What Is the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis?

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is is one of 12 Federal Reserve Banks, and is responsible for the eighth district in the U.S. Its territory includes parts of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as the entire state of Arkansas. The bank has branch offices in Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis.

The St. Louis Fed is also responsible for maintaining the Federal Reserve Economic Database (FRED).

Key Takeaways

  • The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis comprises one of twelve reserve banks in the Federal Reserve System. 
  • The St. Louis Fed serves the Eighth Federal Reserve District, which covers the state of Arkansas; 44 counties in southern Illinois; 24 counties in southern Indiana; 64 counties in western Kentucky; 39 counties in northern Mississippi; 71 counties in central and eastern Missouri; the city of St. Louis; and 21 counties in western Tennessee.
  • Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, branch office are located in Little Rock, AK; Louisville, KY; and Memphis, TN.
  • The St. Louis Fed maintains the FRED economic database portal and hosts the National Economy Museum.

Understanding Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, one of 12 reserve banks within the federal reserve system, is responsible for executing the central bank's monetary policy by reviewing price inflation and economic growth, and by regulating the banks, bank holding companies, and savings and loan holding companies within its territory. It provides cash to banks within its district, and monitors electronic deposits. In addition, the bank’s Community Development Advisory Council works with local communities to improve credit access, limit foreclosures and revitalize neighborhoods.

Because of its location in the American heartland, the St. Louis Fed promotes itself as representing the interests of “Main Street America” rather than Wall Street or Washington. As such, its research and reports tend to focus on how monetary policy affects citizens who live and work outside major centers of banking and finance. In the 1960s, under the influence of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman and the bank’s noted research director Homer Jones, the St. Louis Fed became the first to espouse the concept of monetarism, arguing that central banks should direct monetary policy primarily to counteract inflation. At that time, monetarism was considered a fringe theory, but it is now accepted practice.

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Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2020

Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED)

The St. Louis Fed hosts and maintains the federal reserve economic database (FRED), a web-based portal accessible by the public. From the FRED platform, people can download, graph, and track more than 763,000 US and international time series from 94 sources. Time series include all sorts of financial and macroeconomic data from CPI and inflation to unemployment to Treasury yield to facets of the Fed's balance sheet and government accounts. FRED data can also be imported directly into Excel for analysis.

St. Louis Fed and the FOMC

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, along with the presidents of the other 11 banks and the seven governors of the Federal Reserve Board, meet to set interest rates every six weeks. This is referred to as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The current president of the St. Louis Fed is Dr. James B. Bullard, an economist and an adjunct professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis, who many know for his research work in economic theory and monetary policy.

Inside the Economy Museum

The headquarters of the bank in downtown St. Louis also contains the Inside the Economy Museum, an award-winning interactive exhibit space that introduces and explains fundamentals of the economy to average citizens and high school students.

One-dollar bank notes printed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis are denoted by the letter H representing the eighth district; H is also the 8th letter of the alphabet.