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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Structure and Functions of the Federal Reserve System

Pauline Smale
Analyst in Financial Economics

In 1913, Congress created the Federal Reserve System to serve as the central bank for the United States. The Federal Reserve formulates the nation's monetary policy, supervises and regulates banks, and provides a variety of financial services to depository financial institutions and the federal government. The System comprises three major components, the Board of Governors, a network of 12 Federal Reserve Banks, and member banks. 

Congress created the Federal Reserve as an independent agency to enable the central bank to carry out its responsibilities protected from excessive political and private pressures. At the same time, by law and practice, the Federal Reserve is accountable to Congress. The seven members of the board are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Congress routinely monitors the Federal Reserve System through formal and informal oversight activities. 

This report examines the structure and operations of the major components of the Federal Reserve System and provides an overview of congressional oversight activities. In addition, the report discusses the provisions of one of the pending pieces of legislation (S. 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010) that would affect the structure and operations of the System.

Date of Report: May 4, 2010
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RS20826
Price: $29.95

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