Central bankers around the world may be gathering to solve the world's problems at their annual mountain retreat hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, but the only fur coat being sported in the lobby of the Jackson Lake Lodge is by a stuffed grizzly bear.
Policy-makers have gathered at this remote lodge in Grand Teton National Park to mull over the deep financial crisis that spread from U.S. mortgage defaults and in 2007 drove economies around the world into recessions that are just now showing signs of easing.
Attendees like being part of a select group of elite officials and musing weighty issues of the day in a rarefied setting, but there the similarities to the annual World Economic Conference in the Swiss resort of Davos end.
The guest list for this conference may be elite, but conference goers are hardly the only range of visitors at the lodge. On Wednesday, as central bankers from the Middle East peered intently at their laptops in the lobby, dozing tourists in shorts and T-shirts snored on overstuffed sofas nearby.
Television crews crammed their lights and equipment onto a small lawn behind the lodge to frame standups against the snow-streaked Tetons, where they were jostled by families on holiday posing for photos.
At Jackson Hole, policy-makers have fresh air and the scent of the spruce trees to lull them to sleep rather than the nightlife and fine dining of Davos. The lodge's Blue Heron is the only bar around for miles, and while it's busy, the musical entertainment has been known to feature a beer-emboldened television correspondent playing guitar.
Many of the policy-makers will stay in modestly proportioned rooms without televisions, minibars, or air-conditioning. The parking lot has diesel pumps and a parking area for camper vehicles.
At their formal dinner on Thursday night the conferees will dine on a Western Field and Stream dinner featuring beef and salmon served by college students working summer jobs. The night before, the conference room hosted a pharmaceutical company gathering.
A large part of the draw to Jackson Hole is the stunning American Western setting and the anonymity some of the most important economic officials in the world can enjoy here, where they trade dark suits for shorts and hiking boots.
In the past two years, Federal Reserve officials gathered nervously in rooms in the hotel to monitor the growing financial crisis and ponder their options. This year the crisis management atmosphere seems to have lifted a bit.
On Wednesday, a European central banker, filling up his plate at the breakfast buffet, told a reporter he was going for a day-long mountain tour, and at least one senior Fed official hit the trails as well.