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Episode 22 - [Laughter] and the Centralverse Sourced

On this week’s episode we discuss an entertaining bit of news. I then introduce an exciting new feature of Centralverse Sourced!


Welcome to The Bankster Podcast. I’m your host, Alexander Bagehot. Every episode we dive into what I call The Centralverse! The incredibly fascinating and ever more consequential world of central banking. This is Episode 22 - [Laughter] and the Centralverse Sourced.

For those of you that have signed up for the show notes at www.thebanksterpodcast.com you know that occassionally I send out a book review. I speak to a lot of people and give lots of presentations about Central Banking and the Federal Reserve. At the end of each presentation there’s normally a question or two in regards to information about the Centralverse. The first type of question starts with, “I’ve read that…” or “I’ve heard that…” Sometimes those types of questions aren’t actually questions at all but statements that they want me to respond to. The second type of question typically goes, “Where can I go to learn more?” Sometimes they ask for specific books, other times they just want a website.

Well, I’ve been hard at work for the last few weeks and I’m excited to finally be able to share with you the best sources of Centralverse information. But before we dive into the sources I go to to learn more about the Centralverse let’s take a moment to enjoy some lighthearted news from the past week.

Quantifying Fed Laughter

A listener named Blake brought to my attention last week a comical blog post from the Brookings Institute that I couldn’t help but share with everyone. I’ll get to the topic of the blog post in just a moment but first, real quick, as a premise, I have to say that this blog post provides a really interesting glimpse into the minds and lives of PhD economists. It shines a light on how they can recognize a joke but also take it very seriously at the same time. The blog post was the result of a small research project.

The scene is the FOMC meeting. They’ll be having another one here in two weeks. Imagine the setting. Lots of Economists, Bankers, Market Analysts, and Lawyers in attendance. You get a group like that together and you know you’re in for some serious business. But you can also bet that there will be an occasional joke (probably a silly math joke) that brings out a good laugh. Well, when that happens the transcript reads, “[laughter]”. No kidding, the word laughter appears in hard brackets.

Well, the economists and journalists at the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy decided to quantify the [laughter] at the powerful council that is the FOMC.

They started with a great chart that shows the amount of documented laughter at the meetings for each year for the first eleven years of the century (the transcripts are released on a five year lag, so the 2011 data is the most recent we have). Here are a few of the results.

As the economy peaked in 2006, so did the laughter. And then when the economy fell off the deep end, so did the amount of laughter at the table where they were trying to save it.

The researchers then took it to the next level and did a regression analysis to see how correlated the unemployment rate was to the amount of laughter. There wasn’t a lot of data, and the correlation was pretty weak. But it’s a fun chart to look at.

Sign up for the show notes to get a link to the article. It’s really easy to do, just go to www.thebanksterpodcast.com. Right on the homepage you’ll see a place to type in your email. And speaking of the website, I have some exciting news about some updates and additions that I’ve been working on. With that, let’s move onto Centralverse Sourced.

Centralverse Sourced

If you were to look at what I was doing with my free time about a year ago there’s a good chance you would have seen me listening to podcasts or reading about Central Banking. I wanted to combine my two pastimes and I couldn’t believe that no one was doing a podcast about Central Banking. You are now listening to the result.

If you were to look at what I do with my free time today, not much has changed. I still listen to lots of podcasts and I still read and research a great deal about Central Banking. On today’s episode I am going to introduce a great new page on The Bankster Podcast website. To be honest the idea for the webpage, just like the podcast, came from a desire to consume this type of information but being unsuccessful in finding anything like it. It started simple, I wanted a list of good books about Central Banking. I went to Google expecting to find at least a dozen good lists from different people, opinions, and organizations.

I was shocked to see that not only was there not a dozen lists, there was not even one good list. Well, I was able to find one but they listed books like, “Reserve Management Trends 2014” and “Directory of Financial Regulations” - I’m not kidding those were the top two books. Pretty awful.

So I’m making my own Centralverse booklist. Or at least that’s where it started.

As I got working on it however, I decided to expand the reach from a simple booklist to any good source of information about the Fed. So far, and that’s a big “so far” because the list will be active and growing, the list includes: books, podcasts, blogs, movies, podcast episodes, email subscriptions, and website. For each entry I list where to find the content, how long it would take to read or listen to it, and finally I’ve given each entry a rating on a scale from 1 to 10. One representing absolutely no background necessary to enjoy and ten representing a very solid background necessary to enjoy.

As I constructed the list I decided upon four rules that I’ll use to determine whether a source should be included or not.

Rule 1 - It has to be something I’d consume in my freetime.

Rule 2 - The depth of the content must not require a graduate degree.

Rule 3 - It has to be bigger than the daily news cycle.

Rule 4 - Central banking plays major, consistent role. (Not just finance/money/econ)

In order to get the full benefit of Centralverse Sourced, you’ll have to go to my website. But for today’s podcast I wanted to give you a sample from each of the categories of sources that are included.

Centralverse Sourced

  • Book
    • The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve
    • Peter Conti-Brown
    • 11 hours
    • 7 scale
  • Podcast
    • Macro Musings
    • David Beckworth
    • 1 hour
    • 7 scale
  • Episode
    • 476: The ‘Ask Your Uncle’ Approach to Economics
    • Planet Money
    • 30 minutes
    • 2 scale
  • Blog
    • Money Matters? Perspectives on Monetary Policy
    • Francesco Papadia
    • 15 minutes
    • 8 scale
  • Email/RSS
    • Board of Governors Announcements
    • Board of Governors
    • 5 minutes
    • 5 scale
  • Movie
    • The Big Short
    • Adam McKay
    • 2 hours
    • 3 scale
  • Website
    • federalreservehistory.gov
    • Federal Reserve Historians
    • 15 minutes
    • 2 scale

That was a brief overview of some of the content listed on Centralverse Sourced. It can be found at www.thebanksterpodcast.com in the “Centralverse Explained” page. Take a look at it, let me know what you think, and next time you’re looking for more information about a topic in central banking, check out Centralverse Sourced. If you have an idea for something that should be added to the list, please send it in!


As always, feel free to drop me a line with comments and questions about the Centralverse or the Bankster Podcast via email (alexander@thebanksterpodcast.com) or Twitter or Facebook.

If you go to my website, www.thebanksterpodcast.com you can sign up to receive the show notes to today’s podcast and every future podcast directly in your inbox. This week I’ll include a link to the research about [Laughter] at the FOMC meetings as well as a direct link to the Centralverse Sourced list.

Leave a review on iTunes and whenever you are asked about Central Banking or Monetary Policy, point feel free to send people a link to Centralverse Sourced and The Bankster Podcast’s website.

Today’s episode was written, edited, and produced by me, Alexander Bagehot. I dedicate this episode to my new teammates - it’s been an exhausting week, but exciting and rewarding. To the rest of you, thanks for listening! I’m Alexander Bagehot, and I’ll see you next time on The Bankster Podcast!








Episode 23 - The Rules, Part I

Episode 23 - The Rules, Part I

Episode 21 - Colorful Books, Part III

Episode 21 - Colorful Books, Part III