1. The Federal Reserve: Introduction
  2. The Federal Reserve: What Is The Fed?
  3. The Federal Reserve: Duties
  4. The Federal Reserve: Monetary Policy
  5. The Federal Reserve: The FOMC Rate Meeting
  6. The Federal Reserve: Conclusion

The Federal Reserve was created by the U.S. Congress in 1913. Before that, the U.S. lacked any formal organization for studying and implementing monetary policy. Consequently markets were often unstable and the public had very little faith in the banking system. The Fed is an independent entity, but is subject to oversight from Congress. Basically, this means that decisions do not have to be ratified by the President or anyone else in the government, but Congress periodically reviews the Fed's activities.

The Fed is headed by a government agency in Washington known as the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The Board of Governors consists of seven presidential appointees, each of whom serves 14 year terms. All members must be confirmed by the Senate and can be reappointed. The board is led by a chairman and a vice chairman, each appointed by the President and approved by the Senate for four-year terms. The current chair is Janet Yellen, who took over for Ben Bernanke on February 3, 2014.

There are 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks located in major cities around the country that operate under the supervision of the Board of Governors. Reserve Banks act as the operating arm of the central bank and do most of the work of the Fed. The banks generate their own income from four main sources:

  • Services provided to banks
  • Interest earned on government securities acquired while carrying out the work of the Federal Reserve
  • Income from foreign currency held
  • Interest on loans to depository institutions

The income gathered from these activities is used to finance day to day operations, including information gathering and economic research. Any excess income is funneled back into the U.S. Treasury.

The system also includes the Federal Open Market Committee, better known as the FOMC. This is the policy-making branch of the Federal Reserve. Traditionally, the chair of the board is also selected as the chair of the FOMC. The voting members of the FOMC are the seven members of the Board of Governors, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and presidents of four other Reserve Banks who serve on a one-year rotating basis. All Reserve Bank presidents participate in FOMC policy discussions whether they are voting members or not. The FOMC makes the important decisions on interest rates and other monetary policies. This is the reason why they get most of the attention in the media. We'll talk about the FOMC in detail later.

Finally, all national banks and some state-chartered banks are part of the Federal Reserve System. They are referred to as member banks.


The Federal Reserve: Duties
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    What are the Federal Reserve Chairman's responsibilities?

    Learn about the duties and responsibilities of the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, including testifying before Congress and as chair of the FOMC.
  2. Investing

    What's the Salary of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve?

    The chairman of the Federal Reserve oversees the U.S. banking system.
  3. Insights

    What Do the Federal Reserve Banks Do?

    These 12 regional banks are involved with four general tasks: formulate monetary policy, supervise financial institutions, facilitate government policy and provide payment services.
  4. Investing

    How The U.S. Government Formulates Monetary Policy

    Learn about the tools the Fed uses to influence interest rates and general economic conditions.
  5. Trading

    Explaining the Federal Reserve System

    The Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States. It regulates monetary policy and supervises the nation’s banking system.
  6. Insights

    A Fed Insider on Trump Era: What to Hope For, What to Expect

    Trump has everyone guessing with two open Fed seats and conflicting statements on monetary policy.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. I'm about to retire. If I pay off my mortgage with after-tax money I have saved, I can save 6.5%. Should I do this?

    Only you and your financial advisor, family, accountant, etc. can answer the "should I?" question because there are many ...
  2. My wife and I both converted our Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs over a decade ago and have invested the maximum allowed each year since. We're buying our first home soon. Do we both qualify for one-time, tax-free, $10,000 distributions?

    You and your spouse each qualify for a penalty-free distribution of up to $10,000 for the purchase, acquisition or construction ...
  3. Is a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) a qualified retirement plan?

    Take advantage of the government's retirement plan for employees with the Thrift Savings Plan. As with a 401(k), contributions ...
  4. Who manages the assets in a Roth 401(k) account?

    Learn how to personally manage the assets in your Roth 401(k) plan and determine the best options available to help meet ...
Trading Center