Robots Handle Fed Cash, but a Real Person's at the Top
The Federal Reserve Bank for the Ninth District, in Minneapolis.
Business reporters are often told to follow the money, so our edit team decided to do just that when we visited the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis last week. Turns out, you would have to be a robot to actually get your hands on any of that dough.
The high point of our tour was to peer into the several-story “people-less vault,” watching robots zoom around picking up cash and ferrying it here and there. Two of their names, appropriately, are Goldy and Buck-a-Roo.
On a more serious note, hanging in the lobby is an enormous banner with Fed President Neel Kashkari’s new motto: Ending TBTF, also known as Ending Too Big to Fail. Kashkari was appointed earlier this year to head the Ninth District Fed, and immediately made a splash by calling on the federal government to break up big banks like J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup.
Kashkari is “positioning himself as an unlikely regulatory threat to the nation’s biggest banks,” the Wall Street Journal opined. Kashkari is a former investment banker and Treasury Department official in the George W. Bush administration, so he is surprising Fed colleagues with his stand, and not in a good way, in the WSJ’s view.
In Minneapolis, Kashkari grabbed attention in August by meeting with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, to discuss racial and economic disparities in the Twin Cities. At the meeting, he committed to “an ongoing collaboration between the Fed and some of the state’s most outspoken critics of a status quo in which blacks are not enjoying the benefits of economic growth,” according to the Star Tribune. “Some of the racial disparities are a crisis, and we need to treat them like a crisis,” he said at the meeting.
In my opinion, a Federal Reserve president who thinks about and meets with real people as he sets macro economic policy is a great thing. I’m glad at the Minneapolis Fed, at least, it’s not only robots who handle the money.