DollyWhen thinking about where the economy is heading, top Federal Reserve Board officials might look to the teachings of John Maynard Keynes, Adam Smith or Walter Bagehot. But Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, apparently channels singer and actress Dolly Parton.

In a speech Thursday at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Fisher explained that he met Parton when they served on a committee that advises the Library of Congress.

“What does this have to do with the economy?” he asked, quite reasonably.

“Well, in thinking about what I wanted to say tonight, I was reminded about an incident that occurred when Ms. Parton was given the Library of Congress’ Living Legend medal for her contributions to American culture,” he said. “At dinner afterward, a rather indignant woman, offended by Ms. Parton’s … topography, thought to diminish her by noting how disproportionately small her feet seemed to be. Dolly’s saucy riposte was a classic: ‘Well, you know, sweetie, it is very hard to grow anything in the shade.’”

Still wondering what this has to do with the economy?

“Tonight, I wish to speak of the difficulty of growing our economy in the shade of an abundance of excess capacity for the production of goods and services worldwide,” he said.

Fisher has gained a reputation for setting himself apart from the often wonkish speeches made by Fed officials. In May, he compared the populist outrage against the banking industry to anti-Semitic rants made during the Great Depression.

Earlier in the year, he claimed to have “the longest experience in China not only of any Federal Reserve official, but perhaps any American policymaker you will ever meet.”

How’s that the case? Because he was conceived in China.

Talk about greater transparency at the Fed.