By Howard Schneider

WASHINGTON - The election of Donald Trump threw Federal Reserve officials into a scramble to determine what it meant for the American economy, the world, and the U.S. central bank's own standing, according to transcripts of Fed meetings from 2016.

At the Fed's policy meeting a month after Trump's Nov. 8, 2016 victory, there were jokes about the unexpected outcome, warnings of the deep fissures it showed in the U.S. economy and the challenges it might pose to the central bank's independence.

"According to some interpretations of the Book of Revelations, when three unusual events occur together, they may be a sign that the apocalypse is near. Let's take stock," St. Louis Fed President James Bullard joked, referring to the final book in the Bible's New Testament and placing Trump's victory in a category with the Chicago Cubs long-awaited World Series victory that year and folk singer Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize.

"Does the recent election usher in a regime change with respect to growth prospects for the U.S. economy? The short answer to this is 'maybe,' and we are treating this as an upside risk," he said, according to one of the transcripts, which were released by the Fed on Friday.

Fed staff promptly tried to build best guesses about whether the Republican businessman would follow through with tax cuts and fiscal spending, tariffs on trading partners or new immigration rules.

The market reaction - a jump in stock prices - took some at the central bank by surprise, while others noted that their business contacts "used words like 'exuberance' and 'euphoria,'" because they expected lighter regulation and lower taxes, said Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Fed at the time.

The transcripts, which are released after a five-year lag, provide a window beyond the more scripted official statements of the day into how central bank policymakers grappled with a political event they understood from the...

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