Friday, the federal government released transcripts of its 14 conference calls and meetings during 2008's looming economic meltdown. The transcripts offer a unique look into the minds of the economic leaders as they came to grips over how to proceed to deflect a depression rivaling the Great Depression, proving that sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.
News outlets are buzzing around this story from various angles. The "Big Story" over at the Associated Press tells of the Feds "grappling" with the crisis saying, "the transcripts show the Fed struggling at times to grasp the speed and magnitude of the crisis." The AP also sensed a shift in tone in the latter meetings showing then Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke excusing Federal Governor Frederic Mishkin for missing an emergency conference call while "on the slopes…in Idaho somewhere."
Humor was a top priority for the Feds who used the technique as a means to "keep it light" during such a heavy time. Business Insider picked out from the transcripts Dallas Federal President Richard Fisher invoking a Woody Allen reference:
If I remember correctly, he had a wonderful quip — that he cheated on his metaphysics exam by looking into another boy’s soul. [Laughter] Basically, what we are doing at this time of transition is almost cheating on the data by looking at the anecdotal evidence.
They also point out Fisher's gross "misdiagnosis" of the real health of the economy as he turned a blind eye:
The point is that, while there are tales of woe, none of the 30 CEOs to whom I talked, outside of housing, see the economy trending into negative territory.
As The Wall Street Journal was busy combing through the transcripts, they counted 208 instances of "laughter" from the Feds during these meetings. One example comes from economist Frederic Mishkin who lightened the mood with a little nod to Monty Python's "Life of Brian" saying he could relate to that movie as he felt "strapped a bit to the cross" which reminded him of the scene of the men hanging on the crosses singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."
For a further decent into the mindset of the federal government amid a crisis, read the full transcripts here.