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5 Functions of Federal Reserve Banks

By    |   Wednesday, 15 July 2015 12:19 PM

The Federal Reserve, the congressionally created central bank of the United States, consists of a home base in Washington, D.C., and 12 Federal Reserve banks, or districts, that carry out Fed functions throughout the country.

The 12 district banks are headquartered in cities including Dallas, New York, Richmond, Chicago and San Francisco, and they encompass 24 individual Federal Reserve bank branches located in cities, including Denver, Omaha, Little Rock and Baltimore.

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What do these 12 regional mini-Feds do? Here's a primer.

1. Holdings
The Reserve Banks hold money for commercial banks, which are required by federal law to set aside a percentage of their assets — a reserve —to prove they can meet their obligations. The Reserve Banks also keep tabs on the local banks and depository institutions in their orbit to make sure they're financially sound.

2. Banking Services
They provide very basic and familiar banking services. "We process checks, wire transfers and ACH (automated clearing house) payments, and distribute coin and currency," Thomas C. Melzer wrote when he was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "We also act as banker to the U.S. Treasury."

3. Economic Information
They are the source of the information in the Fed's Beige Book, an economic climate summary published eight times per year (in a beige-colored cover) that "generally consists of reports from [Fed] bank and branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources," CNBC explained.

4. Resources
Federal Reserve Districts act as facilitators and information clearinghouses in their regions. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, for example, maintains a Small Business and Entrepreneurship Resource Center compiling locally relevant publications, data and events. The Federal Reserve banks of New York, Atlanta, Cleveland and Philadelphia collaborate every year on the Joint Small Business Credit Survey Report on the state of lending to small businesses across 10 states.

5. Regional Distinction
Federal Reserve Districts exist in part because banks and other financial institutions differ from place to place. They operate under different state laws, and serve different types of businesses. Having a regional presence is an acknowledgement that the needs, customs, culture and economics of banking aren't necessarily the same in the Midwest as they are in, say, New York.

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The Federal Reserve, the congressionally created central bank of the United States, consists of a home base in Washington, D.C., and 12 Federal Reserve banks, or districts, that carry out Fed functions throughout the country.
Federal Reserve, banks, functions
403
2015-19-15
Wednesday, 15 July 2015 12:19 PM
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