|Rube Goldberg's "Self-Operating Napkin"|
As noted here several times in the past
, Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, gives mighty good speech -- full of literary references, song lyrics and the assorted accumulated detritus collected in a bright mind. He was down in Houston last night, talking about something called ... "the economy"? And it's comments like this, way down in the speech titled "The Fed's Response to the Current Economic Challenge (With References to Gershon Bleichröder and Central Bank Independence)
," that keep me interested:
I realize that by straying from our usual business of holding plain vanilla, short-term Treasuries as assets and by shifting policy away from simple titrations of the fed funds rate, we have raised a few eyebrows. One observer has posited that we have migrated from the patron saint of Milton Friedman to enshrining Rube Goldberg.
I rather like Rube Goldberg. I recall fondly the complex devices his protagonist, the felicitously named Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, would deploy to perform different tasks. If you turn to Wikipedia, you will find one of my favorites: the self-operating napkin. As described therein, it was activated when a soup spoon (Exhibit A) is raised to the mouth, pulling on a string (B), thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E), who jumps after it, tilting perch (F), upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H), whose new extra weight pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K), which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allows pendulum (N) with attached napkin (O) to swing back and forth, thereby wiping face.