Why Draghi is Skipping Jackson Hole: Time and Money?

The markets are puzzling over the ECB President’s decision to miss out on Jackson Hole’s annual central banker confab. Maybe it’s because it takes thousands of euros and sixteen hours to get there.

When the world’s central bankers descend on Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this week for their annual symposium, one furrowed brow will be missing from the crowd: Mario Draghi’s. The president of the European Central Bank, one of the world’s most-watched financial figures, announced Tuesday that he won’t attend the pow-wow, citing “the heavy workload foreseen in the next few days.”

Commentators have been quick to try and read the tea-leaves. If Draghi really is burning the candle at both ends, could it mean that a rumored ECB bond-buyback might be in the works? Could Draghi’s decision to play hookie actually juice the markets, by convincing Eurozone-addled investors that a grand bargain is in the works? Or might it spook them?

We have a different theory. Perhaps Mario Draghi isn’t going to Jackson Hole because he’s discovered something lots of American business travelers complain about: it’s a pain to get to rural destinations, and the reduction in airline capacity means it might cost and arm and a leg. Here are a few potential round-trip itineraries courtesy of Expedia.com. I’ve assumed that the ECB president flies first-class, and that he favors as few stops as possible, in order to save time. Keep in mind, these are minimums, as I haven’t factored in the price of flying out Draghi’s large staff.

The journey would take just under sixteen hours, and likely cost around $9429, or 7514 euros. The ECB may be a central bank. But in these times of austerity, it may not have that kind of liquidity lying around.