Today's Fed statement came out late today and it's all technology's fault, at least that's what Real Time Economics has decided. "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." Like many outdated offices, the Fed still relies on fax machine's and copiers. The back up and mayhem ensues. Real Time Economic's details the haphazard process.
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.
Of course, the process never changes, so we're not quite sure why the Fed hasn't built time in for these types of glitches.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.