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Federal Reserve

Headquarters: 20th Street and Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20551
Phone: 202-452-3000
Employees: 20,217
Chair: Janet Yellen

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The Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States. It was founded by Congress in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system. Over the years, its role in banking and the economy has greatly expanded.

The Federal Reserve is made up of 12 regional banks known as districts:

1st District--Boston
2nd District--New York
3rd District--Philadelphia
4th District--Cleveland
5th District--Richmond
6th District--Atlanta
7th District--Chicago
8th District--St. Louis
9th District--Minneapolis
10th District--Kansas City
11th District--Dallas
12th District--San Francisco

The Board of Governors, located in Washington, D.C., consists of seven members appointed by the President of the United States and supported by a 2,540-person staff. Besides conducting research, analysis, and policymaking related to domestic and international financial and economic matters, the Board plays a major role in the supervision and regulation of U.S. financial institutions and activities, has broad oversight responsibility for the nation's payments system and the operations and activities of the Federal Reserve Banks, and plays an important role in promoting consumer protection, fair lending, and community development.

The Reserve is an independent entity of the government and the regional banks are operated like private corporations with shares of stock issued to member banks.

The Federal Reserve's duties fall into four general areas:

1. Conducting the nation's monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates
2. 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
3. Maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets
4. Providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payments system

Janet Yellen was sworn in as the new Chair on February 3, 2014 replacing Ben Bernanke. She is the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve and will serve a four-year term.

The Federal Reserve's income is derived primarily from the interest on U.S. government securities that it has acquired through open market operations. Other sources of income are the interest on foreign currency investments held by the System; fees received for services provided to depository institutions, such as check clearing, funds transfers, and automated clearinghouse operations; and interest on loans to depository institutions (the rate on which is the so-called discount rate). After paying its expenses, the Federal Reserve turns the rest of its earnings over to the U.S. Treasury.

According to the 2012 Annual Report, there were 17,724 employees at the 12 member banks. New York had the largest employment with 3,124 workers followed by Atlanta at 1,563. Total annual salaries at the 12 banks were $1.64 billion in 2012.

Employees of the Federal Reserve Banks are not government employees. They are paid as part of the expenses of their employing Reserve Bank. Employees at banks can receive annual bonuses based on the bank's performance.

Updated February 9, 2014