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Research Finds Link Between Inflation and Laughter In Federal Reserve Meetings 144

schliz writes "A one percentage point increase in an inflation forecast brings about a 75% rise in laughter, according to an American University PhD student, who studied transcripts of the Federal Open Market Committee at the Federal Reserve. Laughter usually comes in response to witticisms during a meeting at the time of the inflation forecast, and has been shown to be a mechanism for coping with the stress of a perceived threat."
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Research Finds Link Between Inflation and Laughter In Federal Reserve Meetings

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  • So? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Those with their boots on the necks of general public usually think their power over the masses is funny.

    They're not laughing with us, they're laughing at us. It helps cover the sounds of the rest of us gasping for air.

    • by x2A ( 858210 )

      The powerful don't want to see inflation, it makes their money worth less.,

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:11AM (#44923645)

        The powerful don't want to see inflation, it makes their money worth less.,

        Inflation makes everybody's money worth less. I visited Brazil during hyperinflation. It wasn't just the "powerful" suffering.

        BTW, "the powerful" did fine in the US during the 1970s .../p?

        • There is good inflation and bad inflation.
          Good inflation is when the cost of goods and services rise, to match in increase of income of the consumers.
          Bad inflation is when the cost of goods and services rise, at a faster rate then the increase of income of the customers.

          We are having low inflation now... However income has dropped, so it is still bad, and it is worse then when we have high inflation and a strong growth of income.

          • Re:So? (Score:4, Funny)

            by Mike ( 1172 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:52AM (#44923945) Homepage

            There is good inflation and bad inflation. ...
            We are having low inflation now...

            Spoken like a true Keynesian.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              The world is round, not flat...

              Spoken like a true Copernican.

              You realize that's not a counter-argument, right?

            • Or any other type of economics that acknowledges the basic reality of the way economies and peoples' lives interact. Behavioralism makes no denial of this premise either. If your economic system requires you to specifically ignore one way things can turn out to be valid, that isn't a testament to its quality.

          • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

            Good inflation is when the cost of goods and services rise, to match in increase of income of the consumers. Bad inflation is when the cost of goods and services rise, at a faster rate then the increase of income of the customers.

            In an economic sense, "inflation" is actually only the first, because inflation is where there is a general rise in the cost of all goods and services. But income to a consumer is a cost of good or service to an employer (labor cost). If more people realized that "inflation" doesn't mean that a gallon of milk costs more, it means that you will see a nominal rise in your paycheck, it wouldn't be such a boogeyman.

            The source of the confusion was from the 1970's, when you had inflation combined with an oil su

            • If more people realized that "inflation" doesn't mean that a gallon of milk costs more, it means that you will see a nominal rise in your paycheck, it wouldn't be such a boogeyman.

              It means both. However, whether you're talking about inflation or deflation, the change in your paycheck always trails the effect on the price of consumer goods, so a gallon of milk still costs more relative to your current paycheck. Under deflation it's just the opposite: sure, your paycheck is decreasing, but your expenses are decreasing even faster.

              This is not to say that we'd be better off with forced deflation rather than inflation. As with any other commodity, the price of money is best left to the ma

              • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

                No, you are still misunderstanding. Gross Domestic Income is equal to Gross Domestic Product by construction (definition). While the change in *my* paycheck may lag or lead changes in GDP, the aggregate income of everybody must exactly match those changes at the exact same time, by definition.

                What you may be thinking of is that since the increases that I see in my paycheck are nominal, there is some portion of that change attributable to real growth in income and some portion attributable to inflation. B

                • While the change in *my* paycheck may lag or lead changes in GDP, the aggregate income of everybody must exactly match those changes at the exact same time, by definition. ... If there is overall inflation, and I am not seeing an increase in my paycheck, then somebody else must be seeing that increase in their paycheck/wages/income, or else GDP != GDI which is not possible.

                  Indeed. I'm not disputing that. However, the distribution is not random; it favors those close to the source of the inflation. The people responsible for the inflation get a "raise" first. Assuming you're not among the politically well-connected, their spending has already bid up prices by the time the extra money makes it to your paycheck. The effect of supply-side inflation is to transfer wealth from the commoners to the political class.

                  • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

                    However, the distribution is not random; it favors those close to the source of the inflation.

                    To the contrary, that happens only if the the change in prices is real, not inflationary. Let's say that the central bank decides to inflate by buying huge amounts of financial assets from banks. Assuming that the supply of those financial assets is large enough such that the central bank's purchases do not have an impact on the price of those securities (a good assumption for huge fixed income markets such as Treasuries and MBSs, not a good assumption for smaller markets like individual stocks, but I'll ad

              • by stymy ( 1223496 )
                I hope you realize that until the Fed was created, the US underwent a series of brutal recessions and crashes. The problem is that whatever happens, inflation, deflation, no change or whatever, it needs to be predictable so that companies, banks, and consumers can easily make long-term plans. Volatility makes such planning almost impossible, so as a result everyone is more conservative, no one spends money, and growth slows or you might even end up with a recession. So proper guidance is necessary to provid
                • You could make the same argument in favor of "stabilizing" the price of any other commodity, and it would be just as wrong there is it is concerning price controls on money. Life is change. Attempts to guarantee "stability" do nothing but ensure malinvestment as people respond to corrupted price signals, making things that much worse when the controls are inevitably discovered to be untenable.

                  There were recessions and crashes before the Federal Reserve, but they were the result of external shocks (or politi

          • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @12:18PM (#44924883)
            Good inflation is when you print money and spend it first. Bad inflation is when other people print money and devalue the dollars in your pocket.
        • On balance, inflation helps borrows and penalizes lenders.

          For the conspiracy minded the Fed is controlled by the banks. In theory they would love deflation – except for the economic recessions that tend to follow.

          For historical context read about the Cross of Gold speech – or read the Wizard of OZ: []

          • It almost sounds like you had the same high school history teacher as I did, because that was definitely a lesson I had. And not to worry, populist low-information economics has somehow turned pro-gold standard in the past decade or so, because they imagine that somehow massive deflation would be a good thing in a society where the net debt burden has increased to unprecedented levels.

            I don't get it, but magical economic panaceas are always nice to promise.

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @12:23PM (#44924953)
            That is incorrect. Inflation is great for those who get to print it. The Fed and thus the banks are the ones that get first access to that money, and get to charge interest on it, interest that can mathematically be paid from no source except default. Default destroys resources. This monetary system thus forces destruction of resources through malinvestment.

            Money is not wealth. Money is a CLAIM on wealth, which is composed of real things. Printing money does not create more wealth--it just dilutes it, and redistributes it to those who get first access to the printed money.
            • How is this being moded as insightful? The biggest risk that bankers face is inflation. It’s basic banking 101.

              Read up on “Real Interest Rates” because that drives the “Spread” that determines their profitability. Raising inflation raises costs faster than revenue – see “Duration”. We know that inflation is a risk – otherwise the “Yield Curve” would be downward sloping.

              When inflation rates raise interest rates rise. When interest rates rise

              • by tmosley ( 996283 )
                I see you cannot into math. You see, there is this thing called a denominator. When the denominator gets larger, the answer gets smaller. Arbitraging the difference between systems with different denominators is what I am talking about here. If you can't understand that, then you probably have a PhD in economics from Princeton, and a masters in witch medicine from Monkey Money University (I hear it's a prestigious school).

                I bet you are a firm believer in homeopathic medicine too. It is the same as t
                • Oh – now I get what you are trying to say. Yes, “They” do get the free money.

                  By the way – who is “Thay”? Part of the reason why I was confused is that in the US and most G20 countries “They” are not banks or the government.

            • How does default destroy resources? Default destroys debt. Assets remain.

              • It depends on which side of the transaction – one person’s debt is another person’s asset.

                And by default we are not meaning “going into bankruptcy and restarting the debt.” Financial Repression would be a better word.

                Let’s say I invest, save, or lend out $100. Inflation jumps unexpected by 100%. I still have $100 but it’s value is ½. If that is the case why should I bother to invest, save, or plan for the long term? Generally they don’t. Investment tends

                • It depends on if wages keep up with inflation. If not, then employers are benefiting, until workers get fed up and quit.

          • We have designed inflation for two reasons:

            1) Because we have a progression (in both meanings of the word) it is a stealth way for politicians to raise taxes.

            2) It is a form of economic warfare being used against the Middle East and Chinese trade deficits. We are paying them in dollars that are worth less and less.
            • We have had inflation long before either of those 2 reasons. The Fed choses to pursue a low inflation policy because
              1. It is theoretically impossible and in reality undesirable (see the history of price controls) to have zero inflation and
              2. Hyperinflation and deflation both tend to destroy the real economy.
              Other countries that try to use inflation to get rid of their debts tend to end up in worse shape. Governments win the first round but then investors wise up and win all other rounds.

              Now, I think you are

              • 2. Hyperinflation and deflation both tend to destroy the real economy.

                The second part of this is a myth. The example always used here, the Great Depression, is basically the only known case where deflation was correlated with a recession or depression. This is because it was not simply a decrease in prices, but a gigantic credit contraction as people realized that most of the money they thought they had didn't really exist. The credit contraction—an inevitable result of fractional-reserve banking practices taken to extremes—caused both the depression and the defla

                • Well, we have basically had inflation and fiat money since the Great Depression so not a whole lot of time series to test. Well, there is also the panics of 1819, 1837,1857, 1907 and the recession of 1882. Just in the US. I can pull out more examples if you want to go globally - Tulip Bubble, South Sea Bubble, Japan since the 1990s, etc.

                  I would recommend Milton Friedman’s Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960. It’s a good read. The US economy was growing around 5% a year while the m

        • You need to look at the difference between wage inflation and cost of living inflation. The 1970s external oil price shocks created a cost of living spike. But nowadays the conservatives controlling the economy are worried about wage inflation for some deeply mysterious reason, despite the fact that the wages for the majority of people have been in decline. (Cost of living hasn't increased as a direct effect of this, because people literally can't afford to pay more.)

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Except that cost of living has continued to increase, though you wouldn't know that looking at the official numbers because the government rules out everything that gets more expensive as "too volatile" to include in the index, so the government's official cost of living numbers excludes everything that gets more expensive.

          • I would like to know your source. I don’t know of any conservative that is concerned today about wage inflation – or anybody for that matter. Wage inflation is going nowhere until unemployment and underemployment go down. Any rise in wages will result will be counteracted by this huge underutilized supply.

            Now if you want to argue that conservatives are against a minimum wage (or a rise in it) – that would be true – but that is something different then wage inflation.

        • Yeah, but if you are in debt, that's a good thing.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Wrong! The powerful want inflation because it widens the disparity of wealth. The rich can weather the storm, the poor can't. So the purchasing power of the rich is even greater regardless of the monetary worth of the dollar.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

        by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:24AM (#44923733)

        The powerful are fine with inflation. They hold a wide range of assets, some of which will be inflation proof.

        While their net wealth might go down in a time of high inflation, it will go down more slowly than the vast majority of people and the powerful's income is likely to be somewhat inflation proof allowing them to buy up yet more assets as people are forced to sell the few things they own that are inflation proof in order to raise funds for day to day living.

        • This runs totally counter to reality.

          The rich have a lot of monetary assets. For example, money in the bank, investment vehicles, etc etc. Their wealth goes down *faster* than the majority of people. Unless they leave the country, of course.

          The poor have less monetary wealth - indeed, most of their monetary stuff are *debts*. For example, mortgages. Under inflation, the amount you owe under your mortgage stays fixed nominally, while the price of your house increases. Thus you are better off. Under inflation

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday September 23, 2013 @11:57AM (#44924573)

            Rofl. Yeah, money in the bank. Julius Baer, Switzerland, in several european currencies. Tokyo, Japan, in several asian currencies. OK how about financial instruments. Short term bonds in dollars (US, Canadian, Australian, NZ), euros, pounds, reals, yen, rubles... Stocks, in several stock exchanges around the world, in diversified sectors. Gold, silver, platinum, copper, diamonds (and I ain't talking jewelry or certificates here). Now let's talk real estate....

            Seriously, you are full of shit. The rich don't give a damn about inflation in one country or the next. What they DO care about is how to profit from the situation. There's always profit, if you're big enough.

            • Let's not forget super-leveraged investments that are so disconnected from the value of the currency they're priced in, that for simplicity's sake, banks often barter the interest rates of one security to another.

            • I don't know why people keep looking at it as rich people doing this. Inflation benefits borrowers by slowly (or rapidly) reduciing what they borrowed to chump change. If they can keep up the interest payments, as government does, then they never have to pay it back.

              That they pay your money out like a fool paying a credit card, well, the government is getting close to having a balanced budget again...not counting the annual interest payment.

              Got your money's worth?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They are laughing with glee at meeting or exceeding the Fed's explicit target for inflation. It drives down the value of the federal debt and allows corporations to raise prices while optionally choosing whether or not to provide raises for their employees. The elite are largely insulated from the effects of inflation through various investment strategies such as gold or just plain betting on higher inflation using derivatives. Meanwhile, mom and pop get socked with higher grocery bills while the talking he

      • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:50AM (#44923917)

        The powerful can absorb the costs more. If you have $20m in cash and inflation reduces your currency's value by 50% that is a negligible loss for you in terms of being able to live comfortably. However, someone who had only $20k in cash savings has been effectively crippled because the loss to their savings has a much nearer term effect on their quality of life. That is to say, a millionaire can get by on inflated millions in savings and be fine until they die if they live a middle class life style, but a middle class person may have just much of their ability to survive unemployment wiped out or reduced from a year down to 3 or six months.

        • However, someone who had only $20k in cash savings has been effectively crippled because the loss to their savings has a much nearer term effect on their quality of life.

          Not necessarily. Using some examples with 2% inflation and real dollars:
          - Your $20000 is now worth $19600, but your $90000 mortgage debt is now worth $88200, for a net gain of $1400. Especially if you have a fixed-rate mortgage, that means the bank assumed a certain level of inflation when determining your interest rate, and you are getting hurt if inflation is actually lower than that.

          - Your $20000 is now worth $19600, but your boss gives you a corresponding raise from $25000 a year to $25500 a year, for a

          • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday September 23, 2013 @12:02PM (#44924629)
            Your tax bracket is suddenly 30% instead of 20%... oh wait, what? People always forget this amazing benefit (for the government) of inflation.
            • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

              by i kan reed ( 749298 )

              "Waah, the last few dollars of my income are taxed at a slightly higher rate, and I'm deliberately ignoring, for the sake of making my argument not completely retarded, that the government does inflation adjust tax brackets quite frequently."

              • by Anonymous Coward
                I realize everyone else reading /. is a successful professional, but after going 2 years without a raise (company freeze), when I finally got a COL raise the amount was less than the SNAP my family was receiving, but was enough to make us ineligible. The working poor are generally screwed by inflation.
                • Yes, SNAP isn't treated sensibly, nor is minimum wage, but taxes are. I feel bad for you, and don't vote for the idiots who do that, but that wasn't the point under discussion.

                • It sounds like you were screwed all right, but not by inflation:
                  (1) Your employer screwed you by freezing salaries. Were executive salaries frozen or cut during the same period? I doubt it.
                  (2) The federal government screwed you by making people like you ineligible for SNAP. This was probably because as bad as your life was / is, they got hit by millions of families who are in even worse shape. And, if you didn't see the news, the Republicans in the House just passed a bill to cut SNAP even more, which could

        • That only makes sense in terms of how literally everything affects the rich less. But inflation tends to be less regressive. For the rich, the $20m in cash is also what generates most of your cashflow, as capital gains. Whereas someone with $20K in savings will only be seeing negligible interest payments from that. Instead, his daily life would be determined by his income from his job, which would scale automatically with inflation.

          Deducting the value of a household's home (which scales with inflation) from

      • by lxs ( 131946 )

        You don't think that the powerful sit on a pile of cash do you?
        We make our money work for us by investing it in commodities and businesses and reap that sweet sweet profit.

      • by tmosley ( 996283 )
        Wrong. The powerful get to use the printed money first, stealing purchasing power from everyone else. This is one of the most fundamental arguments against fiat currency.
        • Exactly, I don't know why this is so hard to understand. This is how it traditionally works in banana republics:

          Step 1. Promise free stuff (spending on the poor etc)
          Step 2. Gain power, influence and wealth by winning an election.
          Step 3. Pay for the above spending by borrowing
          Step 4. Once the debt gets too large, pay it by printing money

          The resulting inflation that mostly harms the poor from the step 1 is a side effect, left to the next government to deal with with austerity measures (guess who suffers the m

      • But interest rates on deposits and bonds go UP; and this is where most of these nabobs make most of their coin. The late 70s and early 80s saw Tbills paying upwards of 16%, but that meant mortgage rates were 18+. Bad for the people who work for a living, but no problem for the folks who can pay cash for the new villa.
      • "The powerful don't want to see inflation, it makes their money worth less."

        Not true. At least, partially not true.

        Inflation makes OUR money worth less. Not theirs. Why? The time delay factor.

        See, when the government and the banks inflate the money supply, where does that new money go first? Answer: the banks, the government, and Wall Street.

        But it takes time for an inflated money supply to significantly affect prices. During that time, the banks, government, & Wall Street have already used that money... at full value. It isn't until later, by the time it gets into you

      • by Shark ( 78448 )

        The powerful don't hold a significant portion of their wealth as cash in a bank account. Even stocks aremore resilient to inflation. Land is great for that, properties, some commodities... When you have that kind of wealth, protecting it from inflation is relatively trivial.

  • Alternate Title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @09:47AM (#44923441)

    I propose an alternate title to this story:

    "An open invitation for cranky Slashdotters to complain about waste of taxpayer money -- despite it being non-governmental funded -- to study a topic I find ridiculous."

    • How about "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent?
    • "An open invitation for cranky Slashdotters to complain."


    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hey, now. We're also going to get the crowd of "people who slept through Undergraduate Macroeconomics 101 ranting about 'fiat currency'".

      • Hey, now. We're also going to get the crowd of "people who slept through Undergraduate Macroeconomics 101 ranting about 'fiat currency'".

        Wow. You're not wrong []. I did not expect that one. Guess I should have.

    • Re:Alternate Title (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @11:01AM (#44924023)

      An open invitation to see causal relationships actually. This is /..
      "Laughter at Federal Reserve Meetings May Cause Inflation".

    • We have to find something for human workers to do since they're jobs are being replaced by the chinese, automation or advanced robotix.

  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @09:48AM (#44923449) Homepage Journal

    Banks are now rushing to plant stand-up comics on the reserve board so they can game on metric they haven't been able to before.

    In other news, concept of "causation" completely lost on those making the most important decisions affecting the world economy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @09:51AM (#44923467)

    From 2012:

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd laugh but I'm too busy crying. What we need to do is get these folks back to living inside of the circle of consequece instead of outside of it. Nobody else gets to vote themselves a raise, create their own health plan, retirement, etc. These guys should have to sleep in the same bed they've made for the rest of us.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Monday September 23, 2013 @09:58AM (#44923527)

      Nobody else gets to vote themselves a raise, create their own health plan, retirement, etc.

      Um, that's pretty much how C-level executives work at large companies. They are nominally under the control of the board, who is nominally the elected representatives of the shareholders, but like with our elected political representatives, in practice they have quite a bit of unrestrained control over things like voting each other raises and approving golden-parachute contracts (formally on behalf of the shareholders who voted the board in, of course).

  • Especially when discussing inflation 5 years out.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The laughing you hear isn't because they're nervous about inflation. They're nervous that someday you might just figure out the scam. The scam that inflation is just a hidden government tax that they don't even have finite control over.

  • As far as unfortunate consequences are concerned, more women in Federal Reserve meetings would at least curb the man's laughter rate in those meetings.
  • Haha hahaha ha... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:05AM (#44923581) Journal
    hahahah ahaha haha hahahahaha hahahah ahahaha...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Muahahahah Muaahaha Muahaha Muahahahahaha Muahahahah Muaahahaha...


  • What is this kind of laugh? []

  • by Anonymous Coward
  • 1. uncontrollable sobbing in the mens room may be attributable to the creation of a monster that no longer seems to respond to any economic theory past or present.
    2. exhausted yawns and dosing are considered a sign that regulation is being proposed.
    3. flatulence indicates carmimes deli has started using that half-mayo half-mustard topping on its deli subs again...
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:31AM (#44923805)

    It's pretty easy to laugh all the way to the bank when you're already there.

  • I had to click through both links just to be sure.

  • As you quantitatively ease yourselves into our bungholes to the tune of 85 billion a month...

  • Or could it be that they're just assholes who have a better understanding of what a house of mirrored cards our debt based financial system is than most of the public, and (like those douches at Enron who laughed about old lady's power being shut off due to such high bills thanks to their profiteering/racketeering) think it's pretty damn funny that they kite a whole system the way a criminal kites a check.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday September 23, 2013 @12:36PM (#44925107) Homepage Journal

    The Keynesian School (along with some Monetarists), which controls The Fed, claims to not believe that printing money ("quantitative easing") can in, in fact, create price inflation (they contend it should get the economy roaring and the opposite should happen). Now Keynes himself didn't believe this, but his disciples think he was mistaken on that particular count.

    Meanwhile, the Austrian School economists contend that the money creation is itself the monetary inflation (by definition...) and that price inflation is just an inevitable consequence of monetary inflation (more dollars in the pool means each dollar has less value).

    The trouble is, the Austrians take that consequence to say that it means that ultimately the central banks are harmful to the economy, since they're constantly interfering in the transfer of information across the economy by interfering with pricing and interest signals. If you're a central banker, the idea that central bankers are harmful can't be true, so if anything happens that indicates the the Austrians might be right after all, it's going to be a a bit unsettling.

    • Okay. I'll bite. Where is the inflation?

      • Okay. I'll bite. Where is the inflation?

        It's currently $84B per month, but if you look at the numbers Sen. Lahey's office uncovered, that pales in comparison to the $16T+ in new dollar creation that the Fed secretly engaged in.

        If you mean prices, you can look here [] for the pre-political CPI-U calculations (no basket substitutions, etc.) or you could look at any commodities index over the time period, or, heck, just go to the grocery store. If you buy food for a family, try pricing ground beef, peanut butter

  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:24PM (#44927051) Journal

    Almost all outputs of human labor are perishable. Grain stored in a silo will rot or get infested. Cars break down. Computers become obsolete. Money should reduce in value too, since money is (or should be) foremost a mechanism for exchange of perishable goods or labor. If money increases in value in time, or even stays the same, this encourages hoarding, since money becomes a better investment than what it supposed to stand for. If you did me a favor ten years ago, it matters to me less than if you did one today, because time erases everything. Your money should also be worth somewhat less today. It's silly to think that the labor or goods of your ancestors should entitle you to goods today, but people think that way about money.

    Of course, the rich DO NOT want their money to diminish in value.

  • Is this the concept behind the Laffer Curve?

  • Alternate explanation would be that usually economic downturn is linked with low inflation, whereas when economy is thriving, inflation is often a concern.

    Could it just be that people tend to laugh more when things are going well in general (omitting inflation), and are in turn more somber at hard times?

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