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The Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States. As the nation's central bank, it performs five key functions in the public interest to promote the health of the U.S. economy and the stability of the U.S. financial system.

"Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws" booklet issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, January 1979 (via <a href="">FRASER</a>)
Consumers and Communities

The Federal Reserve advances supervision, community reinvestment, and research to improve understanding of the impacts of financial services policies and practices on consumers and communities.

<p>The First National Bank Building First National Bank Building, also known as the Old Monroe County Savings Bank Building (Image&nbsp;<a>LC-DIG-highsm-52790</a> via Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)</p>
Supervision & Regulation

The Federal Reserve promotes the safety and soundness of individual financial institutions and monitors their impact on the financial system as a whole.

<p>Annual report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 1966 (via <a href="">FRASER</a>)</p>
Economic Expansions

Economic expansions are characterized by growing employment and economic output

<p>Chair Janet Yellen presents the Monetary Policy Report to the Congress, July 15, 2014 (via the <a href="">Board of Governors flickr</a>)</p>
Fed Governance

Though Congress specifies the goals for monetary policy, it established the Federal Reserve as an independent agency to ensure that its decisions are based on facts and objective analysis and serve the best interests of all Americans.

<p>Liberty Loan poster, 1917 (Image courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Archives)<br></p>
The Fed in Wartime

World War I and World War II strongly shaped Fed policy and actions.

<p>1914 map of the Federal Reserve System and District borders, from the "Decision of the&nbsp;Reserve Bank Organization&nbsp;Committee"&nbsp;</p>
The Fed's Structure

The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 called for a central banking system with a central governing Board and a decentralized operating structure of multiple Reserve Banks. This hybrid structure is still in place today.

<p>The Panic - Run on the Fourth National Bank, No. 20 Nassau Street [New York City, 1873]. (Image&nbsp;LC-USZ6-952 via<a href=""> Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division</a>)<br></p>
Financial Stability

The Federal Reserve monitors financial system risks and engages at home and abroad to help ensure the system supports a healthy economy for U.S. households, communities, and businesses.

<p>Customers buying up tea before the price rise, Brisbane,&nbsp;Australia, 1954 (via <a href=",_Brisbane,_1954.jpg">Wikimedia Commons</a>)</p>

One part of the Fed's dual mandate is price stability. Price stability means that inflation remains low and stable over the longer run.

<p>From a 1945 U.S. Treasury report (<a href="">via FRASER</a>)</p>
International Events

International events have shaped the American economy and Fed policy.

<p>Federal Reserve Financial Services logo, 1992 (via <a href="">FRASER</a>)</p>
Payment Systems

The Federal Reserve works to promote a safe, efficient, and accessible system for U.S. dollar transactions.

<p>Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone, 1931 (U.S. Information Agency&nbsp;via <a href=",_02-1931_-_NARA_-_541927.jpg">Wikimedia Commons</a>)</p>
Recessions and Depressions

Economic downturns in American history have ranged from mild recessions to severe depressions.

<p>Jimmy Carter signs the Humphrey-Hawkins Bill, October 27, 1978 (via Jimmy Carter Library and National Archives and Records Administration, <a href="">NAID 182117</a>)&nbsp;</p>

Various pieces of legislation have shaped the Fed’s structure and policy mandates.

<p>A $3 continental bill, c. 1776 (via <a href="">Museum of the American Revolution</a>)&nbsp;</p>
The Road to the Fed

The Federal Reserve System was established in 1913 in reaction to a history of financial instability and other economic challenges.

Bernie Berns hands paper through the Credit window on the first floor of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 1967 (via <a href="">FRASER</a>)
Monetary Policy

The Federal Reserve sets U.S. monetary policy to promote maximum employment and stable prices in the U.S. economy.