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The Fed Tells All
By
Volume 40, Number 4 - July/August 2016

So you want to learn more about monetary policy, banking, consumer finance, community development, the U.S. economy, how to teach about these things, or even more?! Well, the Federal Reserve System websites are a great place to start.

While doing a column on FRASER (the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s highly accessible and informative website) for the Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research (For the Common Good: “Federal Re serve Archival System for Economic Research (FRASER),” Vol. 27, No. 8, October 2015, p. 7), it made my editor and me wonder, “Why just St. Louis? What are the other Fed banks doing in the way of educating the public? Do the other Fed Districts have some similar sites to offer and explore?” This article is a result of those inquiries.

The Federal Reserve System

Just a quick overview of the Federal Reserve System. It was created by the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. It consists of a seven-member Board of Governors with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 12 District Reserve Banks. The first Board of Governors of the System was sworn in on Aug. 10, 1914. The System was created in response to recurring banking crises and financial disruptions, including the dras tic panic of 1907. It was felt that a central bank was needed to coordinate monetary policy and banking regulation throughout the country.

The 12 district banks are located in Atlanta; Boston; Chi ago; Cleveland; Dallas; Kansas City, Kan.; Minneapolis; New York; Philadelphia; Richmond, Va.; San Francisco; and St. Louis. Curious as to why those cities were chosen, I used the History section of the main Federal Reserve website (federalreserve.gov) to learn more. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 called for no less than eight nor more than 12 cities that would divide the country, excluding Alaska, into these districts (federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/section2.htm).

The Board of Governors main office is located in Washington, D.C. With a bit of digging, I retrieved a wonderful Government Publishing (then Printing) Office (GPO) document from 1914 titled “Location of Reserve Districts in the United States: Letter From the Reserve Bank Organization Committee, Transmitting the Briefs and Arguments Presented to the Organization Committee of the Federal Reserve Board, Relative to the Location of Reserve Districts in the United States” (fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/historical/federal%20reserve%20history/rboc_locationdistricts.pdf).

Today, the District Banks not only watch over their regions, but feed data and opinions into the Board of Governors. The governance of each district includes a board of directors and a president and first vice president appointed by their board, with approval from the Federal Board of Governors. For more about the structure go to federalreserveeducation.org/about-the-fed/structure-and-functions.

Although each regional bank’s mission statement echoes the national mission of fostering “the stability, integrity and efficiency of the nation’s monetary, financial and payment systems in order to promote optimal macroeconomic performance,” some of the regions have developed unique responsibilities and products. This article can serve as a guidepost for those with particular inquiries into the financial situation of the United States or their particular regions of interest.


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Susan Fingerman is mostly retired but is keeping her hand in as an online librarian with the American Public University System (APUS.edu). She also writes the For the Common Good column published five times a year in the Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research.

 

Comments? Contact the editors at editors@onlinesearcher.net

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