So This Central Banker Walks Into a Bar….

The Federal Reserve released full transcripts of its meetings from 2006. Apparently, they’re real jokesters over there. These are all real.

From January 31, 2006

VICE CHAIRMAN GEITHNER. Mr. Chairman, in the interest of crispness, I’ve removed
a substantial tribute from my remarks. [Laughter]
CHAIRMAN GREENSPAN. I am most appreciative. [Laughter]
VICE CHAIRMAN GEITHNER. I’d like the record to show that I think you’re pretty terrific, too. [Laughter] And thinking in terms of probabilities, I think the risk that we decide in the future that you’re even better than we think is higher than the alternative. [Laughter]

From the March 27-28, 2006 meeting:

MR. FISHER. Well, actually, I’m sorry, but I want to follow up on the zloty. [Laughter] And, by the way, there are 24 million sheep and close to 4 million people in New Zealand.

Also in March:

MS. MINEHAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and welcome back.
MS. MINEHAN. I notice that you are without a Hawaiian shirt. [Laughter]

More March:

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] Half of that was in my point forecast, and the other
half was not. [Laughter]

From May 10, 2006:

MR. FISHER. In short, we view this economy to be something like a 2006 BMW Z4 Roadster—Bluetoothenabled, by the way. It’s complex, it’s highly integrated, it’s a technically advanced machine that apparently cannot help itself from exceeding the speed limit. [Laughter] Thank you.
MS. BIES. My husband will attest to that. [Laughter]

More May:

MR. GUYNN. As an example of energy price pass-through, one member of our Small Business, Agriculture, and Labor Advisory Council related a story last week that is just too good not to share. He said he was at a neighborhood gas station, in the middle of filling the tank of his big SUV, when the pumps suddenly stopped across the entire gas station. An attendant came on the speaker system and announced that they were instituting an increase of ten cents a gallon. [Laughter] And the ringer is that the increase would apply not only to the remainder of the gas he was about to pump but what he had already pumped. [Laughter] Good story. What I would call real-time
pass-through. [Laughter]

Still more May:

MR. KOHN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d actually rather think about the metaphor of President Fisher—full frontal nudity—for our subcommittee than I would about the weapons of mass destruction and attack. [Laughter]
MR. FISHER. I never used the word “nudity” now. [Laughter]
MR. KOHN. Full frontal. Okay. [Laughter]
MS. MINEHAN. Take it out of the transcript. [Laughter]
MR. KOHN. “Let’s move on to monetary policy,” he said blushing. [Laughter]

From June 28-29, 2006

MR. POOLE. In fact, if I were to be as neutral as I can be on this, I would say something like 50 percent odds that we would hold steady in August and 50 percent odds of another 25 basis point raise. You could take the mean of that and say, “Well, let’s just be done with it today and raise the funds rate an additional 12½ basis points.” [Laughter] But I think that would be pretty silly.

From August 8, 2006:

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE. Thank you. Let me briefly summarize what I’ve heard and add a few comments. I think one thing we can conclude is that this is not getting any easier. [Laughter]

From September 20, 2006:

MR. STOCKTON. Viewed from the appropriate perspective, 25,000 per month is not too bad—viewed perhaps from the perspective of the Administration of Millard Fillmore. [Laughter]

More September yuks:

MR. FISHER. As one CEO told me, the only subject that has been more analyzed than the housing situation is the birth of Brad Pitt’s baby.[Laughter]

Also September:

MS. PIANALTO Apparently people are not leaving much to chance. I heard a report yesterday morning that sales at religious stores for statues of St. Joseph have been soaring. [Laughter] It seems as though people who are trying to sell their homes are buying statues of St. Joseph because he’s the patron saint of real estate, and they’re burying him next to the “For Sale” sign. Unfortunately, there is no patron saint for central bankers. [Laughter]

From the October 24-25, 2006 meeting:

MR. STOCKTON. The last FOMC meeting had been only five weeks ago, so
we simply had not had time to accumulate our usual backlog of forecasting errors. [Laughter]

More October:

MR. FISHER. The bottom line is that I think we’ve made substantial progress. But I think we have to be very mindful, Mr. Chairman, about perception if we’re to influence what really counts, which is inflationary expectations, and about whether those expectations are measured accurately by TIPS spreads, which I personally doubt. One need look no further than this morning’s Financial Times editorial or Bill Gross’s recent client letter—I’ve known Gross for twenty years, and I know he’s an oddball. Actually, I’d like that word struck from the record. [Laughter]
MR. MOSKOW. What do you want to substitute? [Laughter]
MR. FISHER. He’s increasingly addled, but his words do carry weight. In his recent client letter, he says, “Inflation is leveling off at admittedly unacceptable levels.” Hence my careful reference to the word “comportment.” I think first about the immediate statement, and I want to come to that.

Also October:

MR. MISHKIN. Some people who know me quite well have been surprised at how brief some of my statements have been. So in this case I hope you’ll indulge me a little. [Laughter]
MR. STERN. The good times are over? [Laughter]

More October:

MR. MISHKIN. The current Monetary Policy Report is really terrible. It’s dull; it’s sex made boring. I don’t want to criticize too much, but it is. [Laughter]
VICE CHAIRMAN GEITHNER. Tell us what you really think. [Laughter]
MR. MISHKIN. If it were a textbook, and I can tell you I know a lot about this, you wouldn’t sell one copy. [Laughter] So it’s a problem.

Not funny, but historically interesting since it was in October 2006:

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE. Welcome. I have a bit of business to start with before we go to Dino. Last month the Congress passed, and the President signed, the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act, which had a number of measures in it. Included among them were provisions that allow the Federal Reserve to pay interest on reserves and to reduce reserve requirements at our discretion. The act potentially has a lot of very important implications for the conduct of monetary policy, for payment systems, for contractual clearing balances, for data collection, and so on. Because of budget-scoring rules, the provisions of this act will not take place until October 2011. So I feel that, if we hurry, we can possibly be prepared in time. [Laughter] So if the group is amenable, I’d like to ask Vincent Reinhart to form a committee of senior staff around the System to begin talking about these issues. I assume at various intervals we’ll have reports and some discussions at the FOMC meeting about these issues. Do I hear any second?

From December 12, 2006:

MR. STOCKTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I worked my way through a final reading of the Greenbook this weekend, I was reminded of the old joke about the man who is told by his doctor that he has only six months to live. The doctor recommends that the man marry an economist and move to North Dakota. The man asks whether this will really help him live any longer than six months. The doctor says, “No, but it sure will feel a lot longer.” [Laughter]

Also in December:

VICE CHAIRMAN GEITHNER. The other difference between exhibits 4 and 5 is
“weaker” versus “subdued.” Does “subdued” sound weaker than “weak”? [Laughter] Or is “weak” weaker than “subdued”?

Posted by on January 12th, 2012 at 11:27 am

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