Federal Reserve System
Overview
 
The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve, and informally as the Fed) is the central bank
Central bank
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that usually issues the currency, regulates the money supply, and controls the interest rates in a country. Central banks often also oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries...

ing system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act
Federal Reserve Act
The Federal Reserve Act is an Act of Congress that created and set up the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes as legal tender...

, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907
Panic of 1907
The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic, was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on...

. Over time, the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System have expanded and its structure has evolved.
Encyclopedia
The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve, and informally as the Fed) is the central bank
Central bank
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that usually issues the currency, regulates the money supply, and controls the interest rates in a country. Central banks often also oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries...

ing system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act
Federal Reserve Act
The Federal Reserve Act is an Act of Congress that created and set up the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes as legal tender...

, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907
Panic of 1907
The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic, was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on...

. Over time, the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System have expanded and its structure has evolved. Events such as the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 were major factors leading to changes in the system. Its duties today, according to official Federal Reserve documentation, are to conduct the nation's monetary policy
Monetary policy
Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country controls the supply of money, often targeting a rate of interest for the purpose of promoting economic growth and stability. The official goals usually include relatively stable prices and low unemployment...

, supervise and regulate banking institutions, maintain the stability of the financial system and provide financial services to depository institution
Depository institution
A depository institution is a financial institution in the United States that is legally allowed to accept monetary deposits from consumers...

s, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions.

The task of the Federal Reserve System is to maintain employment, keep prices stable, and keep interest rates at a moderate level by regulating monetary policy. Components of the Federal Reserve System also supervise banks, provide financial services, and conduct research on the United States economy and the economies in the surrounding region.

The Federal Reserve System's structure is composed of the presidentially appointed Board of Governors (or Federal Reserve Board), the Federal Open Market Committee
Federal Open Market Committee
The Federal Open Market Committee , a committee within the Federal Reserve System, is charged under United States law with overseeing the nation's open market operations . It is the Federal Reserve committee that makes key decisions about interest rates and the growth of the United States money...

 (FOMC), twelve regional Federal Reserve Bank
Federal Reserve Bank
The twelve Federal Reserve Banks form a major part of the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States. The twelve federal reserve banks together divide the nation into twelve Federal Reserve Districts, the twelve banking districts created by the Federal Reserve Act of...

s located in major cities throughout the nation, numerous privately owned U.S. member banks and various advisory councils. The FOMC is the committee responsible for setting monetary policy and consists of all seven members of the Board of Governors and the twelve regional bank presidents, though only five bank presidents vote at any given time. The Federal Reserve System has both private and public components, and was designed to serve the interests of both the general public and private bankers. The result is a structure that is considered unique among central banks. It is also unusual in that an entity outside of the central bank, namely the United States Department of the Treasury
United States Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue...

, creates the currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 used.

According to the Board of Governors, the Federal Reserve is independent within government in that "its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government." Its authority is derived from statutes enacted by the U.S. Congress and the System is subject to congressional oversight. The members of the Board of Governors, including its chairman and vice-chairman, are chosen by the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 and confirmed by Congress. The government also exercises some control over the Federal Reserve by appointing and setting the salaries of the system's highest-level employees. Thus the Federal Reserve has both private and public aspects. The U.S. Government receives all of the system's annual profits, after a statutory dividend
Dividend
Dividends are payments made by a corporation to its shareholder members. It is the portion of corporate profits paid out to stockholders. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, that money can be put to two uses: it can either be re-invested in the business , or it can be distributed to...

 of 6% on member banks' capital investment is paid, and an account surplus is maintained. In 2010, the Federal Reserve made a profit of $82 billion and transferred $79 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

Central banking in the United States

In 1690, the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Massachusetts Bay Colony was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century, in New England, situated around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston. The territory administered by the colony included much of present-day central New England, including portions...

 became the first to issue paper money in what would become the United States, but soon others began printing their own money as well. The demand for currency in the colonies was due to the scarcity of coins, which had been the primary means of trade. Colonies' paper currencies were used to pay for their expenses, as well as a means to lend money to the colonies' citizens. Paper money quickly became the primary means of exchange within each colony, and it even began to be used in financial transactions with other colonies. However, some of the currencies were not redeemable in gold or silver, which caused them to depreciate.

The first attempt at a national currency was during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. In 1775 the Continental Congress began issuing its own paper currency, calling its bills "Continentals". The Continentals were backed only by future tax revenue, and were used to help finance the Revolutionary War. As a result, the value of a Continental diminished quickly. The experience led the United States to be skeptical of unbacked currencies, which were not issued again until the Civil War.

In 1791 the government granted the First Bank of the United States
First Bank of the United States
The First Bank of the United States is a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within Independence National Historical Park.-Banking History:...

 a charter to operate as the U.S. central bank until 1811. Unlike the prior attempt at a centralized currency, the increase in the federal government's power, granted to it by the constitution, allowed national central banks to possess a monopoly on the issuing of U.S currency. Nonetheless, the First Bank of the United States came to an end under President Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 because Congress refused to renew its charter. The Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

 was established in 1816, and lost its authority to be the central bank of the U.S. twenty years later under President Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 when its charter expired. Both banks were based upon the Bank of England. Ultimately, a third national bank, known as the Federal Reserve, was established in 1913 and still exists to this day.

Timeline of central banking in the United States

  • 1791–1811: First Bank of the United States
    First Bank of the United States
    The First Bank of the United States is a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within Independence National Historical Park.-Banking History:...

  • 1811–1816: No central bank
  • 1816–1836: Second Bank of the United States
    Second Bank of the United States
    The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

  • 1837–1862: Free Bank Era
  • 1846–1921: Independent Treasury System
    Independent Treasury System
    The Independent Treasury was a system for the retaining of government funds in the United States Treasury and its subtreasuries, independently of the national banking and financial systems. In one form or another, it existed from 1846 to 1921....

  • 1863–1913: National Banks
  • 1913–Present: Federal Reserve System
Sources: , , , Chapter 1

Creation of First and Second Central Bank

The first U.S. institution with central banking responsibilities was the First Bank of the United States
First Bank of the United States
The First Bank of the United States is a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within Independence National Historical Park.-Banking History:...

, chartered by Congress and signed into law by President George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 on February 25, 1791 at the urging of Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

. This was done despite strong opposition from Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

, among numerous others. The charter was for twenty years and expired in 1811 under President Madison, because Congress refused to renew it.

In 1816, however, Madison revived it in the form of the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

. Years later, early renewal of the bank's charter became the primary issue in the reelection of President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

. After Jackson, who was opposed to the central bank, was reelected, he pulled the government's funds out of the bank. Nicholas Biddle
Nicholas Biddle (banker)
Nicholas Biddle was an American financier who served as the president of the Second Bank of the United States.-Ancestry and early life:...

, President of the Second Bank of the United States, responded by contracting the money supply to pressure Jackson to renew the bank's charter forcing the country into a recession, which the bank blamed on Jackson's policies. Interestingly, Jackson is the only President to completely pay off the national debt. The bank's charter was not renewed in 1836. From 1837 to 1862, in the Free Banking Era there was no formal central bank. From 1862 to 1913, a system of national banks was instituted by the 1863 National Banking Act
National Banking Act
The National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864 were two United States federal laws that established a system of national charters for banks, and created the United States National Banking System. They encouraged development of a national currency backed by bank holdings of U.S...

. A series of bank panics, in 1873
Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1873 triggered a severe international economic depression in both Europe and the United States that lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries. The depression was known as the Great Depression until the 1930s, but is now known as the Long Depression...

, 1893
Panic of 1893
The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, this panic was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures...

, and 1907
Panic of 1907
The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic, was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on...

, provided strong demand for the creation of a centralized banking system.

Creation of Third Central Bank

The main motivation for the third central banking system came from the Panic of 1907
Panic of 1907
The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic, was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on...

, which caused renewed demands for banking and currency reform. During the last quarter of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century the United States economy went through a series of financial panics. According to many economists, the previous national banking system had two main weaknesses: an inelastic
Elasticity (economics)
In economics, elasticity is the measurement of how changing one economic variable affects others. For example:* "If I lower the price of my product, how much more will I sell?"* "If I raise the price, how much less will I sell?"...

 currency and a lack of liquidity. In 1908, Congress enacted the Aldrich-Vreeland Act
Aldrich-Vreeland Act
The Aldrich–Vreeland Act was passed in response to the Panic of 1907 and established the National Monetary Commission, which recommended the Federal Reserve Act of 1913....

, which provided for an emergency currency and established the National Monetary Commission
National Monetary Commission
National Monetary Commission was a study group created by the Aldrich Vreeland Act of 1908. After the Panic of 1907 American bankers turned to Europe for ideas on how to operate a central bank. Senator Nelson Aldrich, Republican leader of the Senate, personally led a team of experts to major...

 to study banking and currency reform. The National Monetary Commission returned with recommendations which later became the basis of the Federal Reserve Act
Federal Reserve Act
The Federal Reserve Act is an Act of Congress that created and set up the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes as legal tender...

, passed in 1913.
Federal Reserve Act


The head of the bipartisan National Monetary Commission was financial expert and Senate Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 leader Nelson Aldrich. Aldrich set up two commissions—one to study the American monetary system in depth and the other, headed by Aldrich himself, to study the European central banking systems and report on them. Aldrich went to Europe opposed to centralized banking, but after viewing Germany's monetary system he came away believing that a centralized bank was better than the government-issued bond system that he had previously supported.

In early November 1910, Aldrich met with five well known members of the New York banking community to devise a central banking bill. Paul Warburg
Paul Warburg
Paul Moritz Warburg was a German-born American banker and early advocate of the U.S. Federal Reserve system.- Early life :...

, an attendee of the meeting and long time advocate of central banking in the U.S., later wrote that Aldrich was "bewildered at all that he had absorbed abroad and he was faced with the difficult task of writing a highly technical bill while being harassed by the daily grind of his parliamentary duties". After ten days of deliberation, the bill, which would later be referred to as the "Aldrich Plan", was agreed upon. It had several key components, including a central bank with a Washington-based headquarters and fifteen branches located throughout the U.S. in geographically strategic locations, and a uniform elastic currency based on gold and commercial paper. Aldrich believed a central banking system with no political involvement was best, but was convinced by Warburg that a plan with no public control was not politically feasible. The compromise involved representation of the public sector on the Board of Directors.

Aldrich's bill met much opposition from politicians. Critics were suspicious of a central bank, and charged Aldrich of being biased due to his close ties to wealthy bankers such as J. P. Morgan
J. P. Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan was an American financier, banker and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric...

 and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. was a major philanthropist and a pivotal member of the prominent Rockefeller family. He was the sole son among the five children of businessman and Standard Oil industrialist John D. Rockefeller and the father of the five famous Rockefeller brothers...

, Aldrich's son-in-law. Most Republicans favored the Aldrich Plan, but it lacked enough support in Congress to pass because rural and western states viewed it as favoring the "eastern establishment". In contrast, progressive Democrats favored a reserve system owned and operated by the government; they believed that public ownership of the central bank would end Wall Street's control of the American currency supply. Conservative Democrats fought for a privately owned, yet decentralized, reserve system, which would still be free of Wall Street's control.

The original Aldrich Plan was dealt a fatal blow in 1912, when Democrats won the White House and Congress. Nonetheless, President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 believed that the Aldrich plan would suffice with a few modifications. The plan became the basis for the Federal Reserve Act, which was proposed by Senator Robert Owen
Robert L. Owen
Robert Latham Owen, Jr. was one of the first two U.S. senators from Oklahoma. He served in the Senate between 1907 and 1925...

 in May 1913. The primary difference between the two bills was the transfer of control of the Board of Directors (called the Federal Open Market Committee in the Federal Reserve Act) to the government. The bill passed Congress on December 23, 1913, on a mostly partisan basis, with most Democrats voting "yea" and most Republicans voting "nay".

Key laws

Key laws affecting the Federal Reserve have been:
  • Federal Reserve Act
    Federal Reserve Act
    The Federal Reserve Act is an Act of Congress that created and set up the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes as legal tender...

  • Glass–Steagall Act
  • Banking Act of 1935
  • Employment Act of 1946
  • Federal Reserve-Treasury Department Accord of 1951
    1951 Accord
    The 1951 Accord, also known simply as the Accord, was an agreement between the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve that restored independence to the Fed....

  • Bank Holding Company Act of 1956
    Bank Holding Company Act of 1956
    The Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 is a United States Act of Congress that regulates the actions of bank holding companies.The original law , specified that the Federal Reserve Board of Governors must approve the establishment of a bank holding company, and prohibited bank holding companies...

     and the amendments of 1970
  • Federal Reserve Reform Act of 1977
    Federal Reserve Reform Act of 1977
    The Federal Reserve Reform Act of 1977 enacted a number of reforms to the Federal Reserve, making it more accountable for its actions on monetary and fiscal policy and tasking it with the goal to "promote maximum employment, production, and price stability". The act explicitly established price...

  • International Banking Act of 1978
  • Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act (1978)
  • Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act
    Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act
    The Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act, a United States federal financial statute law passed in 1980, gave the Federal Reserve greater control over non-member banks.* It forced all banks to abide by the Fed's rules....

     (1980)
  • Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989
    Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989
    The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 , , is a United States federal law enacted in the wake of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s....

  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991
    Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991
    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 , passed during the Savings and loan crisis, strengthened the power of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation....

  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
    Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
    The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act , also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, is an act of the 106th United States Congress...

     (1999)
  • Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act (2006)
  • Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (2008)
  • Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010)

Purpose

The primary motivation for creating the Federal Reserve System was to address banking panics
Bank run
A bank run occurs when a large number of bank customers withdraw their deposits because they believe the bank is, or might become, insolvent...

. Other purposes are stated in the Federal Reserve Act
Federal Reserve Act
The Federal Reserve Act is an Act of Congress that created and set up the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes as legal tender...

, such as "to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes". Before the founding of the Federal Reserve, the United States underwent several financial crises. A particularly severe crisis in 1907 led Congress to enact the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. Today the Federal Reserve System has broader responsibilities than only ensuring the stability of the financial system.

Current functions of the Federal Reserve System include:
  • To address the problem of banking panics
    Bank run
    A bank run occurs when a large number of bank customers withdraw their deposits because they believe the bank is, or might become, insolvent...

  • To serve as the central bank
    Central bank
    A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that usually issues the currency, regulates the money supply, and controls the interest rates in a country. Central banks often also oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries...

     for the United States
  • To strike a balance between private interests of banks and the centralized responsibility of government
    • To supervise and regulate banking institutions
    • To protect the credit rights of consumers
  • To manage the nation's money supply
    Money supply
    In economics, the money supply or money stock, is the total amount of money available in an economy at a specific time. There are several ways to define "money," but standard measures usually include currency in circulation and demand deposits .Money supply data are recorded and published, usually...

     through monetary policy
    Monetary policy
    Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country controls the supply of money, often targeting a rate of interest for the purpose of promoting economic growth and stability. The official goals usually include relatively stable prices and low unemployment...

     to achieve the sometimes-conflicting goals of
    • maximum employment
    • stable prices, including prevention of either inflation
      Inflation
      In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

       or deflation
    • moderate long-term interest rates
  • To maintain the stability of the financial system and contain systemic risk
    Systemic risk
    In finance, systemic risk is the risk of collapse of an entire financial system or entire market, as opposed to risk associated with any one individual entity, group or component of a system. It can be defined as "financial system instability, potentially catastrophic, caused or exacerbated by...

     in financial markets
  • To provide financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payments system
    • To facilitate the exchange of payments among regions
    • To respond to local liquidity needs
  • To strengthen U.S. standing in the world economy

Addressing the problem of bank panics

Bank runs occur because banking institutions in the United States are only required to hold a fraction of their depositors' money in reserve. This practice is called fractional-reserve banking
Fractional-reserve banking
Fractional-reserve banking is a form of banking where banks maintain reserves that are only a fraction of the customer's deposits. Funds deposited into a bank are mostly lent out, and a bank keeps only a fraction of the quantity of deposits as reserves...

. As a result, most banks invest the majority of their depositors' money. On rare occasion, too many of the bank's customers will withdraw their savings and the bank will need help from another institution to continue operating. Bank runs can lead to a multitude of social and economic problems. The Federal Reserve was designed as an attempt to prevent or minimize the occurrence of bank runs, and possibly act as a lender of last resort if a bank run does occur. Many economists, following Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician, academic, and author who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades...

, believe that the Federal Reserve inappropriately refused to lend money to small banks during the bank runs of 1929.

Elastic currency

One way to prevent bank runs is to have a money supply that can expand when money is needed. The term "elastic currency" in the Federal Reserve Act does not just mean the ability to expand the money supply, but also to contract it. Some economic theories have been developed that support the idea of expanding or shrinking a money supply as economic conditions warrant. Elastic currency is defined by the Federal Reserve as:
Monetary policy of the Federal Reserve System is based partially on the theory that it is best overall to expand or contract the money supply as economic conditions change.

Check Clearing System

Because some banks refused to clear checks from certain others during times of economic uncertainty, a check-clearing system was created in the Federal Reserve system. It is briefly described in The Federal Reserve System—Purposes and Functions as follows:

Lender of last resort

In the United States the Federal Reserve serves as the lender of last resort
Lender of last resort
A lender of last resort is an institution willing to extend credit when no one else will. The term refers especially to a reserve financial institution, most often the central bank of a country, intended to avoid bankruptcy of banks or other institutions deemed systemically important or 'too big to...

 to those institutions that cannot obtain credit elsewhere and the collapse of which would have serious implications for the economy. It took over this role from the private sector "clearing houses" which operated during the Free Banking Era; whether public or private, the availability of liquidity was intended to prevent bank runs.
Emergencies

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the United States, covers the 9th District of the Federal Reserve, including Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, northwestern Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan...

, "the Federal Reserve has the authority and financial resources to act as 'lender of last resort' by extending credit to depository institutions or to other entities in unusual circumstances involving a national or regional emergency, where failure to obtain credit would have a severe adverse impact on the economy." The Federal Reserve System's role as lender of last resort has been criticized because it shifts the risk and responsibility away from lenders and borrowers and places it on others in the form of inflation.
Fluctuations

Through its discount and credit operations, Reserve Banks provide liquidity to banks to meet short-term needs stemming from seasonal fluctuations in deposits or unexpected withdrawals. Longer term liquidity may also be provided in exceptional circumstances. The rate the Fed charges banks for these loans is the discount rate
Discount rate
The discount rate can mean*an interest rate a central bank charges depository institutions that borrow reserves from it, for example for the use of the Federal Reserve's discount window....

 (officially the primary credit rate).

By making these loans, the Fed serves as a buffer against unexpected day-to-day fluctuations in reserve demand and supply. This contributes to the effective functioning of the banking system, alleviates pressure in the reserves market and reduces the extent of unexpected movements in the interest rates. For example, on September 16, 2008, the Federal Reserve Board authorized an $85 billion loan to stave off the bankruptcy of international insurance giant American International Group
American International Group
American International Group, Inc. or AIG is an American multinational insurance corporation. Its corporate headquarters is located in the American International Building in New York City. The British headquarters office is on Fenchurch Street in London, continental Europe operations are based in...

 (AIG).

Central bank

In its role as the central bank
Central bank
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that usually issues the currency, regulates the money supply, and controls the interest rates in a country. Central banks often also oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries...

 of the United States, the Fed serves as a banker's bank and as the government's bank. As the banker's bank, it helps to assure the safety and efficiency of the payments system. As the government's bank, or fiscal agent, the Fed processes a variety of financial transactions involving trillions of dollars. Just as an individual might keep an account at a bank, the U.S. Treasury
United States Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue...

 keeps a checking account with the Federal Reserve, through which incoming federal tax deposits and outgoing government payments are handled. As part of this service relationship, the Fed sells and redeems U.S. government securities
Treasury security
A United States Treasury security is government debt issued by the United States Department of the Treasury through the Bureau of the Public Debt. Treasury securities are the debt financing instruments of the United States federal government, and they are often referred to simply as Treasuries...

 such as savings bonds and Treasury bills, notes and bonds. It also issues the nation's coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

 and paper currency. The U.S. Treasury, through its Bureau of the Mint
United States Mint
The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act of 1792, and placed within the Department of State...

 and Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is a government agency within the United States Department of the Treasury that designs and produces a variety of security products for the United States government, most notable of which is paper currency for the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve itself is...

, actually produces the nation's cash supply and, in effect, sells the paper currency to the Federal Reserve Banks at manufacturing cost, and the coins at face value. The Federal Reserve Banks then distribute it to other financial institutions in various ways. During the Fiscal Year 2008, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing delivered 7.7 billion notes at an average cost of 6.4 cents per note.

Federal funds

Federal funds are the reserve balances (also called federal reserve accounts) that private banks keep at their local Federal Reserve Bank. These balances are the namesake reserves of the Federal Reserve System. The purpose of keeping funds at a Federal Reserve Bank is to have a mechanism for private banks to lend funds to one another. This market for funds plays an important role in the Federal Reserve System as it is what inspired the name of the system and it is what is used as the basis for monetary policy. Monetary policy works partly by influencing how much interest the private banks charge each other for the lending of these funds.

Federal reserve accounts contain federal reserve credit, which can be converted into federal reserve note
Federal Reserve Note
A Federal Reserve Note is a type of banknote used in the United States of America. Federal Reserve Notes are printed by the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing on paper made by Crane & Co. of Dalton, Massachusetts. They are the only type of U.S...

s. Private banks maintain their bank reserves
Bank reserves
Bank reserves are banks' holdings of deposits in accounts with their central bank , plus currency that is physically held in the bank's vault . The central banks of some nations set minimum reserve requirements...

 in federal reserve accounts.

Balance between private banks and responsibility of governments

The system was designed out of a compromise between the competing philosophies of privatization and government regulation. In 2006 Donald L. Kohn, vice chairman of the Board of Governors, summarized the history of this compromise:
In the current system, private banks are for-profit businesses but government regulation places restrictions on what they can do. The Federal Reserve System is a part of government that regulates the private banks. The balance between privatization and government involvement is also seen in the structure of the system. Private banks elect members of the board of directors at their regional Federal Reserve Bank while the members of the Board of Governors are selected by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 and confirmed by the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. The private banks give input to the government officials about their economic situation and these government officials use this input in Federal Reserve policy decisions. In the end, private banking businesses are able to run a profitable business while the U.S. government, through the Federal Reserve System, oversees and regulates the activities of the private banks.

Government regulation and supervision

Federal Banking Agency Audit Act enacted in 1978 as Public Law 95-320 and Section 31 USC 714 of U.S. Code establish that the Federal Reserve may be audited by the Government Accountability Office
Government Accountability Office
The Government Accountability Office is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress. It is located in the legislative branch of the United States government.-History:...

 (GAO).
The GAO has authority to audit check-processing, currency storage and shipments, and some regulatory and bank examination functions, however there are restrictions to what the GAO may in fact audit. Audits of the Reserve Board and Federal Reserve banks may not include:
  1. transactions for or with a foreign central bank or government, or nonprivate international financing organization;
  2. deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy matters;
  3. transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee; or
  4. a part of a discussion or communication among or between members of the Board of Governors and officers and employees of the Federal Reserve System related to items (1), (2), or (3).


The financial crisis which began in 2007, corporate bailouts, and concerns over the Fed's secrecy have brought renewed concern regarding ability of the Fed to effectively manage the national monetary system. A July 2009 Gallup Poll found only 30% Americans thought the Fed was doing a good or excellent job, a rating even lower than that for the Internal Revenue Service, which drew praise from 40%. The Federal Reserve Transparency Act
Federal Reserve Transparency Act
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009 was a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives of the 111th United States Congress by Congressman Ron Paul . It proposed a reformed audit of the Federal Reserve System before the end of 2010. The bill had 319 cosponsors, and was referred to...

 was introduced by congressman Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

 in order to obtain a more detailed audit of the Fed. The Fed has since hired Linda Robertson who headed the Washington lobbying
Lobbying
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

 office of Enron
Enron
Enron Corporation was an American energy, commodities, and services company based in Houston, Texas. Before its bankruptcy on December 2, 2001, Enron employed approximately 22,000 staff and was one of the world's leading electricity, natural gas, communications, and pulp and paper companies, with...

 Corp. and was adviser to all three of the Clinton administration's Treasury secretaries.

The Board of Governors in the Federal Reserve System has a number of supervisory and regulatory responsibilities in the U.S. banking system, but not complete responsibility. A general description of the types of regulation and supervision involved in the U.S. banking system is given by the Federal Reserve:
Preventing asset bubbles

The board of directors of each Federal Reserve Bank District also has regulatory and supervisory responsibilities. For example, a member bank (private bank) is not permitted to give out too many loans to people who cannot pay them back. This is because too many defaults on loans will lead to a bank run. If the board of directors has judged that a member bank is performing or behaving poorly, it will report this to the Board of Governors. This policy is described in United States Code:
The punishment for making false statements or reports that overvalue an asset is also stated in the U.S. Code:
These aspects of the Federal Reserve System are the parts intended to prevent or minimize speculative asset bubbles, which ultimately lead to severe market corrections. The recent bubbles and corrections in energies, grains, equity and debt products and real estate cast doubt on the efficacy of these controls.

National payments system

The Federal Reserve plays an important role in the U.S. payments system. The twelve Federal Reserve Banks provide banking services to depository institutions and to the federal government. For depository institutions, they maintain accounts and provide various payment services, including collecting checks, electronically transferring funds, and distributing and receiving currency and coin. For the federal government, the Reserve Banks act as fiscal agents, paying Treasury checks; processing electronic payments; and issuing, transferring, and redeeming U.S. government securities.

In passing the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act
Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act
The Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act, a United States federal financial statute law passed in 1980, gave the Federal Reserve greater control over non-member banks.* It forced all banks to abide by the Fed's rules....

 of 1980, Congress reaffirmed its intention that the Federal Reserve should promote an efficient nationwide payments system. The act subjects all depository institutions, not just member commercial banks, to reserve requirements and grants them equal access to Reserve Bank payment services. It also encourages competition between the Reserve Banks and private-sector providers of payment services by requiring the Reserve Banks to charge fees for certain payments services listed in the act and to recover the costs of providing these services over the long run.

The Federal Reserve plays a vital role in both the nation's retail and wholesale payments systems, providing a variety of financial services to depository institutions. Retail payments are generally for relatively small-dollar amounts and often involve a depository institution's retail clients—individuals and smaller businesses. The Reserve Banks' retail services include distributing currency and coin, collecting checks, and electronically transferring funds through the automated clearinghouse system. By contrast, wholesale payments are generally for large-dollar amounts and often involve a depository institution's large corporate customers or counterparties, including other financial institutions. The Reserve Banks' wholesale services include electronically transferring funds through the Fedwire Funds Service
Fedwire
Formally known as the Federal Reserve Wire Network, Fedwire is a Real Time Gross Settlement Funds Transfer system operated by the Federal Reserve Banks that enables financial institutions to electronically transfer funds between its more than 9,289 participants...

 and transferring securities issued by the U.S. government, its agencies, and certain other entities through the Fedwire Securities Service. Because of the large amounts of funds that move through the Reserve Banks every day, the System has policies and procedures to limit the risk to the Reserve Banks from a depository institution's failure to make or settle its payments.

The Federal Reserve Banks began a multi-year restructuring of their check operations in 2003 as part of a long-term strategy to respond to the declining use of checks by consumers and businesses and the greater use of electronics in check processing. The Reserve Banks will have reduced the number of full-service check processing locations from 45 in 2003 to 4 by early 2011.

Structure

The Federal Reserve System has both private and public components, and can make decisions without the permission of Congress or the President of the U.S. The System does not require public funding, and derives its authority and purpose from the Federal Reserve Act
Federal Reserve Act
The Federal Reserve Act is an Act of Congress that created and set up the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes as legal tender...

 passed by Congress in 1913. The four main components of the Federal Reserve System are (1) the Board of Governors, (2) the Federal Open Market Committee, (3) the twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, and (4) the member banks throughout the country.

Board of Governors

The seven-member Board of Governors is a federal agency. It is charged with the overseeing of the 12 District Reserve Banks and setting national monetary policy. It also supervises and regulates the U.S. banking system in general.
Governors are appointed by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 and confirmed by the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 for staggered 14-year terms. The Board is required to make an annual report of operations to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors are appointed by the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 from among the sitting Governors. They both serve a four year term and they can be renominated as many times as the President chooses, until their terms on the Board of Governors expire.

List of members of the Board of Governors

The current members of the Board of Governors are as follows:
Commissioner Entered office Term expires
Ben Bernanke
Ben Bernanke
Ben Shalom Bernanke is an American economist, and the current Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States. During his tenure as Chairman, Bernanke has overseen the response of the Federal Reserve to late-2000s financial crisis....


(Chairman)
February 1, 2006 January 31, 2020
January 31, 2014 (as Chairman)
Janet Yellen
Janet Yellen
Janet Louise Yellen is an American economist and professor, who is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System...


(Vice Chairman)
October 4, 2010 January 31, 2024
October 4, 2014 (as Vice Chairman)
Elizabeth A. Duke August 5, 2008 January 31, 2012
Daniel Tarullo
Daniel Tarullo
Daniel Tarullo is a professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and a member of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve Board since January 28th, 2009...

January 28, 2009 January 31, 2022
Sarah Bloom Raskin
Sarah Bloom Raskin
Sarah Bloom Raskin is an American attorney and regulator, who is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Previously, she served as Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation.-Early life and education:...

October 4, 2010 January 31, 2016
Vacant ——
Vacant ——

Federal Open Market Committee

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) consists of 12 members, seven from the Board of Governors and 5 of the regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents. The FOMC oversees open market operations, the principal tool of national monetary policy. These operations affect the amount of Federal Reserve balances available to depository institutions, thereby influencing overall monetary and credit conditions. The FOMC also directs operations undertaken by the Federal Reserve in foreign exchange markets. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is a permanent member of the FOMC, while the rest of the bank presidents rotate at two- and three-year intervals. All Regional Reserve Bank presidents contribute to the committee's assessment of the economy and of policy options, but only the five presidents who are then members of the FOMC vote on policy decisions. The FOMC determines its own internal organization and, by tradition, elects the Chairman of the Board of Governors as its chairman and the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as its vice chairman. It is informal policy within the FOMC for the Board of Governors and the New York Federal Reserve Bank president to vote with the Chairman of the FOMC; anyone who is not an expert on monetary policy traditionally votes with the chairman as well; and in any vote no more than two FOMC members can dissent. Formal meetings typically are held eight times each year in Washington, D.C. Nonvoting Reserve Bank presidents also participate in Committee deliberations and discussion. The FOMC generally meets eight times a year in telephone consultations and other meetings are held when needed.

Federal Reserve Banks

There are 12 Federal Reserve Banks located in Boston
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, commonly known as the Boston Fed, is responsible for the First District of the Federal Reserve, which covers most of Connecticut , Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. It is headquartered in the Federal Reserve Bank Building in Boston,...

, New York
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks of the United States. It is located at 33 Liberty Street, New York, NY. It is responsible for the Second District of the Federal Reserve System, which encompasses New York state, the 12 northern counties of New Jersey,...

, Philadelphia
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is responsible for the Third District of the Federal Reserve, which covers eastern Pennsylvania, the 9 southern counties of New Jersey, and Delaware...

, Cleveland
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is the Cleveland-based headquarters of the U.S. Federal Reserve System's Fourth District. The district is composed of Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. It has branch offices in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh....

, Richmond
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond is the headquarters of the Fifth District of the Federal Reserve located in Richmond, Virginia. It covers the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and most of West Virginia. Branch offices are located in Baltimore, Maryland...

, Atlanta
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is responsible for the sixth district, which covers the states of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, 74 counties in the eastern two-thirds of...

, Chicago
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is one of twelve regional Reserve Banks that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the nation's central bank....

, St Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the nation's central bank. Missouri is the only state to have two Federal Reserve Banks . The St...

, Minneapolis
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the United States, covers the 9th District of the Federal Reserve, including Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, northwestern Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan...

, Kansas City
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City covers the 10th District of the Federal Reserve, which includes Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and portions of western Missouri and northern New Mexico. The Bank has branches in Denver, Oklahoma City, and Omaha. The current president is...

, Dallas
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas covers the Eleventh Federal Reserve District, which includes Texas, northern Louisiana and southern New Mexico....

, and San Francisco
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is the federal bank for the twelfth district in the United States. The twelfth district is made up of nine western states-—Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington--plus the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa,...

. Each reserve Bank is responsible for member banks located in its district. The size of each district was set based upon the population distribution of the United States when the Federal Reserve Act was passed. Each regional Bank has a president, who is the chief executive officer of their Bank. Each regional Reserve Bank's president is nominated by their Bank's board of directors, but the nomination is contingent upon approval by the Board of Governors. Presidents serve five year terms and may be reappointed.

Each regional Bank's board consists of nine members. Members are broken down into three classes: A, B, and C. There are three board members in each class. Class A members are chosen by the regional Bank's shareholders, and are intended to represent member banks' interests. Member banks are divided into three categories large, medium, and small. Each category elects one of the three class A board members. Class B board members are also nominated by the region's member banks, but class B board members are supposed to represent the interests of the public. Lastly, class C board members are nominated by the Board of Governors, and are also intended to represent the interests of the public.

A member bank is a private institution and owns stock in its regional Federal Reserve Bank. All nationally chartered banks hold stock in one of the Federal Reserve Banks. State chartered banks may choose to be members (and hold stock in their regional Federal Reserve bank), upon meeting certain standards. About 38% of U.S. banks are members of their regional Federal Reserve Bank. The amount of stock a member bank must own is equal to 3% of its combined capital and surplus. However, holding stock in a Federal Reserve bank is not like owning stock in a publicly traded company. These stocks cannot be sold or traded, and member banks do not control the Federal Reserve Bank as a result of owning this stock. The charter and organization of each Federal Reserve Bank is established by law and cannot be altered by the member banks. Member banks, do however, elect six of the nine members of the Federal Reserve Banks' boards of directors. From the profits of the Regional Bank of which it is a member, a member bank receives a dividend equal to 6% of their purchased stock. The remainder of the regional Federal Reserve Banks' profits is given over to the United States Treasury Department. In 2009, the Federal Reserve Banks distributed $1.4 billion in dividends to member banks and returned $47 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

Legal status of regional Federal Reserve Banks

The Federal Reserve Banks have an intermediate legal status, with some features of private corporations and some features of public federal agencies. The United States has an interest in the Federal Reserve Banks as tax-exempt federally-created instrumentalities whose profits belong to the federal government, but this interest is not proprietary. In Lewis v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a U.S. federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Alaska* District of Arizona...

 stated that: "The Reserve Banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of the FTCA [the Federal Tort Claims Act
Federal Tort Claims Act
The Federal Tort Claims Act or "FTCA", , is a statute enacted by the United States Congress in 1948. "Federal Tort Claims Act" was also previously the official short title passed by the Seventy-ninth Congress on August 2, 1946 as Title IV of the Legislative Reorganization Act, 60 Stat...

], but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations." The opinion went on to say, however, that: "The Reserve Banks have properly been held to be federal instrumentalities for some purposes." Another relevant decision is Scott v. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in which the distinction is made between Federal Reserve Banks, which are federally-created instrumentalities, and the Board of Governors, which is a federal agency.

Regarding the structural relationship between the twelve Federal Reserve banks and the various commercial (member) banks:
[ . . . ] the "ownership" of the Reserve Banks by the commercial banks is symbolic; they do not exercise the proprietary control associated with the concept of ownership nor share, beyond the statutory dividend, in Reserve Bank "profits." [ . . .] Bank ownership and election at the base are therefore devoid of substantive significance, despite the superficial appearance of private bank control that the formal arrangement creates.

Member banks

According to the web site for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, "[m]ore than one-third of U.S. commercial banks are members of the Federal Reserve System. National banks must be members; state chartered banks may join by meeting certain requirements."

Accountability

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Reserve banks, and the individual member banks undergo regular audits by the GAO and an outside auditor. GAO audits are limited and do not cover "most of the Fed’s monetary policy actions or decisions, including discount window lending (direct loans to financial institutions), open-market operations and any other transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee" ...[nor may the GAO audit] "dealings with foreign governments and other central banks." Various statutory changes, including the Federal Reserve Transparency Act
Federal Reserve Transparency Act
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009 was a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives of the 111th United States Congress by Congressman Ron Paul . It proposed a reformed audit of the Federal Reserve System before the end of 2010. The bill had 319 cosponsors, and was referred to...

, have been proposed to broaden the scope of the audits. Bloomberg L.P.
Bloomberg L.P.
Bloomberg L.P. is an American privately held financial software, media, and data company. Bloomberg makes up one third of the $16 billion global financial data market with estimated revenue of $6.9 billion. Bloomberg L.P...

 News brought a lawsuit
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

 against the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to force the Board to reveal the identities of firms for which it has provided guarantees. Bloomberg, L.P. won at the trial court level, and as of early September 2010 the case is on appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Monetary policy

The term "monetary policy
Monetary policy
Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country controls the supply of money, often targeting a rate of interest for the purpose of promoting economic growth and stability. The official goals usually include relatively stable prices and low unemployment...

" refers to the actions undertaken by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve, to influence the availability and cost of money and credit to help promote national economic goals. What happens to money and credit affects interest rates (the cost of credit) and the performance of an economy. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 gave the Federal Reserve authority to set monetary policy in the United States.

Interbank lending is the basis of policy

The Federal Reserve sets monetary policy by influencing the Federal funds rate
Federal funds rate
In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions actively trade balances held at the Federal Reserve, called federal funds, with each other, usually overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend...

, which is the rate of interbank lending of excess reserves
Excess reserves
In banking, excess reserves are bank reserves in excess of the reserve requirement set by a central bank. They are reserves of cash more than the required amounts. Holding excess reserves is generally considered costly and uneconomical as no interest is earned on the excess amount...

. The rate that banks charge each other for these loans is determined in the interbank market
Interbank lending market
The interbank lending market is a market in which banks extend loans to one another for a specified term. Most interbank loans are for maturities of one week or less, the majority being overnight. Such loans are made at the interbank rate...

 but the Federal Reserve influences this rate through the three "tools" of monetary policy described in the Tools section below.

The Federal Funds rate is a short-term interest rate the FOMC focuses on directly. This rate ultimately affects the longer-term interest rates throughout the economy. A summary of the basis and implementation of monetary policy is stated by the Federal Reserve:
This influences the economy through its effect on the quantity of reserves that banks use to make loans. Policy actions that add reserves to the banking system encourage lending at lower interest rates thus stimulating growth in money, credit, and the economy. Policy actions that absorb reserves work in the opposite direction. The Fed's task is to supply enough reserves to support an adequate amount of money and credit, avoiding the excesses that result in inflation and the shortages that stifle economic growth.

Tools

There are three main tools of monetary policy that the Federal Reserve uses to influence the amount of reserves in private banks:
Tool Description
Open market operations Purchases and sales of U.S. Treasury and federal agency securities—the Federal Reserve's principal tool for implementing monetary policy. The Federal Reserve's objective for open market operations has varied over the years. During the 1980s, the focus gradually shifted toward attaining a specified level of the federal funds rate
Federal funds rate
In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions actively trade balances held at the Federal Reserve, called federal funds, with each other, usually overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend...

 (the rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans of federal funds, which are the reserves held by banks at the Fed), a process that was largely complete by the end of the decade.
Discount rate The interest rate charged to commercial banks and other depository institutions on loans they receive from their regional Federal Reserve Bank's lending facility—the discount window
Discount window
The discount window is an instrument of monetary policy that allows eligible institutions to borrow money from the central bank, usually on a short-term basis, to meet temporary shortages of liquidity caused by internal or external disruptions...

.
Reserve requirements The amount of funds that a depository institution must hold in reserve against specified deposit liabilities.

Federal funds rate and open market operations

The Federal Reserve System implements monetary policy
Monetary policy
Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country controls the supply of money, often targeting a rate of interest for the purpose of promoting economic growth and stability. The official goals usually include relatively stable prices and low unemployment...

 largely by targeting the federal funds rate
Federal funds rate
In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions actively trade balances held at the Federal Reserve, called federal funds, with each other, usually overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend...

. This is the rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans of federal funds
Federal funds
In the United States, federal funds are overnight borrowings by banks to maintain their bank reserves at the Federal Reserve. Banks keep reserves at Federal Reserve Banks to meet their reserve requirements and to clear financial transactions...

, which are the reserves held by banks at the Fed. This rate is actually determined by the market and is not explicitly mandated by the Fed. The Fed therefore tries to align the effective federal funds rate with the targeted rate by adding or subtracting from the money supply through open market operations. The Federal Reserve System usually adjusts the federal funds rate target by 0.25% or 0.50% at a time.

Open market operations allow the Federal Reserve to increase or decrease the amount of money in the banking system as necessary to balance the Federal Reserve's dual mandates. Open market operations are done through the sale and purchase of United States Treasury security, sometimes called "Treasury bills" or more informally "T-bills" or "Treasuries". The Federal Reserve buys Treasury bills from its primary dealers. The purchase of these securities affects the federal funds rate, because primary dealers have accounts at depository institutions.

The Federal Reserve education website describes open market operations as follows:
Repurchase agreements


To smooth temporary or cyclical changes in the money supply, the desk engages in repurchase agreement
Repurchase agreement
A repurchase agreement, also known as a repo, RP, or sale and repurchase agreement, is the sale of securities together with an agreement for the seller to buy back the securities at a later date. The repurchase price should be greater than the original sale price, the difference effectively...

s (repos) with its primary dealers. Repos are essentially secured, short-term lending by the Fed. On the day of the transaction, the Fed deposits money in a primary dealer's
Primary dealers
Primary dealer is a formal designation of a firm as a market maker of government securities. Primary dealer systems are present in many countries including Canada, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

 reserve account, and receives the promised securities as collateral
Collateral (finance)
In lending agreements, collateral is a borrower's pledge of specific property to a lender, to secure repayment of a loan.The collateral serves as protection for a lender against a borrower's default - that is, any borrower failing to pay the principal and interest under the terms of a loan obligation...

. When the transaction matures, the process unwinds: the Fed returns the collateral and charges the primary dealer's reserve account for the principal and accrued interest. The term of the repo (the time between settlement and maturity) can vary from 1 day (called an overnight repo) to 65 days.

Discount rate

The Federal Reserve System also directly sets the "discount rate", which is the interest rate for "discount window lending", overnight loans that member banks borrow directly from the Fed. This rate is generally set at a rate close to 100 basis point
Basis point
A basis point is a unit equal to 1/100 of a percentage point or one part per ten thousand...

s above the target federal funds rate. The idea is to encourage banks to seek alternative funding before using the "discount rate" option. The equivalent operation by the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

 is referred to as the "marginal lending facility".

Both the discount rate and the federal funds rate influence the prime rate
Prime rate
Prime rate or prime lending rate is a term applied in many countries to a reference interest rate used by banks. The term originally indicated the rate of interest at which banks lent to favored customers, i.e., those with high credibility, though this is no longer always the case...

, which is usually about 3 percent higher than the federal funds rate.

Reserve requirements

Another instrument of monetary policy adjustment employed by the Federal Reserve System is the fractional reserve requirement
Reserve requirement
The reserve requirement is a central bank regulation that sets the minimum reserves each commercial bank must hold of customer deposits and notes...

, also known as the required reserve ratio. The required reserve ratio sets the balance that the Federal Reserve System requires a depository institution to hold in the Federal Reserve Banks, which depository institutions trade in the federal funds market discussed above. The required reserve ratio is set by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The reserve requirements have changed over time and some of the history of these changes is published by the Federal Reserve.
Reserve Requirements in the U.S. Federal Reserve System
Liability Type Requirement
Percentage of liabilities Effective date
Net transaction accounts
$0 to $10.7 million 0 12/30/10
More than $10.7 million to $58.8 million 3 12/30/10
More than $58.8 million 10 12/30/10

Nonpersonal time deposits 0 12/27/90

Eurocurrency liabilities 0 12/27/90


As a response to the financial crisis of 2008, the Federal Reserve now makes interest payments on depository institutions' required and excess reserve balances. The payment of interest on excess reserves gives the central bank greater opportunity to address credit market conditions while maintaining the federal funds rate close to the target rate set by the FOMC.

New facilities

In order to address problems related to the subprime mortgage crisis
Subprime mortgage crisis
The U.S. subprime mortgage crisis was one of the first indicators of the late-2000s financial crisis, characterized by a rise in subprime mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures, and the resulting decline of securities backed by said mortgages....

 and United States housing bubble
United States housing bubble
The United States housing bubble is an economic bubble affecting many parts of the United States housing market in over half of American states. Housing prices peaked in early 2006, started to decline in 2006 and 2007, and may not yet have hit bottom as of 2011. On December 30, 2008 the...

, several new tools have been created. The first new tool, called the Term Auction Facility
Term auction facility
The Term Auction Facility is a temporary program managed by the United States Federal Reserve designed to "address elevated pressures in short-term funding markets." Under the program the Fed auctions collateralized loans with terms of 28 and 84 days to depository institutions that are "in...

, was added on December 12, 2007. It was first announced as a temporary tool but there have been suggestions that this new tool may remain in place for a prolonged period of time. Creation of the second new tool, called the Term Securities Lending Facility
Term Securities Lending Facility
The Term Securities Lending Facility is a 28-day facility managed by the United States Federal Reserve that offers Treasury general collateral to the primary dealers in exchange for other program-eligible collateral...

, was announced on March 11, 2008. The main difference between these two facilities is that the Term Auction Facility is used to inject cash into the banking system whereas the Term Securities Lending Facility is used to inject treasury securities
Treasury security
A United States Treasury security is government debt issued by the United States Department of the Treasury through the Bureau of the Public Debt. Treasury securities are the debt financing instruments of the United States federal government, and they are often referred to simply as Treasuries...

 into the banking system. Creation of the third tool, called the Primary Dealer Credit Facility
Primary Dealer Credit Facility
On March 17, 2008, in response to the subprime mortgage crisis and the collapse of Bear Stearns, the Federal Reserve announced the creation of a new lending facility, the Primary Dealer Credit Facility...

 (PDCF), was announced on March 16, 2008. The PDCF was a fundamental change in Federal Reserve policy because now the Fed is able to lend directly to primary dealers, which was previously against Fed policy. The differences between these 3 new facilities is described by the Federal Reserve:
Some of the measures taken by the Federal Reserve to address this mortgage crisis have not been used since The Great Depression. The Federal Reserve gives a brief summary of these new facilities:
A fourth facility, the Term Deposit Facility, was announced December 9, 2009, and approved April 30, 2010, with an effective date of Jun 4, 2010. The Term Deposit Facility allows Reserve Banks to offer term deposits to institutions that are eligible to receive earnings on their balances at Reserve Banks. Term deposits are intended to facilitate the implementation of monetary policy by providing a tool by which the Federal Reserve can manage the aggregate quantity of reserve balances held by depository institutions. Funds placed in term deposits are removed from the accounts of participating institutions for the life of the term deposit and thus drain reserve balances from the banking system.
Term auction facility


The Term Auction Facility is a program in which the Federal Reserve auctions term funds to depository institutions. The creation of this facility was announced by the Federal Reserve on December 12, 2007 and was done in conjunction with the Bank of Canada
Bank of Canada
The Bank of Canada is Canada's central bank and "lender of last resort". The Bank was created by an Act of Parliament on July 3, 1934 as a privately owned corporation. In 1938, the Bank became a Crown corporation belonging to the Government of Canada...

, the Bank of England
Bank of England
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in the world...

, the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

, and the Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

 to address elevated pressures in short-term funding markets. The reason it was created is because banks were not lending funds to one another and banks in need of funds were refusing to go to the discount window. Banks were not lending money to each other because there was a fear that the loans would not be paid back. Banks refused to go to the discount window because it is usually associated with the stigma of bank failure.
Under the Term Auction Facility, the identity of the banks in need of funds is protected in order to avoid the stigma of bank failure. Foreign exchange swap lines with the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

 and Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

 were opened so the banks in Europe could have access to U.S. dollars. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke briefly described this facility to the U.S. House of Representatives on January 17, 2008:
It is also described in the Term Auction Facility FAQ
Term securities lending facility

The Term Securities Lending Facility is a 28-day facility that will offer Treasury general collateral to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's primary dealers in exchange for other program-eligible collateral. It is intended to promote liquidity in the financing markets for Treasury and other collateral and thus to foster the functioning of financial markets more generally. Like the Term Auction Facility, the TSLF was done in conjunction with the Bank of Canada
Bank of Canada
The Bank of Canada is Canada's central bank and "lender of last resort". The Bank was created by an Act of Parliament on July 3, 1934 as a privately owned corporation. In 1938, the Bank became a Crown corporation belonging to the Government of Canada...

, the Bank of England
Bank of England
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in the world...

, the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

, and the Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

. The resource allows dealers to switch debt that is less liquid for U.S. government securities that are easily tradable. It is anticipated by Federal Reserve officials that the primary dealers, which include Goldman Sachs Group. Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, will lend the Treasuries on to other firms in return for cash. That will help the dealers finance their balance sheets. The currency swap lines with the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

 and Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

 were increased.
Primary dealer credit facility

The Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) is an overnight loan facility that will provide funding to primary dealers in exchange for a specified range of eligible collateral and is intended to foster the functioning of financial markets more generally. This new facility marks a fundamental change in Federal Reserve policy because now primary dealers can borrow directly from the Fed when this previously was not permitted.
Interest on reserves

, the Federal Reserve banks will pay interest on reserve balances (required & excess) held by depository institutions. The rate is set at the lowest federal funds rate during the reserve maintenance period of an institution, less 75bp
Basis point
A basis point is a unit equal to 1/100 of a percentage point or one part per ten thousand...

. As of October 23, 2008, the Fed has lowered the spread to a mere 35 bp.
Term deposit facility

The Term Deposit Facility is a program through which the Federal Reserve Banks will offer interest-bearing term deposits to eligible institutions. By removing "excess deposits" from participating banks, the overall level of reserves available for lending is reduced, which should result in increased market interest rates, acting as a brake on economic activity and inflation. The Federal Reserve has stated that:
The Federal Reserve initially authorized up to five "small-value offerings are designed to ensure the effectiveness of TDF operations and to provide eligible institutions with an opportunity to gain familiarity with term deposit procedures." After three of the offering auctions were successfully completed, it was announced that small-value auctions would continue on an on-going basis.

The Term Deposit Facility is essentially a tool available to reverse the efforts that have been employed to provide liquidity to the financial markets and to reduce the amount of capital available to the economy. As stated in Bloomberg News:
Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, testifying before House Committee on Financial Services, described the Term Deposit Facility and other facilities to Congress in the following terms:
Asset Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility

The Asset Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (ABCPMMMFLF) was also called the AMLF. The Facility began operations on September 22, 2008, and was closed on February 1, 2010.

All U.S. depository institutions, bank holding companies (parent companies or U.S. broker-dealer affiliates), or U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks were eligible to borrow under this facility pursuant to the discretion of the FRBB.

Collateral eligible for pledge under the Facility was required to meet the following criteria:
  • was purchased by Borrower on or after September 19, 2008 from a registered investment company that held itself out as a money market mutual fund;
  • was purchased by Borrower at the Fund's acquisition cost as adjusted for amortization of premium or accretion of discount on the ABCP through the date of its purchase by Borrower;
  • was rated at the time pledged to FRBB, not lower than A1, F1, or P1 by at least two major rating agencies or, if rated by only one major rating agency, the ABCP must have been rated within the top rating category by that agency;
  • was issued by an entity organized under the laws of the United States or a political subdivision thereof under a program that was in existence on September 18, 2008; and
  • had a stated maturity that did not exceed 120 days if the Borrower was a bank or 270 days for non-bank Borrowers.

Commercial Paper Funding Facility

The Commercial Paper Funding Facility
Commercial Paper Funding Facility
Commercial Paper Funding Facility was a system created by the United States Federal Reserve Board during the Global financial crisis of 2008 to improve liquidity in the short-term funding markets. The CPFF was created on October 27, 2008 and funded a special purpose vehicle that purchased...

 (CPFF): on October 7, 2008 the Federal Reserve further expanded the collateral it will loan against, to include commercial paper
Commercial paper
In the global money market, commercial paper is an unsecured promissory note with a fixed maturity of 1 to 270 days. Commercial Paper is a money-market security issued by large banks and corporations to get money to meet short term debt obligations , and is only backed by an issuing bank or...

. The action made the Fed a crucial source of credit for non-financial businesses in addition to commercial banks and investment firms. Fed officials said they'll buy as much of the debt as necessary to get the market functioning again. They refused to say how much that might be, but they noted that around $1.3 trillion worth of commercial paper would qualify. There was $1.61 trillion in outstanding commercial paper, seasonally adjusted, on the market as of October 1, 2008, according to the most recent data from the Fed. That was down from $1.70 trillion in the previous week. Since the summer of 2007, the market has shrunk from more than $2.2 trillion. This program lent out a total $738 billion before it was closed. Forty-five out of 81 of the companies participating in this program were foreign firms. Research shows that Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recipients were twice as likely to participate in the program than other commercial paper issuers who did not take advantage of the TARP bailout. The Fed incurred no losses from the CPFF.

Quantitative policy

A little-used tool of the Federal Reserve is the quantitative policy. With that the Federal Reserve actually buys back corporate bonds and mortgage backed securities held by banks or other financial institutions. This in effect puts money back into the financial institutions and allows them to make loans and conduct normal business. The Federal Reserve Board used this policy in the early 1990s when the U.S. economy experienced the savings and loan crisis
Savings and Loan crisis
The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was the failure of about 747 out of the 3,234 savings and loan associations in the United States...

.

The bursting of the United States housing bubble
United States housing bubble
The United States housing bubble is an economic bubble affecting many parts of the United States housing market in over half of American states. Housing prices peaked in early 2006, started to decline in 2006 and 2007, and may not yet have hit bottom as of 2011. On December 30, 2008 the...

 prompted the Fed to buy mortgage-backed securities for the first time in November 2008. Over six weeks, a total of $1.25 trillion were purchased in order stabilize the housing market, about one-fifth of all U.S. government-backed mortgages.

Measurement of economic variables

The Federal Reserve records and publishes large amounts of data. A few websites where data is published are at the Board of Governors Economic Data and Research page, the Board of Governors statistical releases and historical data page, and at the St. Louis Fed's FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data) page. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) examines many economic indicators prior to determining monetary policy.

Some criticism involves economic data compiled by the Fed. The Fed sponsors much of the monetary economics research in the U.S., and Lawrence H. White
Lawrence H. White
Lawrence H. White is an Economics Professor at George Mason University who teaches graduate level Monetary Theory and Policy. He is considered an authority on the history and theory of free banking...

 objects that this makes it less likely for researchers to publish findings challenging the status quo.

Net worth of households and nonprofit organizations

The net worth of households and nonprofit organizations in the United States is published by the Federal Reserve in a report titled, Flow of Funds. At the end of fiscal year 2008, this value was $51.5 trillion.

Money supply

The most common measures are named M0 (narrowest), M1, M2, and M3. In the United States they are defined by the Federal Reserve as follows:
Measure Definition
M0 The total of all physical currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

, plus accounts at the central bank that can be exchanged for physical currency.
M1 M0 + those portions of M0 held as reserves or vault cash + the amount in demand account
Demand account
A transactional account is a deposit account held at a bank or other financial institution, for the purpose of securely and quickly providing frequent access to funds on demand, through a variety of different channels....

s ("checking" or "current" accounts).
M2 M1 + most savings account
Savings account
Savings accounts are accounts maintained by retail financial institutions that pay interest but cannot be used directly as money . These accounts let customers set aside a portion of their liquid assets while earning a monetary return...

s, money market accounts, and small denomination time deposits (certificates of deposit of under $100,000).
M3 M2 + all other CDs, deposits of eurodollars and repurchase agreement
Repurchase agreement
A repurchase agreement, also known as a repo, RP, or sale and repurchase agreement, is the sale of securities together with an agreement for the seller to buy back the securities at a later date. The repurchase price should be greater than the original sale price, the difference effectively...

s.


The Federal Reserve stopped publishing M3 statistics in March 2006, saying that the data cost a lot to collect but did not provide significantly useful information. The other three money supply measures continue to be provided in detail.

Personal consumption expenditures price index

The Personal consumption expenditures price index
Personal consumption expenditures price index
The PCE price index is a United States-wide indicator of the average increase in prices for all domestic personal...

, also referred to as simply the PCE price index, is used as one measure of the value of money. It is a United States-wide indicator of the average increase in prices for all domestic personal consumption. Using a variety of data including U.S. Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index prices, it is derived from the largest component of the Gross Domestic Product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 in the BEA's National Income and Product Accounts
National Income and Product Accounts
The National Income and Product Accounts are part of the national accounts of the United States. They are produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce...

, personal consumption expenditures.

One of the Fed's main roles is to maintain price stability, which means that the Fed's ability to keep a low inflation rate is a long-term measure of the their success. Although the Fed is not required to maintain inflation within a specific range, their long run target for the growth of the PCE price index is between 1.5 and 2 percent. There has been debate among policy makers as to whether or not the Federal Reserve should have a specific inflation targeting
Inflation targeting
Inflation targeting is an economic policy in which a central bank estimates and makes public a projected, or "target", inflation rate and then attempts to steer actual inflation towards the target through the use of interest rate changes and other monetary tools.Because interest rates and the...

 policy.

Inflation and the economy

There are two types of inflation that are closely tied to each other. Monetary inflation is an increase in the money supply. Price inflation is a sustained increase in the general level of prices, which is equivalent to a decline in the value or purchasing power of money. If the supply of money and credit increases too rapidly over many months (monetary inflation), the result will usually be price inflation. Price inflation does not always increase in direct proportion to monetary inflation; it is also affected by the velocity of money and other factors. With price inflation, a dollar buys less and less over time.

The effects of monetary and price inflation include:
  • Price inflation makes workers worse off if their incomes don't rise as rapidly as prices.
  • Pensioners living on a fixed income are worse off if their savings do not increase more rapidly than prices.
  • Lenders lose because they will be repaid with dollars that aren't worth as much.
  • Savers lose because the dollar they save today will not buy as much when they are ready to spend it.
  • Debtors win because the dollar they borrow today will be repaid with dollars that aren't worth as much.
  • Businesses and people will find it harder to plan and therefore may decrease investment in future projects.
  • Owners of financial assets suffer.
  • Interest rate-sensitive industries, like mortgage companies, suffer as monetary inflation drives up long-term interest rates and Federal Reserve tightening raises short-term rates.
  • Developed-market
    Developed market
    In investing, developed markets are those countries that are thought to be the most developed and therefore less risky.-FTSE Group's list:FTSE Group, a provider of economic and financial data, assigns the market status of countries as Developed, Advanced Emerging, Secondary Emerging or Frontier on...

     currencies become weaker against emerging markets.


In his 1995 book The Case Against the Fed
The Case Against the Fed
The Case Against the Fed is a 1994 book by Murray N. Rothbard taking a critical look at the United States Federal Reserve, fractional reserve banking, and central banks in general...

, economist Murray N. Rothbard argues that price inflation is caused only by an increase in the money supply, and only banks increase the money supply, then banks, including the Federal Reserve, are the only source of inflation.

Adherents of the Austrian School
Austrian School
The Austrian School of economics is a heterodox school of economic thought. It advocates methodological individualism in interpreting economic developments , the theory that money is non-neutral, the theory that the capital structure of economies consists of heterogeneous goods that have...

 of economic theory blame the economic crisis in the late 2000s on the Federal Reserve's policy, particularly under the leadership of Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan is an American economist who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006. He currently works as a private advisor and provides consulting for firms through his company, Greenspan Associates LLC...

, of credit expansion through historically low interest rates starting in 2001, which they claim enabled the United States housing bubble
United States housing bubble
The United States housing bubble is an economic bubble affecting many parts of the United States housing market in over half of American states. Housing prices peaked in early 2006, started to decline in 2006 and 2007, and may not yet have hit bottom as of 2011. On December 30, 2008 the...

.

Most mainstream economists favor a low, steady rate of inflation. Low (as opposed to zero or negative) inflation may reduce the severity of economic recessions by enabling the labor market to adjust more quickly in a downturn, and reduce the risk that a liquidity trap
Liquidity trap
A liquidity trap is a situation described in Keynesian economics in which injections of cash into an economy by a central bank fail to lower interest rates and hence to stimulate economic growth. A liquidity trap is caused when people hoard cash because they expect an adverse event such as...

 prevents monetary policy
Monetary policy
Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country controls the supply of money, often targeting a rate of interest for the purpose of promoting economic growth and stability. The official goals usually include relatively stable prices and low unemployment...

 from stabilizing the economy. The task of keeping the rate of inflation low and stable is usually given to monetary authorities
Monetary authority
Monetary authority is a generic term in finance and economics for the entity which controls the money supply of a given currency, and has the right to set interest rates, and other parameters which control the cost and availability of money...

.

Unemployment rate

One of the stated goals of monetary policy is maximum employment. The unemployment rate statistics are collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a unit of the United States Department of Labor. It is the principal fact-finding agency for the U.S. government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. The BLS is a governmental statistical agency that collects, processes, analyzes, and...

, and like the PCE price index are used as a barometer of the nation's economic health, and thus as a measure of the success of an administration's economic policies. Since 1980, both parties have made progressive changes in the basis for calculating unemployment, so that the numbers now quoted cannot be compared directly to the corresponding rates from earlier administrations, or to the rest of the world.

Budget

The Federal Reserve is self-funded. The vast majority (90%+) of Fed revenues come from open market operations, specifically the interest on the portfolio of Treasury securities as well as "capital gains/losses" that may arise from the buying/selling of the securities and their derivatives as part of Open Market Operations. The balance of revenues come from sales of financial services (check and electronic payment processing) and discount window loans. The Board of Governors (Federal Reserve Board) creates a budget report once per year for Congress. There are two reports with budget information. The one that lists the complete balance statements with income and expenses as well as the net profit or loss is the large report simply titled, "Annual Report". It also includes data about employment throughout the system. The other report, which explains in more detail the expenses of the different aspects of the whole system, is called "Annual Report: Budget Review". These are comprehensive reports with many details and can be found at the Board of Governors' website under the section "Reports to Congress"

Balance sheet

One of the keys to understanding the Federal Reserve is the Federal Reserve balance sheet (or balance statement
Balance sheet
In financial accounting, a balance sheet or statement of financial position is a summary of the financial balances of a sole proprietorship, a business partnership or a company. Assets, liabilities and ownership equity are listed as of a specific date, such as the end of its financial year. A...

). In accordance with Section 11 of the Federal Reserve Act
Federal Reserve Act
The Federal Reserve Act is an Act of Congress that created and set up the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States of America, and granted it the legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes as legal tender...

, the Board of Governors
Board of governors
Board of governors is a term sometimes applied to the board of directors of a public entity or non-profit organization.Many public institutions, such as public universities, are government-owned corporations. The British Broadcasting Corporation was managed by a board of governors, though this role...

 of the Federal Reserve System publishes once each week the "Consolidated Statement of Condition of All Federal Reserve Banks" showing the condition of each Federal Reserve bank and a consolidated statement for all Federal Reserve banks. The Board of Governors requires that excess earnings of the Reserve Banks be transferred to the Treasury as interest on Federal Reserve notes.

Below is the balance sheet as of July 6, 2011 (in billions of dollars):

NOTE: The Fed balance sheet shown in this article has assets, liabilities and net equity that do not add up correctly. The Fed balance sheet is missing the item "Reserve Balances with Federal Reserve Banks" which would make the balance sheet balance.
5" cellspacing="0" style="margin:auto; border:1px solid black;border-color:black;border-collapse:collapse;">
ASSETS:
Gold Stock 11.04
Special Drawing Rights Certificate Acct. 5.20
Treasury Currency Outstanding (Coin) 43.98
Securities Held Outright 2647.94
   U.S. Treasury Securities 1623.78
      Bills 18.42
      Notes and Bonds, nominal 1530.79
      Notes and Bonds, inflation-indexed 65.52
      Inflation Compensation 9.04
   Federal Agency Debt Securities
Agency debt
Agency debt is a security, usually a bond, issued by a U.S. government-sponsored agency. The offerings of these agencies are backed by the government, but not guaranteed by the government since the agencies are private entities. Such agencies have been set up in order to allow certain groups of...

115.30
   Mortgage-Backed Securities 908.85
Repurchase Agreements 0
Loans 12.74
Primary Credit 12
Secondary Credit 0
Seasonal Credit 53
   Credit Extended to AIG Inc. 0
   Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility
Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility
The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility is a program created by the U.S. Federal Reserve to spur consumer credit lending. The program was announced on November 25, 2008 and was to support the issuance of asset-backed securities collateralized by student loans, auto loans, credit card...

12.67
   Other Credit Extended 0
Commercial Paper Funding Facility
Commercial Paper Funding Facility
Commercial Paper Funding Facility was a system created by the United States Federal Reserve Board during the Global financial crisis of 2008 to improve liquidity in the short-term funding markets. The CPFF was created on October 27, 2008 and funded a special purpose vehicle that purchased...

 LLC
0
Net portfolio holdings of Maiden Lane LLC, Maiden Lane II LLC, and Maiden Lane III LLC
Maiden Lane Transactions
Maiden Lane Transactions refers to three limited liability companies created by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2008 as a financial vehicle to facilitate transactions involving three entities: the former Bear Stearns company as the first entity, the former American International Group's...

60.32
Preferred Interest in AIG Life-Insurance Subsidiaries 0
Net Holdings of TALF LLC
Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility
The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility is a program created by the U.S. Federal Reserve to spur consumer credit lending. The program was announced on November 25, 2008 and was to support the issuance of asset-backed securities collateralized by student loans, auto loans, credit card...

0.75
Float -1.05
Central Bank Liquidity Swap
Central bank liquidity swap
Central bank liquidity swap is a type of currency swap used by a country's central bank to provide liquidity of its currency to another country's central bank...

s
0
Other Assets 133.56
Total Assets 2914.51
5" cellspacing="0" style="float:left; border:1px solid black;border-color:black;border-collapse:collapse;"> LIABILITIES: Currency in Circulation 1031.30 Reverse repurchase agreements 68.09 Deposits 91.12    Term Deposits 0    U.S. Treasury, general account 76.56    U.S. Treasury, supplementary financing account 5    Foreign official 0.17    Service Related
Clearing balance requirement
Financial institutions use clearing balance requirement to describe the amount of money or balance which they anticipate will be required to perform their clearing services....

2.53    Other Deposits 6.85 Funds from AIG, held as agent 0 Other Liabilities 73.06 Total liabilities 1263.73 5" cellspacing="0" style="float:left; border:1px solid black;border-color:black;border-collapse:collapse;"> CAPITAL (AKA Net Equity) Capital Paid In 26.71 Surplus 25.91 Other Capital 4.16 Total Capital 56.78 MEMO (off-balance-sheet items) Marketable securities held in custody for foreign official and international accounts 3445.42    U.S. Treasury Securities 2708    Federal Agency Securities 737.31 Securities lent to dealers 30.46    Overnight 30.46    Term 0


Analyzing the Federal Reserve's balance sheet reveals a number of facts:
  • The Fed has over $11 billion in gold
    Gold
    Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

     stock (certificates), which represents the Fed's financial interest in the statutory-determined value of gold turned over to the U.S. Treasury in accordance with the Gold Reserve Act
    Gold Reserve Act
    The United States Gold Reserve Act of January 30, 1934 required that all gold and gold certificates held by the Federal Reserve be surrendered and vested in the sole title of the United States Department of the Treasury....

     on January 30, 1934. The value reported here is based on a statutory valuation of $42 2/9 per fine troy ounce. As of March 2009, the market value of that gold is around $247.8 billion.
  • The Fed holds more than $1.8 billion in coinage, not as a liability
    Legal liability
    Legal liability is the legal bound obligation to pay debts.* In law a person is said to be legally liable when they are financially and legally responsible for something. Legal liability concerns both civil law and criminal law. See Strict liability. Under English law, with the passing of the Theft...

     but as an asset
    Asset
    In financial accounting, assets are economic resources. Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value is considered an asset...

    . The Treasury Department is actually in charge of creating coins
    COinS
    ContextObjects in Spans, commonly abbreviated COinS, is a method to embed bibliographic metadata in the HTML code of web pages. This allows bibliographic software to publish machine-readable bibliographic items and client reference management software to retrieve bibliographic metadata. The...

     and U.S. Notes
    United States Note
    A United States Note, also known as a Legal Tender Note, is a type of paper money that was issued from 1862 to 1971 in the U.S. Having been current for over 100 years, they were issued for longer than any other form of U.S. paper money. They were known popularly as "greenbacks" in their heyday, a...

    . The Fed then buys coinage from the Treasury by increasing the liability
    Legal liability
    Legal liability is the legal bound obligation to pay debts.* In law a person is said to be legally liable when they are financially and legally responsible for something. Legal liability concerns both civil law and criminal law. See Strict liability. Under English law, with the passing of the Theft...

     assigned to the Treasury's account.
  • The Fed holds at least $534 billion of the national debt
    United States public debt
    The United States public debt is the money borrowed by the federal government of the United States at any one time through the issue of securities by the Treasury and other federal government agencies...

    . The "securities held outright" value used to directly represent the Fed's share of the national debt, but after the creation of new facilities in the winter of 2007–2008, this number has been reduced and the difference is shown with values from some of the new facilities.
  • The Fed has no assets from overnight repurchase agreements
    Repurchase agreement
    A repurchase agreement, also known as a repo, RP, or sale and repurchase agreement, is the sale of securities together with an agreement for the seller to buy back the securities at a later date. The repurchase price should be greater than the original sale price, the difference effectively...

    . Repurchase agreements are the primary asset of choice for the Fed in dealing in the open market. Repo assets are bought by creating depository institution liabilities and directed to the bank
    Bank
    A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

     the primary dealer
    Primary dealers
    Primary dealer is a formal designation of a firm as a market maker of government securities. Primary dealer systems are present in many countries including Canada, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

     uses when they sell into the open market.
  • The more than $1 trillion in Federal Reserve Note liabilities represents nearly the total value of all dollar bills in existence; over $176 billion is held by the Fed (not in circulation); and the "net" figure of $863 billion represents the total face value of Federal Reserve Notes in circulation.
  • The $916 billion in deposit liabilities of depository institutions shows that dollar bills are not the only source of government money. Banks can swap deposit liabilities of the Fed for Federal Reserve Notes back and forth as needed to match demand from customers, and the Fed can have the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
    Bureau of Engraving and Printing
    The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is a government agency within the United States Department of the Treasury that designs and produces a variety of security products for the United States government, most notable of which is paper currency for the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve itself is...

     create the paper bills as needed to match demand from banks for paper money. The amount of money printed has no relation to the growth of the monetary base (M0).
  • The $93.5 billion in Treasury liabilities shows that the Treasury Department does not use private banks but rather uses the Fed directly (the lone exception to this rule is Treasury Tax and Loan
    Treasury Tax and Loan
    Treasury Tax and Loan Service is a service offered by the Federal Reserve Banks of the United States that keeps tax receipts in the banking sector by depositing them into select banks that meet certain criteria....

     because the government worries that pulling too much money out of the private banking system during tax time could be disruptive).
  • The $1.6 billion foreign liability represents the amount of foreign central bank deposits with the Federal Reserve.
  • The $9.7 billion in 'other liabilities and accrued dividends' represents partly the amount of money owed so far in the year to member banks for the 6% dividend on the 3% of their net capital they are required to contribute in exchange for nonvoting stock their regional Reserve Bank in order to become a member. Member banks are also subscribed for an additional 3% of their net capital, which can be called at the Federal Reserve's discretion. All nationally chartered banks must be members of a Federal Reserve Bank, and state-chartered banks have the choice to become members or not.
  • Total capital represents the profit the Fed has earned, which comes mostly from assets they purchase with the deposit and note liabilities they create. Excess capital is then turned over to the Treasury Department and Congress to be included into the Federal Budget as "Miscellaneous Revenue".


In addition, the balance sheet also indicates which assets are held as collateral against Federal Reserve Notes.
Federal Reserve Notes and Collateral
Federal Reserve Notes Outstanding 1128.63
   Less: Notes held by F.R. Banks 200.90
   Federal Reserve notes to be collateralized 927.73
Collateral held against Federal Reserve notes 927.73
   Gold certificate account 11.04
   Special drawing rights certificate account 5.20
   U.S. Treasury, agency debt, and mortgage-backed securities pledged 911.50
   Other assets pledged 0

See also

  • Consumer Leverage Ratio
    Consumer leverage ratio
    Consumer Leverage Ratio is a term popularized by William Jarvis and Dr. Ian C MacMillan in a series of articles in the Harvard Business Review and refers to the ratio of total household debt, as reported by the Federal Reserve System to disposable personal income, as reported by the US Department...

  • Core inflation
    Core inflation
    Core inflation is a measure of inflation which excludes certain items that face volatile price movements, notably food and energy.The preferred measure by the Federal Reserve of core inflation in the United States is the core Personal consumption expenditures price index...

  • Criticism of the Federal Reserve
    Criticism of the Federal Reserve
    The Federal Reserve System, known colloquially as "the Fed", has faced various criticisms since its conception in 1913. The system was created as a third attempt at central banking in the United States...

  • Economic reports by U.S. government agencies
  • Executive Order 11110
    Executive Order 11110
    Executive Order 11110 was issued by U.S. President John F. Kennedy on June 4, 1963.This executive order delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury the president's authority to issue silver certificates under the Thomas Amendment of the Agricultural Adjustment Act.-Background:On November 28, 1961,...

  • Fed model
    Fed model
    The "Fed model" is a theory of equity valuation that has found broad application in the investment community. The model compares the stock market’s earnings yield to the yield on long-term government bonds...

  • Federal Reserve 800 billion dollar Consumer Loan and bond plan
    Federal Reserve 800 billion dollar Consumer Loan and bond plan
    The Federal Reserve announced on November 25, 2008 that it would create a $800 billion dollar stimulus package related to buying up debt and mortgage backed securities....

  • Federal Reserve Police
    Federal Reserve Police
    The U.S. Federal Reserve Police is the law enforcement arm of the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States.-History:...

  • Federal Reserve Statistical Release
    Federal Reserve Statistical Release
    The Federal Reserve of the United States gathers and publishes certain economic data and releases them as a Federal Reserve Statistical Release.The main categories include:*Principal Economic Indicators*Bank Asset Quality*Bank Assets and Liabilities...

  • Fort Knox Bullion Depository

  • Free banking
    Free banking
    Free banking refers to a monetary arrangement in which banks are subject to no special regulations beyond those applicable to most enterprises, and in which they also are free to issue their own paper currency...

  • Gold standard
    Gold standard
    The gold standard is a monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is a fixed mass of gold. There are distinct kinds of gold standard...

  • Government debt
    Government debt
    Government debt is money owed by a central government. In the US, "government debt" may also refer to the debt of a municipal or local government...

  • Greenspan put
    Greenspan put
    The "Greenspan Put" refers to the monetary policy approach that Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Board, and other Fed members exercised from the late 1987 to 2000....

  • History of Federal Open Market Committee actions
    History of Federal Open Market Committee actions
    This is a list of historical rate actions by the United States Federal Open Market Committee . The FOMC controls the supply of credit to banks and the sale of treasury securities. At scheduled meetings, the FOMC meets and makes any changes it sees as necessary, notably to the federal funds rate...

  • Independent Treasury
  • Legal Tender Cases
    Legal Tender Cases
    The Legal Tender Cases were a series of United States Supreme Court cases in the latter part of the nineteenth century that affirmed the constitutionality of paper money. In the 1870 case of Hepburn v. Griswold, the Court had held that paper money violated the United States Constitution. The...

  • Money market
    Money market
    The money market is a component of the financial markets for assets involved in short-term borrowing and lending with original maturities of one year or shorter time frames. Trading in the money markets involves Treasury bills, commercial paper, bankers' acceptances, certificates of deposit,...

  • Term auction facility
    Term auction facility
    The Term Auction Facility is a temporary program managed by the United States Federal Reserve designed to "address elevated pressures in short-term funding markets." Under the program the Fed auctions collateralized loans with terms of 28 and 84 days to depository institutions that are "in...



Recent

}}}}
  • Epstein, Lita & Martin, Preston (2003). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Federal Reserve. Alpha Books. ISBN 0-02-864323-2.
  • Greider, William
    William Greider
    William Greider is an American journalist and author who writes primarily about economics.His most recent book is . Before that he published The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy, which explores the basis and history of the corporation and how people can influence further...

     (1987). Secrets of the Temple. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-67556-7; nontechnical book explaining the structures, functions, and history of the Federal Reserve, focusing specifically on the tenure of Paul Volcker
    Paul Volcker
    Paul Adolph Volcker, Jr. is an American economist. He was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve under United States Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan from August 1979 to August 1987. He is widely credited with ending the high levels of inflation seen in the United States in the 1970s and...

  • R. W. Hafer. The Federal Reserve System: An Encyclopedia. Greenwood Press, 2005. 451 pp, 280 entries; ISBN 4-313-32839-0.
  • Meltzer, Allan H. A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 1: 1913–1951 (2004) ISBN 978-0-226-51999-9 (cloth) and ISBN 978-0-226-52000-1 (paper)
  • Meltzer, Allan H. A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2: Book 1, 1951–1969 (2009) ISBN 978-0-226-52001-8
  • Meltzer, Allan H. A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2: Book 2, 1969–1985 (2009) ISBN 978-0-226-51994-4; In three volumes published so far, Meltzer covers the first 70 years of the Fed in considerable detail
  • Meyer, Lawrence H (2004). A Term at the Fed: An Insider's View. HarperBusiness. ISBN 0-06-054270-5; focuses on the period from 1996 to 2002, emphasizing Alan Greenspan's
    Alan Greenspan
    Alan Greenspan is an American economist who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006. He currently works as a private advisor and provides consulting for firms through his company, Greenspan Associates LLC...

     chairmanship during the Asian financial crisis, the stock market boom
    Dot-com bubble
    The dot-com bubble was a speculative bubble covering roughly 1995–2000 during which stock markets in industrialized nations saw their equity value rise rapidly from growth in the more...

     and the financial aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
  • Woodward, Bob. Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom (2000) study of Greenspan in 1990s.

Historical

  • J. Lawrence Broz; The International Origins of the Federal Reserve System Cornell University Press. 1997.
  • Vincent P. Carosso, "The Wall Street Trust from Pujo through Medina", Business History Review (1973) 47:421-37
  • Chandler, Lester V. American Monetary Policy, 1928–41. (1971).
  • Epstein, Gerald and Thomas Ferguson. "Monetary Policy, Loan Liquidation and Industrial Conflict: Federal Reserve System Open Market Operations in 1932". Journal of Economic History 44 (December 1984): 957–84. in JSTOR
  • Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960 (1963)
  • G. Edward Griffin
    G. Edward Griffin
    G. Edward Griffin is an American film producer, author, and political lecturer. He is perhaps best known as the author of The Creature from Jekyll Island , a critique of much modern economic theory and practice, specifically the Federal Reserve System.Starting as a child actor, he became a radio...

    , The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve (1994) ISBN 0-912986-21-2
  • Paul J. Kubik, "Federal Reserve Policy during the Great Depression: The Impact of Interwar Attitudes regarding Consumption and Consumer Credit". Journal of Economic Issues. Volume: 30. Issue: 3. Publication Year: 1996. pp 829+.
  • Link, Arthur. Wilson: The New Freedom (1956) pp 199–240.
  • Livingston, James. Origins of the Federal Reserve System: Money, Class, and Corporate Capitalism, 1890–1913 (1986), Marxist approach to 1913 policy
  • Mayhew, Anne. "Ideology and the Great Depression: Monetary History Rewritten". Journal of Economic Issues 17 (June 1983): 353–60.
  • Mullins, Eustace C. "Secrets of the Federal Reserve", 1952. John McLaughlin. ISBN 0-9656492-1-0
  • Roberts, Priscilla. "'Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?' The Federal Reserve System's Founding Fathers and Allied Finances in the First World War", Business History Review (1998) 72: 585–603
  • Bernard Shull, "The Fourth Branch: The Federal Reserve's Unlikely Rise to Power and Influence" (2005) ISBN 1-56720-624-7
  • Steindl, Frank G. Monetary Interpretations of the Great Depression. (1995).
  • Temin, Peter. Did Monetary Forces Cause the Great Depression? (1976).
  • Wells, Donald R. The Federal Reserve System: A History (2004)
  • West, Robert Craig. Banking Reform and the Federal Reserve, 1863–1923 (1977)
  • Wicker, Elmus. "A Reconsideration of Federal Reserve Policy during the 1920–1921 Depression", Journal of Economic History (1966) 26: 223–238, in JSTOR
  • Wicker, Elmus. Federal Reserve Monetary Policy, 1917–33. (1966).
  • Wicker, Elmus. The Great Debate on Banking Reform: Nelson Aldrich and the Origins of the Fed Ohio State University Press, 2005.
  • Wood, John H. A History of Central Banking in Great Britain and the United States (2005)
  • Wueschner; Silvano A. Charting Twentieth-Century Monetary Policy: Herbert Hoover and Benjamin Strong, 1917–1927 Greenwood Press. (1999)

Official Federal Reserve websites and information


Open Market operations


Repurchase agreements


Discount window


Economic indicators


Federal Reserve publications


Other websites describing the Federal Reserve


Sites critical of the Federal Reserve

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