By Kyle Akin
Five years on, the powers that be have just released the transcripts of the Fed's FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meetings from 2006. Putting hindsight economic analysis aside, you quickly realize more than anything else: the committee is full of burgeoning comedians!
Commentators have already highlighted the "humor" of the FOMC meetings (WaPo, dealbreaker), but it is really over the top at times. There are periods where Greenspan seems only capable of speaking in witty quips. On that count, he was clearly at the top of his game at the top of the market.
There is one incredible exchange at the January meeting - Greenspan's last as chairman - where after complaining about the "inexorable upward drift" in the minutes spent by each board member delivering his or her analysis of the economy, Greenspan is praised by then-Vice Chair Geithner:
CHAIRMAN GREENSPAN. Vice Chair, [it's your turn to speak].VICE CHAIRMAN GEITHNER. Mr. Chairman, in the interest of crispness, I’ve removeda 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] With that, the economy looks pretty good to us, perhaps a bit better than it did at the last meeting. With the near-term monetary policy path that’s now priced into the markets, we think the economy is likely to grow slightly above trend in ’06 and close to trend in ’07...
Well, being a data nerd with nothing better to do on a Thursday night, I looked into it. To be precise, I went back for just the last six years (2001-06) and searched for how many times the stenographer's notation for laughter appeared in the released transcripts of each FOMC meeting.
|Date of FOMC Meeting||Recorded Laughs per Meeting|