#FedValentines is back; roses, rates and job market slack

February 14, 2019

By Ann Saphir

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – In January, the Federal Reserve delivered what investors took as a kind of love letter, a rate-hike pause that sent stock markets soaring. On Valentine’s Day, U.S. central bankers offered tender missives of a different sort.

“Roses are red, Blah blah blah blah,” Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari, one of the Fed’s most ardent doves, tweeted early on Thursday. “Blah blah blah blah blah, There’s still slack in the labor market.”

The Chicago Fed went for a more Shakespearean style, tweeting, “To raise, or not to raise? That is the question.”

Fed banks, economists, and others have delivered annual #Fedvalentines via Twitter most years since 2012, when Ben Bernanke was Fed chair and policy stimulus was the punch line of many a stilted rhyme. At its peak, the hashtag had hundreds of tweets with all kinds of rhyme schemes and musical references.

Unlike what are probably the most famous tweets about the U.S. central bank — barbs from U.S. President Trump, including, on Christmas Eve 2018, “the only problem our economy has is the Fed” — Thursday’s Fed tweets were benign.

The New York Fed issued a series of postcard-style love notes to Long Island, Puerto Rico, and other places across its district.

The St. Louis Fed tweeted about a data series tracking the price of chocolate, and linked to a 2006 take from the Richmond Fed on the economics of marriage.

The Minneapolis Fed took a more policy-oriented approach with its tweets, including, “Love is warm, so is a cup of tea, but we need big banks, to hold lots more equity.”

“We were inspired by past Fed Valentines and thought it would be fun to turn our thoughts on policy into poetry,” Minneapolis Fed spokeswoman Alyssa Augustine said, adding that the tweets were part of an effort to “create a more approachable image for the Fed.”

Augustine’s personal effort read: “Roses are red, it’s long been our canticle, that many big banks, should hold at least 23% capital.

Atlanta Fed did not tweet any love notes, and indeed delivered a downer: it slashed its GDP forecast for the fourth quarter to 1.5 percent, from 2.5 percent a week ago. But it got into the swing, changing its Twitter profile to sport a red heart.

And the Richmond Fed? “Roses are red, violets are blue,” it tweeted, with a photo of its chief Tom Barkin. “Who’s our favorite FOMC policymaker? It’s you!”

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; editing by Diane Craft)

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