WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve isn’t known for its brevity. Now, it has no choice.
At least when it comes to the tweets it will issue through its official Twitter channel — (at)federalreserve — which it launched Wednesday.
Like other Twitter users, the Fed will have to limit its tweets to 140 characters. Just listing the official name of its policymaking panel, the Federal Open Market Committee, would consume roughly a quarter of that space.
Please, don’t expect too much excitement from Chairman Ben Bernanke’s august institution. You are not following Lady Gaga or Ashton Kutcher.
Unless, of course, excitement is defined by the following tweet: “Watch a video of Chairman Bernanke explaining the structure of the Federal Reserve.”
Or one that directs you to a Fed report on mobile financial services. Or to a Bernanke speech on community banking.
Those topics were among the Fed’s first four tweets.
So why did 6,000 users sign up to follow the Fed within hours of its announcement? After all, the Fed explained that it will use Twitter to issue press releases, speeches, testimony and its weekly report on the value of the assets it’s bought to support the economy.
The answer is that the Fed commands outsize power to move global financial markets. Investors weigh every word.
And some want to follow the Fed because they distrust its influence over the financial system. They want to keep it under watch. Some may subscribe to Ron Paul’s vision of abolishing the Fed, as evident from the cheekier comments on the Fed’s Twitter feed.
“As Fed comes to Twitter will US debt be limited to 140 zeros?” tweeted Zero Hedge in a comment that was widely re-tweeted.
The Fed’s Twitter account hardly puts it in the front line of early technology adopters within the government. President Barack Obama tweets. So do the campaigns for all four Republican presidential candidates.