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Technology-Enabled Disruption: Implications for Business, Labor Markets and Monetary Policy

May 24–25, 2018 Dallas Fed

Organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Technology-enabled disruption means workers are increasingly being replaced by technology. It also means that existing business models are being supplanted by new models, often technology-enabled, for more efficiently selling or distributing goods and services. In addition, consumers are increasingly able to use technology to shop for goods and services at lower prices with greater convenience—having the impact of reducing the pricing power of businesses which has, in turn, caused them to further intensify their focus on creating greater operational efficiencies. These trends appear to be accelerating.

It is likely that disruption is a factor in economic outcomes being more and more skewed by educational attainment levels of workers. Increasingly, workers with lower levels of educational attainment are seeing their jobs restructured or eliminated. Unless they have sufficient math and literacy skills, or are retrained, these workers may see their productivity and incomes decline as a result of disruption. This may help explain the muted levels of wage gains and overall labor productivity growth we see in the U.S. as well as other advanced economies.

The impact of technology-enabled disruption on the workforce is likely not susceptible to monetary policy—it requires structural reforms. The reforms could include improving early childhood literacy and overall college readiness in order to increase the percentage of students who graduate college in six years or less—now estimated at 59 percent in the U.S. They would also include stepped up efforts to increase middle skills training in cities across the U.S. in order to improve employment, close the skills gap (not enough workers to fill skilled jobs) and raise worker productivity.

Disruption may also help explain why companies, facing one or more disruptive competitors, have been more cautious about making capacity-expansion decisions as well as investing in major capital projects.

To deal with disruptive changes and lack of pricing power, many companies are seeking to achieve greater scale economies in order to maintain or improve profit margins. This may help explain the record level of merger and acquisition activity globally over the past few years.

The purpose of the conference is to:

  • Provide a better understanding of technology-enabled disruption and explore its implications for the broader economy, in particular inflation, productivity, labor markets, business dynamics and the workforce.
  • Promote further research on technology-enabled disruption, which affects more and more areas of economic life.


  • Thursday and Friday, May 24–25, 2018


  • Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
    2200 N. Pearl Street
    Dallas, TX 75201
  • Directions


Thursday, May 24
8:30 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:30 a.m. Welcome
Mark A. Wynne, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
9:35 a.m. Opening Remarks
Raphael Bostic, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Robert S. Kaplan, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
10:00 a.m. Session I: The Disruption Challenge Facing Business
Moderator: Robert S. Kaplan
Tom Fanning, Southern Co.
John Stephens, AT&T Inc. 
Troy Taylor, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida
Myron E. "Mike" Ullman, J.C. Penney, retired
11:30 a.m. Working Lunch
Session II: Defining Disruption—The View from Academia
Moderator: Daniel G. Sullivan, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Jan W. Rivkin, Harvard University
Willy Shih, Harvard University
1:00 p.m. Session III: Broader Labor Market Implications of Technology-Enabled Disruption
Moderator: Mary C. Daly, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Patrick Harker, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
William Kerr, Harvard University
Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
2:30 p.m. Break
2:45 p.m. Session IV: Roundtable on the Implications of Technology-Enabled Disruption for Workforce Development
Moderator: Pia M. Orrenius, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Joe May, Dallas County Community College District
William Serrata, El Paso Community College
Michael J. Sorrell, Paul Quinn College
4:15 p.m. Break
4:30 p.m. Session V: Disruption, Entrepreneurship and Small-Business-Dynamism
Moderator: Mine K. Yücel, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
John C. Haltiwanger, University of Maryland
Deepak Hegde, New York University
Antoinette Schoar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
James Conrad “Rad” Weaver, McCombs Partners
6:00 p.m. Reception
6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:00 p.m.

Dinner Keynote
Introduction: Thomas I. Barkin, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
Speaker: Martin Feldstein
, Harvard University

8:00 p.m. Adjourn for the day
Friday, May 25
7:30 a.m. Registration and Breakfast
8:30 a.m.

Session VI: The Workforce Ecosystem: Local and Regional Solutions
Mark A. Wynne
Alfreda B. Norman, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

9:00 a.m. Session VII: Disruption and the Broader Economy
Moderator: Michael Dotsey, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Michael J. Boskin, Stanford University
Mark Duggan, Stanford University
Ganesh Padmanabhan, CognitiveScale
Chad Syverson, Univeristy of Chicago
10:30 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. Session VIII: Policymaker Panel
Moderator: David E. Altig, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Raphael Bostic
Charles Evans, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Robert S. Kaplan
12:15 p.m. Lunch
12:45 p.m. Session IX: Where Next?
Moderator: Joseph S. Tracy, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
David E. Altig
Marc P. Giannoni, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Daniel G. Sullivan
1:30 p.m. Closing Remarks
Robert S. Kaplan
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