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Great Moments in Humphrey-Hawkins History


The Humphrey-Hawkins testimony has a long, storied history in American politics and finance.


The twice-annual Humphrey-Hawkins testimony by the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman was created many years ago by the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act in response to rising unemployment and inflation. Senator Hubert Humphrey and Representative Augustus Hawkins (hence, Humphrey-Hawkins) created the act specifically to address four primary policy goals:

  • Full employment
  • Production growth
  • Price stability
  • Budget balancing and trade balancing

The Humphrey-Hawkins testimony has a long, storied history in American politics and finance. Because it is so closely watched for clues to Federal Reserve monetary policy, events surrounding the testimony have produced many great moments. Below, Minyanville takes a look at some less well-known great moments in Federal Reserve Chairman testimony history.

  • 1778: Federal Reserve Chairman Lord George Lattimore-Cooper Crandall praises colonial "break from the realm." Lord Crandall suggests to Continental Militia General Thomas Higgenbotham that the militia guard the new federal reserves. General Hiigenbotham agrees, then shoots Lord Crandall and orders militia to steal the reserves.

  • 1790: Federal Reserve Chairman Artimus Pyle announces 25 fur pelt-per-capita hike in short-term Native American interest rates. Astor Fur Market declines 20% in a single session... a bunch of other historical stuff happened and then, hey, why not build a casino on the reservation?

  • 1821: Federal Reserve Chairman General Rutherford Mills suggests unfair U.S. trade surplus with France may pressure the coinage, or possibly even result in civil unrest. General Mills unable to complete his testimony after being killed by stray bullet when Humphrey-Hawkins testimony was interrupted by civil unrest.

  • 1919: Federal Reserve Chairman "Wild" Bill "Whiskey" Rutledge warns of runaway whiskey inflation, possible whiskey shortage and excessively high government taxes on whiskey; drinks bottle of whiskey during testimony, then accidentally shoots and kills Senate Banking Committee chairman Edward Longfellow while trying to remove his pants.

  • 1920: Federal Reserve Chairman Daniel "Sober Dan" Temperance suggests Congress act to "prohibit the liquor" which is causing "irrational exuberance " in the share markets. "We don't want another "Wild Bill Whiskey" Rutledge incident on our hands," Temperance warns. Wild Bill Whiskey Rutledge storms testimony proceedings and chases Sober Dan Temperance around Senate chambers with a pistol.

  • 1928: Federal Reserve Chairman Jack "Legs" Diamond co-hosts Humphrey Hawkins Party with Owney Madden at New York's Cotton Club. "Legs" declares, "All possible obstacles to financial prosperity are dead!", then symbolically "crushes bear market pessimism" by dumping 14,000 gallons of vintage champagne in a vat holding 8,400 pounds of Russian caviar and bathes in it.

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