Twitter and the Federal Reserve

Brookings Center on Regulation & Markets Working Paper

25 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Peter Conti-Brown

Peter Conti-Brown

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; Brookings Institution

Brian D. Feinstein

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: October 29, 2020

Abstract

In the last generation, the Federal Reserve launched a “quiet revolution” in how it approaches communication. Most of the tools that the Fed uses to communicate, however, have remained relatively static and indifferent to rapid technological change: speeches, congressional testimony, press conferences and select interviews, and the like. This white paper undertakes the first systematic analysis of the Fed’s participation on Twitter, a medium of increasing importance to public policy discussions. We also analyze how President Donald Trump, one of the most prolific users of the medium, has influenced conversations about the Fed on Twitter.

Using several large datasets—including a dataset containing one percent of all tweets published worldwide—we reach several novel conclusions. Most prominently, we find that the Fed’s Board of Governors is more engaged on Twitter than other independent agencies, but less than executive departments; that other Twitter users engage the Fed more negatively than they do other central banks and federal agencies; that President Trump amplified the conversation on Twitter regarding the Fed; and that the President’s tweets criticizing the Fed elicited a larger, more favorable response than his other tweets. We conclude with suggestions on improving the Fed’s presence on Twitter, particularly at the Federal Reserve Regional Banks, and discuss the ways that political conversations on Twitter may influence Fed communication strategies.

Keywords: social media, Federal Reserve, central banks, Twitter, government communications

JEL Classification: E58

Suggested Citation

Conti-Brown, Peter and Feinstein, Brian D., Twitter and the Federal Reserve (October 29, 2020). Brookings Center on Regulation & Markets Working Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3778217

Peter Conti-Brown

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Brian D. Feinstein (Contact Author)

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3730 Walnut Street
Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

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