What Is the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco?

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is one of 12 reserve banks in the Federal Reserve System (FRS). The bank is responsible for the twelfth district, whose territory includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. It is also responsible for American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco comprises one of twelve reserve banks in the Federal Reserve System. 
  • The San Francisco Fed serves the Twelfth Federal Reserve District, which covers the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, and serves American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, the SF Fed also as branch offices in LA, Portland OR, Seattle WA, and Salt Lake City UT.

Understanding the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco oversees the most states (nine) of any reserve bank and maintains branch offices in Los Angeles, Portland, Salt Lake City and Seattle. It is the largest reserve bank by geography and size of the economy it serves. According to the bank’s website, the twelfth district is home to one fifth of the U.S. population. 

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is responsible for executing the central bank's monetary policy by reviewing price inflation and economic growth and by regulating the banks within its territory. In addition, as outlined on the Federal Reserve website, it supports the U.S. central bank’s mission to maintain the stability of the financial system, foster payment and settlement system safety and efficiency and promote consumer protection and community development.

Monetary policy is determined at the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings held eight times a year. The FOMC consists of 12 members, which include the seven Governors of the Federal Reserve Board, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and four of the other 11 Bank presidents who serve on a rotating basis. 

12th Federal District
12th Federal District.

Characteristics and Organization

After the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the San Francisco Fed is considered the most influential of the 12 reserve banks. Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen served as president of the San Francisco Fed for six years prior to becoming Fed Vice Chair and then leading the Federal Reserve from 2014-2018. In May 2018, San Francisco Fed President John C. Williams was named President of the New York Fed, creating a vacancy in San Francisco. Williams previously served on the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Bill Clinton.

Mary C. Daly took office on October 1, 2018, as president and chief executive officer of the 12th District, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In 2020, she serves as an alternate voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee.

As with all reserve banks, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has a nine-member board of directors, six of which are elected by member banks in the district and the remaining three appointed by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors or the reserve bank itself.

Every bank has its own research staff which is responsible for conducting and published academic-level economic research related to Fed policy. The San Francisco Fed maintains specialized research centers focused on economic research and community development. It also operates the Center for Pacific Basin Studies, which facilitates communication and research on monetary and economic policy among central banks in the Pacific region.