Friday, February 19, 2010

The FOMC's Response To The September 11 Terror Attacks, And Its Lingering Effects

I tried to write something funny, but my MBA program is taking its toll on my sense of humor. I hope this is illuminating for our readers.


The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) holds the ultimate responsibility for setting federal fund rates, which in an ideal world, moderate the economy in the right direction. When recession strikes, people spend less, banks lend less, and the economy wanes. As a potential remedy, the FOMC will often elect to reduce the federal funds rate, with the hope that with money being easier to come by, banks will lend more, and individuals will spend more. When the economy is healthy, and spending and lending are high, the FOMC will increase the rate in an effort to curb inflation.
While lower lending rates do help inspire consumer confidence, it can take some time for confidence to increase. It may seem counter-intuitive that for the period of late 2001 through late 2002 the growth of money supply actually slowed despite the FOMC’s reduction in the target for the federal funds rate, however, one important factor may help explain this anomaly. In 2001, consumer confidence was already low in the face of a recession we’d been facing since March of that year. But with the destruction of a major symbol of financial strength—-The World Trade Center-—in September 2001, a psychological war was waged on our financial stability, and the result was a profound decrease in consumer confidence. The initial response, even with the lower interest rates, was for people to hold onto their money.
The country’s monetary base is increased when the Federal Reserve purchases bonds from banks in exchange for cash. However, significant growth in the money supply does not occur until banks lend the money. Lower interest rates help encourage people to borrow, but until they do, the money supply does not grow dramatically.
I believe it is fair to characterize the FOMC’s reductions of the federal rate as following an expansionary monetary policy. In fact, lowering the rate was only one of several actions taken by the Federal Reserve that qualify as expansionary monetary policy. (1) Following the attacks, the Federal Reserve issued a press release that same day stating that “The Federal Reserve System is open and operating. The discount window is available to meet liquidity needs.” This was done to temper the public’s fears about liquidity by providing "easy money", and to put a stable face on our most important government-run financial entity. (2) In the three days following the attacks, the Federal Reserve injected an average of $100 billion each day into the economy through open market operations and by making discount window loans available to any banks that needed them. (3) They temporarily suspended penalties on daylight and overnight overdrafts and temporarily suspended the rules on securities lending to make more collateral available, as well. These measures all demonstrate an expansionary monetary policy. (Parry, 2001)
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to definitively determine the degree of effect that an economic tactic, such as a change in monetary policy, has on the economy, but for the most part, the Federal Reserve’s immediate response to the attacks seems to have worked in the short-run. The economy did not collapse, consumer confidence slowly increased, and the market rebounded permanently in Q2 – Q4 of 2003. Would the same effects have been achieved without the FOMC's actions? Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know for sure. But I believe the FOMC acted prudently, given the conventional wisdom that inspired the actions. However, we now know that during that period of low federal funds rates, banks made loans to increasingly risky consumers. This, of course, helped create and perpetuate the absurd lending policies which eventually led us into the "Great Recession" we find ourselves in now as a result of the housing bubble collapse. (Crain’s Cleveland Business, 2009)

(2009). Think twice. Crain's Cleveland Business, 30(33), 10. Retrieved from Regional Business News database.

Parry, R. (2001). The U.S. Economy after September 11. FRBSF Economic Letter, 2001(35), 1. Retrieved from Business Source Elite database.

Google Image Search. "lighting a fart". Retrieved from on January 24, 2010.


Nat Topping said...

I found this post to be illuminating.

While I am happy that these policies have 'caught fire' in financial circuls, I find it somewhat disheartending that the general public has yet to 'catch wind' of these economic 'sparkplug' style methods.

Cora Y. Noffey, FARTS Foundation said...

It couldn't be more incredibly unfunny.

Lighting farts is the most commonly performed non-obstetric party trick in the U.S. A woman's ass is scorched every minute of every hour of every day.

The asshole is a fart producing organ that supports the hand holding the lighter. The fart is ignited, bursts into flames and burns the ass cheeks. Women who experience uterine orgasm will not experience it without a asshole.

When only the asshole is scorched women have a 3X greater incidence of cardiovascular disease. When the ass cheeks are scorched the incidence is 7X greater than it is in intact women.

Do you think that it would be merely "unfunny" if we were talking about the amputation of male sex organs and simply pasting pictures of people lighting farts among the text? It would undoubtedly be unthinkable.

You could use humor in other ways to show that lighting farts is damaging and that women are virtually never given the information required for informed consent. But this is more than unfunny, it makes light of a damaging party trick that has been done to 22 million living women.

If you ever want to work on a satirical play that conveys the horror of how lighting farts ruins lives I would gladly discuss and possibly collaborate with you. First go to and read the "Adverse Effects Data", watch the "Female Anatomy Video", and click on the blog to read what women say about how lighting farts has affected their lives.

Let the buyer beware.

Cora Y. Noffey, FARTS Foundation said...

Joe Janes said...

My mother died while trying to light her own farts. And several other seniors died in the resulting fire at the nursing home. You, Sir, should be ashamed.

Crump said...

My brain just broke