In an amazing story by the WSJ Blog - Real-Time Economics, the mysterious world of the Fed-embargoed statement production is revealed. For all those worried about HP or Xerox in the tough global economy (or for that mind any printer-ink/copier provider), fear not, for the Fed will keep their revenues flowing as we can't help but envision the movie 'Office Space' when we read this:
As any veteran market participant knows, the Federal Open Market Committee meeting outcome is announced only roughly around the scheduled time. Why?
Unlike almost all the other stuff that comes out of the government’s economic divisions, the Federal Reserve statement is distributed using decidedly 20th century technology.
First, it makes its way from the Fed to the Treasury Department press room via fax machine around 2 p.m. Then, a reporter makes copies for the entire room–on Wednesday that was a heavier than usual five pages multiplied by 80 copies, or 400 pages.
And, of course, the copier froze. The reporter had to run to another room and use a Treasury machine, spending precious minutes.
Typically, reporters get 10 minutes to read through the statement and write their stories. Because of the copier jam, that was cut to an eight minute countdown.
When time is up, one lucky Treasury Department official counts down the last 10 seconds and rings a ship’s bell, and the headlines fly. That was at about 2:23 p.m. — a little later than usual.
You see the problem here — fax and copy machines are the weak link. For all the times you’ve cursed a reluctant printer, imagine doing that with hot Fed news in hand.
“The mechanics of releasing the statement have been worked out over the years with the collaboration of financial news agencies,” a Fed spokesman said.
In a word - speechless!