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FOMC Minutes Reveal Little Known Long Time Fed Chair Tradition Of Pulling A Tiny Prank On Your Successor

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As you may have heard, the Federal Reserve is now releasing transcripts of its FOMC meetings, in an effort to be open and honest with the public about what it is they do all day. Out this morning are the minutes from 2006's get-togethers and one thing that stands out is how much fun these guys are having without us! In fact, they spent most of 2006 in stitches, as evidenced by the amount of material The Economist was able to compile under "comments from the Federal Open Market Committee meetings which resulted in laughter." They've got their beard jokes (Mr. Poole: "Okay. Mr. Chairman, it is a great delight to see a 200 percent increase in the number of beards around this table. [Laughter]"), their penis innuendos (Chairman Bernanke: "Still pretty large. [Laughter]"), and their deep nerd humor ("Again, within the normal errors of Okun’s law—despite its name “law,” it’s a pretty loose empirical relationship [laughter]"). But the biggest laugh riot which still holds up today and unquestionably has Alan Greenspan pissing his pants in laughter as he reads it at home?

From the meeting of January 31, 2006: "Needless to say, it’s fitting for Chairman Greenspan to leave office with the economy in such solid shape. And if I might torture a simile, I would say, Mr. Chairman, that the situation you’re handing off to your successor is a lot like a tennis racquet with a gigantic sweet spot. [Laughter]"

Ooo, maybe not so much! Next up, the dialogue between Greenspan and Bernanke circa May 2004 in which Benji asks the Maestro, "Hey, Boss, there’s this 2,600sf house downtown selling for $839k. Sweet deal, but it’s a bit of a stretch, you think I should hold off?" and Big Al tells him to go for it and be sure to get an adjustable rate mortgage that resets after three years.

A selection of comments from Federal Open Market Committee meetings which resulted in laughter [The Economist/Free Exchange]


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