was announced by the Fed the following month. (Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Jackie Frank)