The St. Louis Fed at 100: Audience Q&A
As part of the question-and-answer session with the audience, Wheelock is joined by moderator Martha Perine Beard and by Mary Karr, senior vice president and general counsel and Julie Stackhouse, senior vice president, Banking Supervision and Regulation.
- Part 1: Martha Perine Beard, Introduction and Welcoming Remarks (10:35)
- Part 2: David Wheelock, A Brief History of the Federal Reserve System and How St. Louis Was Chosen as a Reserve Bank Location (28:44)
- Part 3: David Wheelock, The "Great Inflation" Period and the Emergence of the "Maverick" Reserve Bank (19:19)
- Part 4: Audience Q&A (34:26)
Martha Perine Beard: As we go into this section of our program, we would just ask if you will raise your hand if you have a question, and if you would also speak into the microphone closest to you. Just turn on the on button. The reason we’re asking that you use the microphone is because we are videotaping tonight’s program, and we want to make certain that the question and answer session is also a part of that video. So if you would just use the microphone, we would appreciate it. So we’re now open for any questions that you might have. Yes?
Q: Yes. On one chart you mentioned you were comparing the CPI with the M2 chart. So, apparently, M2 is very important on how to judge how much money supply is in the economy? Is M2 a number that is currently being published?
Dave Wheelock: Yes. Yes, M2—in the 1970s, the Fed had a number of measures of the money stock starting from M1 and going to M2, M3, and so forth. And M2 is a measure that incorporates essentially all bank deposits plus coin and currency in circulation. So it’s a semi-broad measure of the money supply that is commonly watched. It was Friedman’s favorite measure, although it was not the favorite of this bank at the time. I should have put up M1, because that was more of the St. Louis number at the time. But yes, it’s still published, and it’s available at FRED as well as other sites.
Q: But does that tie into the quantitative easing also? I mean, we know the Fed’s balance sheet is now over $4 trillion. And it was like $1 trillion, so it’s quite movable.
Dave Wheelock: Right. So quantitative easing is the term that’s been applied to the Fed’s purchases of Treasury securities in the last few years to try to stimulate the economy and bring about faster economic growth and bring down the unemployment rate. When the Fed buys Treasury securities, it adds reserves to the banking system. That doesn’t necessarily transmit into faster growth of M2 or any of those other measures of the money supply. In order for that to occur, banks have to lend, and in so doing, that’s the process by which deposits are created and which would cause the broader measures like M2 to rise. As it turns out, M2 has been growing at a fairly decent rate, I think currently on the order of 5% or 6% per annum, much slower than the total size of the Fed’s balance sheet. But it has been growing at a moderate clip.
Martha Perine Beard: Okay. Yes?
Dave Wheelock: Julie is our banking expert here, so…
Julie Stackhouse: So I think one of the things—and we really didn’t prepare an overview of sort of quantitative easing tonight—but one of the things that’s a bit unique is, as the Federal Reserve purchases bonds and the reserves are put into the system, a fair percentage—and I don’t know what that is currently—I know it was around 85%—have been put back on deposit at the Federal Reserve.
So what I hear on the banking side of it, “Gee, it doesn’t feel like banks are making loans,” and that, of course, ties into loan demand, but it’s certainly not a function of availability of reserves to make loans. It has been a function of available credit. But Dave’s right that not all that money has pushed out into the system. So, you know, obviously, that could happen. But at this point that’s not something we’ve seen.
Martha Perine Beard: Okay. This gentleman in the back.
Q: So some of the economic development efforts here in the St. Louis region have focused around trying to build up this area as a hub for the financial services sector. I’m curious, besides the bragging rights of being home to one of the 12 regional banks, what does having a Reserve Bank here in St. Louis convey in terms of tangible or intangible advantages to that goal of building up St. Louis as a financial services hub?
Dave Wheelock: [Unintelligible 00:04:19] fell onto.
Julie Stackhouse: Well, that’s a really hard question.
Dave Wheelock: It is.
Julie Stackhouse: You know, so one of the things that’s been maybe a little disappointing as we look at St. Louis is, the traditional banking services that you and I think of at headquartered banks, St. Louis has slowly lost those headquarters. In fact, the largest bank headquartered in St. Louis today is less than $10 billion in assets, which is pretty small in banking terms. So, when you look at it that way, we can kind of maybe grimace a little bit. At the same time, there have been organizations that have been involved in financial services that have come into and continue to grow in St. Louis.
So, for example, we have Stifel Nicolaus. We have Scottrade. We have Edward Jones. They’re very, very important in the regional network and also added substantially to the financial services area, or financial services in the industry or in the area. They’re just a little bit different than the traditional banking network. Of course, add to it, we still have a lot of banks in the St. Louis area.
They tend to be smaller, but I think also, you would—one would argue, very, very important to the economies that we have there, since they really cater more to small businesses and the commercial and industrial growth in the area. So, again, it’s a mixed bag. Some of the traditional business and banking has changed and shifted. At the same time, St. Louis has become headquarters to some pretty important players, at least on a regional basis, and by the way, growing players at that.
Martha Perine Beard: Okay. Other questions?
Dave Wheelock: Martha, one over here.
Martha Perine Beard: I’m sorry. Yes, right here?
Q: How does having all the excess reserves in the banking system lead to economic growth? I understand there’s two, three trillion in excess reserves. I forget the number, but it’s really not doing any good to the economy, is it?
Dave Wheelock: Well, it’s a question of what’s the demand for those reserves in the first place. You know, there’s a question of why aren’t banks lending out more of those reserves. And I guess the first answer would be, they are lending to some extent, and lending has picked up, actually, recently. Now the Fed’s objective in quantitative easing is not to increase the reserves of the banking system per se and certainly not to increase the excess reserves held by banks.
But it’s to encourage a general decline in interest rates, to encourage in some sense a reaching for yield, to encourage more spending throughout the economy. And not necessarily strictly through bank lending, but investment in other sorts of debt instruments and so forth to promote, you know, investments, spending, and so forth.
Now a sort of question of those excess reserves, how much should they be increased or decreased? And what difference does it make? The specific dollar amount I don’t think makes that much difference. It’s more the thrust of what policy has been oriented toward. And there’s certainly some debate as to how effective those quantitative easing policies have been in terms of stimulating economic activity. So it’s an open question.
Julie Stackhouse: And I don’t know how many bankers we have in the room. But I’m willing to bet that if you went to any banker and said, “Would you like to make more loans?” the unequivocal answer is, “Absolutely. Just tell me where that demand is.” So, a couple of other things are happening, one of which is that large corporations can go directly to the bond market, don’t even need to go to banks. So you’d be able to access within it. The other is corporate balance sheets are pretty liquid right now. Many corporations, particularly large ones, have vast amounts of cash.
So they could borrow. For what? Is the economy strong enough for the expansion, for the innovation in growth? Where we really see the weakness is small business access to credit. And that’s been an issue for years and years and years. Small businesses typically have the weakest balance sheets, the weakest operating histories. Banks are expected to evaluate the ability to repay. And if the answer is the ability to repay is not there, then presumably, the bank shouldn’t be in that business of making the loan. That’s a different type of credit that typically is of less of a prime quality.
So your question is a very good one, but it’s a very hard one to answer. And I think it’s somewhere between there’s enough money out there, but is the demand for credit, and is the credit standards—are they strong enough that there is that connection and there actually is the ability to grow loans? So the latest data suggests a little bit of loan growth. But, again, it’s still pretty soft, relative to what we’ve seen in years past.
Dave Wheelock: But, certainly, the capacity is there to support much more loan growth.
Julie Stackhouse: The capacity is there.
Dave Wheelock: And that was certainly one of the objectives of the QE policy.
Martha Perine Beard: And in terms of small businesses, unfortunately, they’re the ones who are least qualified for a lot of the loans, but small businesses have really been really important in terms of growing jobs in this country.
Julie Stackhouse: Yeah. And just a quick word on small businesses. We spent probably two years trying to understand the dynamics in small business access to credit, and particularly start-up business, non-tech start-up businesses, the ones that don’t maybe fit so well in the venture capital space. It’s always been a challenge.
But, for many years, credit cards and home equity loans, plus family and friends, were sources of financing. Of course, when the housing market and housing prices started to decline, then even the home equity loan became a stretch for many individuals wanting to start small businesses. So we really were, I think, in a very, very difficult situation with both balance sheets and access through traditional sources of credit.
Martha Perine Beard: Okay. Other questions? I’m trying to make sure I’m fair to all sides. Over here. Yes?
Q: I was interested in—you were talking about St. Louis’s role as the maverick bank in the ’70s and whether there’s been any bank that’s sort of taken that type of role since then. So throughout the Greenspan administration and then also through quantitative easing and all that, were there—I mean, as a member of the public, all I ever hear is Alan Greenspan or whoever’s up there—has there been a lot of go back and forth between the banks arguing what to do? Or has it been more centralized?
Dave Wheelock: The answer is yes, they’ve all become mavericks. (Laughter.) Indeed, you see a lot more policy discussion, if you will, by individual members of the Federal Open Market Committee, which is the monetary policymaking arm that consists of the Board of Governors plus the presidents of the Reserve Banks.
And many of the Reserve Bank presidents have been particularly outspoken about policy. Particularly during the more controversial period we’ve experienced in the last three or four years with the policies like the large-scale asset purchases and other programs, you’ve had real debates and sometimes disagreement among members of the Committee. So I would say, in some sense, the maverick stands out less today, because they’re all out there talking and, you know, doing their independent analysis and putting their positions forward.
So that’s perhaps why, you know, you don’t hear of a single counterbalance to the Alan Greenspan or the Ben Bernanke or whatever. And, of course, the Chairman of the Board of Governors will always be the system’s leader in terms of making presentations to Congress, and, you know, his or her voice is the one that the public will naturally look to, because they are the system leader. But there are others out there.
Mary Karr: If you want to know—
Martha Perine Beard: But one point I would make is, one of the things I have learned from our media people is a new term I didn’t really know three or four years ago, and it’s called share of voice. And when you look at the financial media in terms of persons who really are out there in the public eye, second only to the Chairman is the President of this Federal Reserve Bank, Jim Bullard. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to be with us tonight, because he’s at a system meeting. But we may not have a title of maverick, but in terms of market movers, the President of this Reserve Bank is held very high in terms of that sort of measurement.
Mary Karr: I think the other point I would make is, on our public website, we have a link that will take you to the speeches of different Reserve Bank presidents and governors. It’s under a topic called FOMC Speak. So it’s an easy way to see—you know, for example, Richard Fisher in Dallas has very different views on monetary policy, for example, from, say, Jim Bullard right now. One of the ways you can find that is by going and looking at speeches they have given. And so that’s a good resource if you’re interested in seeing, you know, kind of where the differences of opinion are today in the Fed.
Martha Perine Beard: And by all means, when you hear the results of the FOMC meetings in terms of how presidents vote, that’s also a means of knowing those who disagree. Okay. Other questions?
Q: Yes. In the ’70s Paul Volcker had to raise interest rates to almost 20% or there to stop inflation. And that was successful, but back then our national debt was only a half-trillion dollars. Now our national debt is over seventeen-and-a-half trillion dollars. If inflation starts to creep up to three, four percent, I can’t see the Fed raising interest rates to even five percent on a seventeen-and-a-half trillion-dollar debt. That means the national interest expense would be almost a trillion dollars per year. Is that something that’s in the background that wasn’t in the background in the ’70s that could cause a big problem?
Dave Wheelock: I would say it’s definitely a concern. You know, we as economists argue that there are benefits for having an independent Central Bank. And by that we mean one that’s independent of the Treasury. And for a considerable period of the Fed’s history, the Fed was under the thumb of the Treasury. Essentially, from the mid-1930s through World War II and up until 1941, we did the Treasury’s bidding, which was to keep interest rates low. And, of course, during World War II there were legitimate reasons why we wanted to facilitate low interest rates for the war effort.
The Fed won its independence with an agreement with the Treasury in 1951 and took a step away from being under direct control of the Treasury. But, clearly, since then, at various times the Fed has taken considerable pressure from the administration and from members of Congress, essentially for lower interest rates to help finance government spending. And, as you point out, the looming fiscal imbalances are worrisome. And, certainly, history and the history of other countries, you know, urges some caution, you know, or some concern about that.
Martha Perine Beard: Okay. I think I saw a hand in the back over here. On the left side, yes.
Q: When the FOMC issues forward guidance for changes in interest rates, what basis or data is used to, I guess, determine the appropriate timeframe within, I guess, published rates of inflation that have been low and more or less stagnant for some time?
Dave Wheelock: Right. So forward guidance is—for several years the Federal Open Market Committee at the conclusion of its meetings has issued a statement. And in recent years they’ve included often an indication of when they expect that the policy interest rate—currently the Federal Funds Rate—will be raised in terms of getting the interest rate above zero. And that’s been termed forward guidance.
And so the argument is that to provide that information is to provide our judgment based on what we see in the forecasts for inflation and for unemployment and other measures of economic activity. That’s the Committee’s collective judgment about when interest rates are likely to go up. So, in terms of being specific about the forward guidance, they’re looking at everything in some sense in terms of an economic forecast to try to assess when the Committee’s collective judgment, you know, will take place in terms of raising interest rates.
But there is not universal agreement of when that’s going to occur among the members of the Committee. And they each are free to discuss publicly their own projections for that, as well as the Committee as a whole does release quarterly a collection of the individual members when they expect the policy rate will start going up. So I’m not sure if that answered your question, but that’s kind of the process there and what the thinking is behind it.
Martha Perine Beard: I know there are a couple of other questions over there. Are there any over here? I want to be fair. Okay, right here. Yes? Hm-hmm.
Q: Early on, you said, you know, 100 years ago there was a conflict between Wall Street and Main Street. It looks like there’s still conflict between the two. Wall Street’s doing quite well where I sit. Any chance that will change in the near future or anytime in the future?
Dave Wheelock: That’s yours, Mary. (Laughter.)
Mary Karr: You know, I think, as a student of history, one of the things that is interesting to me is to go back and look at the structure of the Fed and why it was created and to think about the tensions that existed and that still exist. You’re right. Wall Street has done quite well, Main Street not so well yet in a lot of ways. And whether that’s likely to change or not in the near future, I don’t know.
You know, one of the nice things I think about the Fed and about having an independent Central Bank is, you know, you’ve got a diversity of views coming to the FOMC table. We have directors from this region who represent this region and help Jim think about what’s going on in the economy, both regionally and nationally, and to some extent internationally.
And so, you know, Wall Street is an important part of the American economy. But the Fed is really independent of Wall Street in a lot of ways. And certainly out here in the region Reserve Banks, we are very independent of Wall Street. I don’t know if that answers your question.
Julie Stackhouse: Maybe if I could add—I never know if this is on or off—one of the things that we—you may have seen some publications come out of the St. Louis Fed that has been looking at the issue of recovery from the recession and who has recovered and who hasn’t. And it kind of gets at your Wall Street and Main Street point, which is those that have had money to be able to invest in the stock market have recovered quite nicely and frankly are now ahead of where they were prior to the financial crisis.
Those that have largely invested in their home, haven’t had the resources or the incentive to invest in the stock market, haven’t recovered very well at all. And that’s going to affect, you know, at least half if not close to three-quarters of the population. That’s a real concern. It’s a concern for a bank, and it’s a concern for the economy. The question is, what do you do about it?
So it’s an area where we’re actually trying to say, well, is there better data that we can begin to delve into this a little bit more? Amazingly, you would think that information on households would be easy to come by. It’s not. It’s very hard to get at that micro-data. But I think it’s a fair concern that you’re raising, and I think it is a fair concern of the Federal Reserve’s to be able to understand what’s happening to that typical American consumer.
Martha Perine Beard: Okay. Other questions? Kind of go over here. The person closest to the videotape or over that, yes. And followed by the lady sitting on the end of your row. Okay.
Q: Whether it ties into that or not, and one of the things—and President Bullard made a comment recently in one of his [unintelligible 00:20:28] that there was a, you know, really amazing and critical correlation between monetary policy and analytics. But I hear so much less about fiscal policy, and I wondered, you know, could one of you weigh in on that? Why do we—is it the political pressure on the fiscal policy? Or why is it we spend so much time on monetary policy and not fiscal?
Dave Wheelock: Well, going back to this bank, the paper by Andersen and Jordan that I mentioned did a horserace between monetary policy and fiscal policy, and monetary policy won in terms of being a key driver of economic activity, whereas fiscal policy was not. Now, modern academics would criticize the research methods that were used in that paper. It was nearly 50 years ago, after all, when they did that research.
But fiscal policy is much less talked about, in part because there are so many difficulties with defining what it is in the first place. And, you know, it’s—to implement fiscal policy in a broad sense requires the agreement between the two houses of Congress and the administration and various taxing and spending policies. And it’s certainly not the case that there is not economic research about the implications for the economy of various tax policies or spending policies.
But, in terms of a simple textbook analysis of fiscal policy, simply looking at the size of the deficit, you know, that is rather passé, I guess, in terms of both policy circles as well as the academic study, just because there’s not much evidence that a given-sized deficit has much implication for the level of—or the growth rate of economic activity over time, whereas individual tax policy, say, may have more differences. But, you know, we’re the Fed, so we deal with monetary policy. So…
Martha Perine Beard: Okay. The lady sitting on that same row.
Q: I believe that the income tax act was also passed in 1913. Is there any relationship? (Laughter.)
Dave Wheelock: I have seen a connection made between that. And, for the life of me, I can’t remember exactly what the connection is now, thinking about it. But I’ve seen that connection made. And, certainly, the political forces that helped bring about the Federal Reserve Act were the same political forces in some sense that brought about the income tax amendment and the need for government revenue and so forth. But I—without doing some study, I can’t tell you what the intellectual connection is, but…
Martha Perine Beard: Okay. Other questions? I want to try to get in as many as we can before the time ends. Yes sir?
Q: Hi. This question is for Julie, preferably. Given the current environment of low and squeezed margins, low return on average assets, and continued announcements daily of small, you know, community banks being acquired by their larger brethren, can you just kind of speak on the future of the community banking model in your opinion?
Julie Stackhouse: Would you like me to pull up my slide deck real quick? (Laughter.) So we’re actually spending a lot of time on the issue, because we—you talked about 25,000 banks at one point. It still may feel like a lot, but that number is down to about 6,700 and continues to drop. So maybe in St. Louis that doesn’t sound scary, but you get into the rural communities, and that really does. You know, the bank is who does the [goal polls posts 00:24:08] for the football team. I mean, there’s a very, very close correlation, so we hear a lot of worry and concern.
So the question about, you know, all the money out there and banks not lending, I’m very serious when I say banks would love to lend, because banks make money by lending. So we have hundreds of banks that are right now really struggling to make enough money to literally pay their bills as well as deal with what is a growing regulatory cost. We get a lot of new laws and regulations after the financial crisis, and those have to be absorbed by the banking organizations.
So we see a couple of things happening. Number one, we see some new risk-taking in banking. We actually see banks stretch to make loans in ways that we’re just a little uncomfortable with sometimes, because it’s not so clear that some decisions being made today are going to be as good when the interest rate environment changes. We see some banks getting into some activities that they may not be well-equipped to manage. And in fact, we’re already seeing some banks stumble and fall. So we have a lot to worry about.
But the inevitable question is, will that cause the industry to consolidate even more quickly than it has been consolidating? And there, the news is mixed. If you go to the data, which is typically published through the BNA service, you’re going to see that the pace of consolidation right now has just only returned to pre-crisis levels. So pre-crisis we had roughly 150 to 200 mergers and acquisitions a year. It dropped dramatically during the crisis, and we’re now back up to where we were. What’s different is we don’t have new bank formations. Yeah.
So that’s what’s causing the number of charters to go down. Suffice it to say you can take that 100 and you can bump it down 25% and you can bump it up 25%. And then analysis suggests we’re still going to have a lot of banks 10 years from now. But it’s not going to be 6,700 banks. It’s going to be something less. Last month we talked about virtual currencies. We talked about Bitcoin and those sorts of things. And that’s a whole nother array of services that are putting pressure on the conditional financial services industry.
If there are sectors, shadow sectors, that can be faster, cheaper, and maybe a little bit more accessible, then do you need the traditional banking model? So in any event, we’re putting some thought leadership into that by encouraging academic study. And you’ll see in the September timeframe we’ll be sponsoring a conference on that very topic.
Martha Perine Beard: We have time for one last question. Right here. Okay, everybody is pointing toward that direction. [To then 00:26:43], who am I pointing to?
Q: Addressing that point where you’re talking about fewer and fewer megabanks concentrated in smaller and smaller areas, or regions, if we’re thinking about the Fed system, does that dilute the role or change the role for the St. Louis Fed? Does that mean that some of these regions are now dictating what’s happening and we’re having less and less say? Is there a need for all these regions to exist? Is the system needing a change?
Dave Wheelock: That’s yours, Mary. (Laughter.)
Martha Perine Beard: Mary. I was about to intercept Mary’s question.
Mary Karr: Well, first of all, change would take action by Congress. To reduce or change the number of Reserve Banks, basically, one would have—Congress would have to decide to reopen the Federal Reserve Act and then—and legislate. Who knows what priority they would put on that? You know, what’s happened in the Federal Reserve System, particularly, I would say in the last 30 years, is that the Reserve Banks have gone through a tremendous amount of change.
Some of it was caused by changes in technology. I came to this bank in 1991 and, you know, there weren’t computers on every desk. There wasn’t e-mail. You know, think back to those days. We didn’t have cell phones. You know, all kinds of things. And the technology has changed the nature of banking, and it’s changed the nature of Federal Reserve Banks. So I think that’s one change. And what’s happened in the Reserve system is kind of the same thing that’s happened elsewhere in the world. The individual Reserve Banks have become more specialized.
So, say, in the 1980s, all Reserve Banks did basically the same things. You know, we all processed checks. We all processed cash. You know, we all ran wire transfer and Fed wire operations locally. We all had our Research Departments. We all had our Banking Supervision. Those two things have changed less. But on the business side of the Fed, the payment side of the Fed, we’ve worked really hard over the last 20 years or so, 30 years or so, first with technology.
When I came to the Fed, we were just beginning to look at consolidating our support for IT infrastructure throughout the Federal Reserve systems so that the 12 banks didn’t all do it. Same things happened with Check and with Payments. So we have specialized. And we have become more efficient, I think, in that regard, because we have specialized. We’ve created centers of excellence. So we’re not all trying to be all things to all districts and all banks in the nation, as opposed to specializing, both internally and externally. What that’s done is permitted Reserve Banks to capitalize on things that they’re really good at.
So in this district we do a lot of work—it may surprise you to find out—for the United States Treasury. And we do that because, A, we can do a good job. We live in a relatively low-cost city. So it’s a lot cheaper to do that kind of work here in St. Louis or, say, in Kansas City than it would be to do it in Boston or New York City. So we’re trying to take advantage of those things. So what will happen? I don’t know. It depends on what Congress thinks. But in the meantime, we’ve been reinventing ourselves.
Dave Wheelock: And I would add to that, when you think back 100 years ago to when the Federal Reserve was established, the local business lines and the advantages of the location played off of how good our railroad connections were and where the banks were located that we served by handling their paper checks and providing them with cash and coin services. Over time, as Mary was saying that the technologies evolved, and the specific region’s benefits of having a Federal Reserve bank have changed over time.
But the overall structure remains one that is viable and promotes or continues to have benefits, through thought leadership programs. I think it’s certainly a benefit to have bank examiners who are located here around the banks that they examine and, you know, live in the community. We still receive considerable input from the business leaders and the labor leaders and other members of the community providing us input and intelligence about how the regional economy is doing. That gets used in monetary policy work.
And we still have the benefit in terms of the competition of ideas, the diversity of views. And so I think, you know, if they were redesigning the system today, they probably wouldn’t put all of the Reserve Banks or all but two east of the Mississippi River. They’d be more, you know, uniformly dispersed around the country. But there’s still benefit from the regional system, regardless of where those banks happen to be located.
Julie Stackhouse: And if I might just add to this—the maverick spirit to bring it back home for you. So I told you earlier we don’t have large banks headquartered here. But we’ve said that doesn’t mean we can’t oversee and guide the training for those banking examiners of large banks. And so that’s the maverick spirit that we really encourage here.
And in the case of St. Louis, we built up the resources to service that guide for Federal Reserve examiner training, which means about 50 jobs here in St. Louis, really good jobs here in St. Louis. And I think that’s what keeps the Federal Reserve System alive and thriving, even though you might argue the structure still looks a little bit dated on paper.
Mary Karr: You know, clearly, clearly, I think if we drew the map today, it would look different. Okay? Is 12 the right number? Who knows? Would it be—you know, would the locations be different? The problem right now is that that would take an act of Congress. I personally think this—well, and we all know what the chances of anything like that happening are. (Laughter.) But I think the other point I would make is that having the independence of views from around the country is as important today and was as important during the financial crisis as it was back in 1916.
And so my fear always is that, you know, somebody in the interest of streamlining would say, well, let’s just have—you know, let’s have two. You know, let’s have one in New York and one in San Francisco. Or let’s just have Washington and New York. And it undercuts the whole Federal concept of the Central Bank in this country.
And we’re not a democratic institution, but we live in a democracy. And I think Dave started his remarks by saying, you know, to some extent, we were modeled on that sort of Federal model. And so this is a way of us staying connected, of us as part of the nation’s Central Bank staying connected with constituents around the country that I worry we would lose. So the map might look different, but I think the concept is still very sound.
Martha Perine Beard: You know, moderating is tough when they get wound up. And they’re wound up. Would you join me, please, in giving a warm round of applause for Julie, Dave, and Mary? (Applause.)