At its meeting today, the Federal Open Market Committee is expected to leave the federal funds rate at 5.25 percent. That's good news if you've got an adjustable rate mortgage, home equity line of credit or are carrying a balance on your credit cards.
But it also means that Fed Watchers will have to dig a little deeper to get an idea of what the Committee really thinks about the state of our economy.
Since the numbers probably won't change, economists will have to pay extra attention to the words, i.e., the Committee's statement, which will accompany the rate announcement. When the full minutes are released in a couple weeks, the inspection will resume in earnest.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose every utterance has been parsed since he took over in February, probably had no idea that his early interest in the preciseness of words would come in handy. In addition to winning the South Carolina state spelling bee when he was 11, as a high-schooler he created a "Hippie Dictionary."
Bloomberg columnist Caroline Baum provides a sampling of some of young Ben's entries, including:
- Drag -- a down trip
- Hang-up -- a neurosis or fetish
- Square -- someone who stays home New Year's Eve to hear Guy Lombardo play "Auld Lang Syne"
Baum also suggests updated definitions to reflect the older Bernanke's FOMC position:
- Drag -- bumping into CNBC's Maria Bartiromo at the White House Correspondent's dinner and answering a set-up question.
- Hang up -- recommended policy for dealing with the press following L'affaire Bartiromo.
- Square -- apt description for a man who spends his time divining the correct level for overnight interest rates (or defining hippie words while his contemporaries were out living hippie lifestyles).
Whoa, Caroline! That last one is a bit harsh, regardless of what dictionary you use.
Look it up: For the official word on the FOMC, spend some time at the Committee's official Web page.
You can find more '60s slang here.
And so that you can converse with today's kids, check out the Urban Dictionary.