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Marriner S. Eccles building, October 20, 1937
The Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States. Founded by an act of Congress in 1913, the Federal Reserve’s primary purpose was to enhance the stability of the American banking system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Reserve Board Chairman William McChesney Martin, pictured beside President Lyndon Johnson, discusses the Board’s action on raising the discount rate at a December 1965 news conference.
After the Accord

The Fed used its newly gained independence to create a new kind of monetary regime

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

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

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

Front row, L-R: Charles Hamlin, William McAdoo, Frederic Delano. Back row, L-R: Paul Warburg, John Skelton Williams, W.P.G. Harding, A.C. Miller.
The Fed's Formative Years

The Fed came into its own in the two decades following the signing of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913

1982 photograph of Monticello entry hall with facing busts of Jefferson and Hamilton
Before the Fed

U.S. monetary and banking policy before the creation of the Fed