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There are a number of agencies assigned to regulate and oversee financial institutions and financial markets, including the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Each agency has specific responsibilities, allowing them to function independently. Though the effectiveness and efficiency with which these regulatory entities manage financial institutions is sometimes questioned, each was formed to help achieve the overall goal of providing sensible regulation of markets and protection for investors and consumers.

The Federal Reserve Board

Probably the most well-known of all the regulatory agencies is the FRB. This agency is responsible for exacting influence on liquidity and overall credit conditions. Its primary monetary policy tool is open market operations that control the buying and selling of U.S. Treasury and federal agency securities. Such purchases and sales determine the federal funds rates and alter the level of reserves available. The FRB is also responsible for primary regulation and supervision of the U.S. banking system, which in turn provides overall economic financial stability in the United States.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

The FDIC is a U.S. government corporation created by the Banking Act of 1933 in the wake of the Great Depression. This agency provides deposit insurance, which guarantees depositor accounts' safety, up to $250,000, in any of its member banks. As of 2014, the FDIC insured deposits at over 6,500 institutions.

This agency is also responsible for analyzing and supervising the safety and stability of financial institutions, performing consumer protection functions and managing failed banks. The FDIC is funded by the premiums paid by banks and thrift institutions for deposit insurance coverage and by the earnings generated from investments in U.S. Treasury debt securities.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is among the oldest of all the federal regulatory agencies, established in 1863 by the Currency Act. The OCC primarily functions to regulate, supervise and offer charters to banks that operate in the U.S. These functions help to ensure the overall stability and safety of the U.S. banking system.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission

In 1974, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was created as an independent regulator of commodity futures and options markets. This agency provides efficient and competitive futures markets, and protects traders from market manipulation and other fraudulent trading practices. In 2000, the agency combined with the SEC, the overall supervisory agency of stock exchange trading, to help regulate single stock futures.

The Securities and Exchange Commission

The SEC was established in 1934 by the Securities Exchange Act and is among the most powerful and comprehensive financial regulatory agencies. The SEC enforces federal securities laws and regulates a large portion of the securities industry, including the U.S. stock exchanges and options markets.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a regulatory agency that oversees all finance-related products and services provided to consumers. This agency is segmented into a variety of different units, including the Office of Fair Lending, consumer complaints, research and community affairs. The CFPB's ultimate goal is to educate consumers about financial products and services that are available to them, and to provide another level of consumer protection through its oversight of financial services.

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