What Is the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis?

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is one of 12 reserve banks in the Federal Reserve System (FRS). It is responsible for the eighth district, which covers Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. In addition to its headquarters in St. Louis, the bank has branch offices in Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis.

The St. Louis Fed also maintains the Federal Reserve Economic Database.

Key Takeaways

  • The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is one of twelve reserve banks in the Federal Reserve System. 
  • Its territory covers Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.
  • The St. Louis Fed has been a strong advocate of monetarism, which is the belief that central banks should direct monetary policy primarily to counteract inflation.
  • The St. Louis Fed is home to the Inside the Economy Museum.

Understanding Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 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). Users can download, graph, and track more than 767,000 US and international time series from more than 100 sources.  A wide variety of financial and macroeconomic data are available, such as CPI, inflation, unemployment numbers, Treasury yields, and Fed balance sheet and government account data. 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 serves on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) on a one-year rotating basis. The FOMC meets eight times per year to review interest rates.

James Bullard is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He took office on April 1, 2008. Bullard is 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 in downtown St. Louis is home to the Inside the Economy Museum, an award-winning interactive exhibit that introduces and explains fundamentals of the economy to average citizens and high school students.

Bank notes printed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis are marked with the letter H representing the eighth district. H is also the eighth letter of the alphabet.