Federal Reserve System

Whether you call 'em notes, stacks, greenbacks, dead presidents, papers, scrilla, loot, bones, or dough, it's all just chump change to the Federal Reserve. The Fed, as it’s known on the street, currently sits on over $11 billion in gold reserves and $176 billion in uncirculated bills. Not to mention the over one trillion dollars currently in circulation in the U.S. and the world.

When Fed employees are not busy in the counting house, they're busy monitoring and regulating the money supply in pursuit of full employment, stable prices, and a safe and secure lending environment. No pressure, guys. The Fed got all these responsibilities in 1913 following a series of financial panics that seemed to hit America at least once a generation. Over the years, as new problems have arisen and more bubbles have burst, new legislation (like the Banking Act of 1935, Employment Act of 1946, and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, just to name a few) have emerged to clarify and broaden the Fed’s duties.

Today, the Federal Reserve not only oversees conducts monetary policy, but also regulates banks and significant financial institutions, works to protect the credit rights of consumers, and keeps tabs on systemic risk and volatility in financial markets. The Fed is headed by a President-appointed Chairman, governed by a 12-member committee (including the five-member Board of Governors), and organized into 12 regional banks. The Fed also plays a major role in managing the nation's payment systems. The Reserve Banks in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco might be sitting on a hefty stack of reserve coins and cash, but they also hold a small portion of the national debt, and borrow and lend securities from and to foreign central banks.

This tidbit might come in useful at your local trivia night: the average lifespan of Federal Reserve chairmen is roughly four years. The average lifespan of a $100 bill? Nearly eighteen years.

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