Friday, October 23, 2015

An Unlikely Fun Time at the Federal Reserve

St. Louis is home to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis which serves bits and pieces of multiple states, covering cities like Memphis, Little Rock, and Louisville.

Missouri is the only state that has two Fed Banks, the other one is in Kansas City.

So I've walked past the place a hundred times and always kind of wondered what it was like in there. The building itself looks pretty awesome from the outside at least. So when I saw signs for the new Inside the Economy Museum, you know I had to go. The place has normal business hours so I had to wait for a day when Lydia would be home from work early.

Just getting into the place was pretty notable. It's very fancy inside, with pretty much every surface being marble, and lots of fancy metal work around doors. It also had a serious amount of security. We had to go through airport style metal detectors, wear ID badges, have our drivers licenses scanned, and there was even a canine unit walking through the actual museum while we were checking it out. There must be some serious money in that place somewhere.

The museum started off with a very impressive room featuring this crazy laser lightshow-esque extravaganza. It was definitely among my top 5 favorite economics themed lightshows.

Lydia beat me at this commodity trading simulator game. Suspicious, I know.

This reminded me of a drug movie.

The place was a lot more interesting than I expected it would be. The place had very high production values and did a really good job of explaining how different aspects of the economy work. My favorite was this cool video with a graph of every country's income plotted against their life expectancy, then all the dots flowed up and down with time since like the 1800s or something. World wars would send all the dots plummeting only to bounce right back up, and some countries got their act together and moved up and others didn't. It was really cool. 

This is what a million in one dollar bills looks like apparently.

There was a giftshop and they were giving away free bags of shredded money! I figure I can round up a few bags of this and buy some tape, and Lydia's students can do a fun art project for me.

The whole thing was really cool. My theory on why the museum exists is that it's a public outreach program to counter the "audit the Fed" and similar political grumblings against the Federal Reserve system in general.

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