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Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
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Informing the public about the Federal Reserve

What is the purpose of the Federal Reserve System?

The Federal Reserve System, often referred to as the Federal Reserve or simply "the Fed," is the central bank of the United States. It was created by the Congress to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system. The Federal Reserve was created on December 23, 1913, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law. Today, the Federal Reserve's responsibilities fall into four general areas.

  • 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 banks and other important financial 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 U.S. government, U.S. financial institutions, and foreign official institutions, and playing a major role in operating and overseeing the nation's payments systems.

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Last update: February 4, 2014