Mr. Chairman, like Roger, I was in the group originally that was very uneasy about this. But I’ve come to the other side and believe that, on balance, it is probably the thing to do.
Let me mention just a couple of thoughts, without completely repeating what others have said. I would also commend Vincent and the staff and Bill and Don for helping us understand some of the issues involved. I was thinking that more and more over the last few years—starting with Dave and his staff and our own staff—we have used the concept of error bands around our forecasts. And it seems to me that there are, in fact, distinct opinion bands around our views in a meeting. I’ve been among those who have been very uncomfortable trying to boil down our post- meeting statement to a few phrases. I share some of Cathy’s feeling that, if we’re going to release the minutes earlier, we might like to have a tradeoff at some point and that might be the way to accomplish it. I agree completely with the point that Ben, Roger, and Tim all made about the fact that we’re making speeches anyway and the market is analyzing what we say. I’ve found myself over and over again a week or two after a meeting, when it’s time to go back out and hit the street again, wishing that the minutes were in play so that they could provide a frame of reference for my comments. I think it’s a distinct advantage to have the minutes in the public domain earlier.
Finally, I’d note a couple of nuances that perhaps could go unsaid. One of them I say with some trepidation. In the original discussion, I raised some concern about not knowing what happens after all the comments come in or how they get resolved. Vincent has done a nice job of telling me what he did in terms of the disposition of my comments. But I have no concept of what other comments came in and what kind of process he went through behind the scenes to take them into account. I don’t mean that as a lack of confidence in either Vincent or you, Mr. Chairman, to tailor the final minutes appropriately. They’ve turned out pretty well. But there may be other Secretariats or other Chairmen that I’d be a little uncomfortable just turning loose and giving a blank check. In the last discussion of this you suggested that it might be possible to have a small editing committee so that somebody would know what kind of comments were coming in and how they were handled. So that issue of how differences are resolved when various comments come in still makes me a little uneasy.
Let me make one final comment. If we’re not going to release the minutes early but continue to produce them early, I wonder if we don’t leave ourselves a little vulnerable to criticism if somebody outside finds out that we have, in fact, produced them but have put them on a shelf. If the minutes are in final form and people find out about that, I think we’re really vulnerable to somebody saying, “Why didn’t you release them?” So I don’t know whether that halfway house works or not. Thanks.