Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve
Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve, the Fed)
The central bank of the US. The Fed was established under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and consists of:
• 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks of which the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) is the most prominent.
• The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). This committee, composed of 12 members, oversees open market operations (the setting of monetary policy by controlling the money supply through the sale and purchase of securities and other financial instruments).
• The Member Banks. National banks must join the Fed. State chartered banks have the option of becoming members of the Fed if they meet the admission standards established by the FRB. Member banks own stock in the Federal Reserve Bank in their region and receive dividends but do not have any control over its activities, policies or hold a financial interest in these banks. This stock may not be sold or pledged as collateral.
The Fed is an independent institution of the government and its decisions do not have to be ratified by the President. These decision are, however, subject to Congressional oversight and must work within the government's economic and financial policy objectives.
The Federal Reserve System has four general duties:
• Conducting the nation's monetary policy by influencing money and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of full employment and stable prices.
• Supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation's banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers.
• Maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets.
• Providing certain financial services to the US government, public, financial institutions and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payments systems.
The Fed does not rely on funding from the government. Its income is derived primarily from:
• Interest on US government securities it has acquired through its open market operations.
• Interest on foreign currency investment.
• Interest on loans to depository institutions.
• Fees received for services rendered to depository institutions such as check clearing, funds transfers and automated clearinghouse operations.
The Fed remits to the US Department of the Treasury all income earned after paying its expenses.

Practical Law Dictionary. Glossary of UK, US and international legal terms. . 2010.

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