A source who has long-term experience with the Cape Cod event acknowledged that the beachfront location might cause an appearance problem, but that to think the event constituted irresponsible spending of taxpayer dollars was missing the point. With media present and massive publicity, the source pointed out, the event was hardly being kept hidden from public view.
Similarly, a source who attended the Santa Barbara conference said it, too, was a valuable event. Just because it was held at a lovely venue, the source said, that was not the main purpose of the gathering.
The largest annual Fed conference of all is held in Jackson Hole, Wyo., site of the yearly conclave organized by the Kansas City Fed. Central bank boss Bernanke also spoke there at this year's event in August.
As in recent years, the event was held at the Jackson Lake Lodge -- a rustic setting within the Grand Teton National Park. At the lodge, cottage rooms range from $224 to $329, rooms inside the main lodge run from $224 to $319 and suites can cost from $599 to $775.
A source familiar with the Kansas City Fed conference noted that the organizers make sure to recover all of the costs of the event, with attendees paying their own way.