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FOMC participants gather in the Board room at the Eccles Building in Washington, D.C., March 2014.

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


A bread line at Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York City, during the Great Depression
Great Depression

The worst downturn in U.S. history lasted from 1929 to 1941

President Harry Truman meets with George Marshall, Economic Cooperation Administration chief Paul Hoffman, and ECA roving ambassador W. Averell Harriman to discuss the Marshall Plan.
WWII and After

The Fed pegged interest rates at a low level during WWII and enforced the peg after the war ended

Two men carry the Lehman Brother’s corporate sign to an auction house in London.
Support for Specific Institutions

The failures of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and the bailout of AIG occurred in 2008

Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, pauses during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008. Bernanke said lending conditions in the U.S. are still "far from normal."
Fed Credit Programs

The Fed introduced various credit programs to deal with the 2007-09 financial crisis

A sign advertising refinancing services is posted in a vacant lot April 29, 2008, in Stockton, California.
Subprime Mortgage Crisis

The 2007-10 crisis stemmed in part from an expansion of mortgages to high-risk borrowers

Job seekers line up to apply for positions at an American Apparel store April 2, 2009, in New York City.
Great Recession and After

The deep, protracted downturn in 2007-09 was followed by an unusually slow recovery

Jim Leach, R-Iowa, Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and Thomas J. Bliley Jr., R-Va., during a press conference on their compromise bill.
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

The 1999 Act promoted financial integration by repealing parts of the Glass-Steagall Act while giving the Fed new supervisory powers

A South Korean labor union member of Seoulbank, one of South Korea's most bad-debt burdened commercial banks, looks downcast.
Asian Financial Crisis

A financial crisis started in Thailand in July 1997 and spread across East Asia

Composite of newspaper headlines reporting the Stock Market Crash of 1987
Crash of 1987

The Dow dropped 22.6 percent on Black Monday, October 19, 1987

Federal Reserve Board Chairs Ben Bernanke, Paul Volcker, and Alan Greenspan.
Great Moderation

This period of relative macroeconomic stability lasted from the mid-1980s to 2007

Unemployed Chicagoans line up to apply for insurance at the Bureau of Unemployment, 1981.
Recession of 1981-82

This economic downturn was triggered by tight monetary policy in an effort to fight inflation

Paul Volcker prior to appearing on the Senate Banking Committee Panel in 1979
Fed’s Anti-Inflation Actions

In 1979, Fed Chairman Paul Volcker announced new anti-inflation measures

Senator Muriel Humphrey shakes hands with President Jimmy Carter after the signing of the Humphrey-Hawkins Act
Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act

Commonly called Humphrey-Hawkins, the 1978 Act set new goals for the nation’s economic policymakers

May 9, 1979: Cars line up outside a filling station on the first day of gas rationing imposed on nine California counties following the revolution in Iran that caused a shortage of crude oil.
Oil Shock of 1978-79

The second oil shock of the 1970s was associated with events in the Middle East

Fed Chairman Arthur Burns (left) with President Jimmy Carter, future Fed Chairman G. William Miller, and Miller's wife Ariadna Miller 
Federal Reserve Reform Act

This 1977 law was instrumental in shaping the current Fed

Sign reading "Gas shortage! Sales limited to 10 gallons of gas per customer" posted at a Connecticut filling station during the energy crisis
Oil Shock of 1973-74

An oil embargo in the early 1970s complicated the U.S. macroeconomic environment

President Nixon prepares to announce new economic policies on a television broadcast.
Gold Convertibility Ends

President Nixon's 1971 economic plan, sometimes referred to as "Nixonomics," ended gold convertibility and imposed wage and price controls

Close-up of a "Whip Inflation Now" [WIN] button, President Ford's symbol of the fight against inflation.
Great Inflation

The defining macroeconomic period of the second half of the 20th century lasted from 1965 to 1982

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. speaks at the conference which established the International Monetary Fund.
Bretton Woods Launched

The international currency system became operational in 1958

William McChesney Martin Jr. is sworn in as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors
Treasury-Fed Accord

The 1951 agreement that laid the foundation for the modern Federal Reserve

President Harry Truman Signs Employment Act of 1946
Employment Act

President Truman signed the Act in 1946 in the aftermath of WWII

War bond rally to buy bonds, February 1944.
WWII and Its Aftermath

Monetary policy fundamentally changed during the period of 1941 to 1951

U.S. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall and British Admiral Sir Dudley Pound talk at luncheon held for British and American naval chiefs at the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C., January 17, 1942
Fed's Role During WWII

The Federal Reserve supported the war effort in several ways

Men wearing sandwich boards reading "I voted for ham and eggs" and "I believed the banks" walk down a Los Angeles street, Oct. 24, 1938. 
Recession of 1937-38

America’s third-worst downturn of the 20th century

President Roosevelt chats with various politicians and administration officials as he signs the Banking Act of 1935.
Banking Act of 1935

This legislation restructured the Fed in both cosmetic and consequential ways

President Roosevelt signs the Gold Reserve Act
Gold Reserve Act

The 1934 law was the culmination of FDR’s controversial gold program

Roy A. Young of the Boston Fed tells the Senate banking committee on January 19, 1933 that President Roosevelts gold plan would be helpful in reaching currency stabilization.
Roosevelt’s Gold Program

The controversial and consequential policies of FDR regarding gold and dollars

President Franklin Roosevelt signing the Emergency Banking Act
Emergency Banking Act

The 1933 law was aimed at restoring public confidence in the nation’s financial system

The crowd outside of the East New York Savings Bank during the run on that bank, November 24, 1933
Banking Panics of 1931-33

Earlier regional banking panics turned into a nationwide financial crisis in fall 1931

<p>John Poole, president of the Federal American National Bank in Washington, D.C., stands on a&nbsp;narrow ledge outside the building and declares to the crowd that the institution was sound, February 5, 1931.&nbsp;</p>
Banking Panics of 1930-31

The U.S. appeared to be poised for economic recovery when a series of bank panics began in fall 1930

Crowd in front of the New York Stock Exchange, October 1929
Crash of 1929

On October 28, 1929, the Dow declined nearly 13 percent