LIHU‘E — While reviewing the transcripts of the Fed’s 2006 Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Kyle Akin, a blogger for The Daily Stag Hunt, noticed an inordinate number of “[laughter]” notations.
“Putting hindsight economic analysis aside, you quickly realize more than anything else, the committee is full of burgeoning comedians!” he wrote on his blog.
For example, at one point in the transcript, Tim Geithner thanks Allen Greenspan by saying, “I’d like the record to show that I think you’re pretty terrific. [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]”
Akin writes, “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 (2001-2006) and searched for how many times the stenographer’s notation for laughter appeared in the released transcripts of each FOMC meeting.”
After compiling the data, he noticed a pattern: The number of recorded laughs increased in frequency from 2000 to 2006 as the housing bubble in the U.S. came to a head.
“In 2001, the FOMC erupted into laughter 16.5 times per meeting on average,” he writes. “In 2003, it was over 19. In 2005, 27. And then in 2006, the FOMC burst into laughter nearly 44 times per meeting.”
He he named his charted findings “FOMC Funnies: Frequency of Laughter at FOMC Meetings” and offers it as possibly a new type of economic indicator.
Go to www.thedailystaghunt.com for the full report and links to the transcripts.
• Vanessa Van Voorhis, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 251, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.