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CNBC's Schacknow: Geek Pride and the Fed's $38 Billion Strategy

The Time Has Come To Be A Geek!

One of my primary tenets over many years of covering business news has been -- don’t be a geek.

I don’t mean that in the conventional way, i.e. pencils, pocket protectors, big glasses, the whole bit from the notable 1984 movie “Revenge Of The Nerds.” I mean, don’t toss around complex financial terms without sufficient explanation, just to show how smart you are.

I’ve been pretty good about this, helped by the fact that at a place like CNBC, I’m not even remotely close to being the smartest one in the room. However, years of hanging around market savants -- and a few years of covering the New York Fed’s Thursday money supply briefing -- have left me with an abundance of terminology that often prompts cries of “geek!” (If you don’t believe me, try talking about M3, net misses, and other arcane terms after one of those briefings).

Today, however, years of dabbling in geekery came in quite handy. Most people, I’ve found, couldn't care less about the Fed’s regular injection of liquidity into the financial system, but today, they should care.

On Friday, the Fed injected $38 billion in funds into the nation’s banking system, the biggest one-day injection since Sept. 14, 2001. In essence, what that means is that the demand for cash to cover the credit crunch was so great that it drove the federal funds rate above the Fed’s target rate of 5.25%, and that the Fed was ready, willing, and able to step in to keep the system liquid. That, in turn, helped stocks erase steep losses.

Clearly, the credit crunch, the Fed’s move, and anything else that affects your portfolio has relevance. And those of us on the support staff need to have the ability to write stories explaining it, especially to people who are not professionals and don’t necessarily understand how it all works.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen our senior economics correspondent Steve Liesman as excited as he was today, when the Fed came back to the market a third time and put in another $16 billion. I shared his excitement. And no one called either of us a “geek.” At least not yet.