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 Commonwealth of 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, the SF Fed also has branch offices in Los Angeles. Portland, Ore., Seattle, and Salt Lake City.

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, Ore., 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 monitoring economic growth and inflation, which is the pace of rising prices. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is part of the Federal System, which is charged with the following tasks:

  • Use the tools of monetary policy to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and to manage long-term interest rates in the economy
  • Regulating the banks within its territory and promote the safety and soundness of financial institutions while monitoring how banks impact the overall financial system
  • Supporting the U.S. central bank’s mission to maintain the stability of the financial system, foster payment, and settlement system safety and efficiency
  • Promoting 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 one-year terms on a rotating basis.

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Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2020

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.

Mary C. Daly took office on Oct. 1, 2018, as president and chief executive officer of the 12th District, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In 2021, Ms. Daly serves on 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.