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Introduction to Business

15.2 The Federal Reserve System

Introduction to Business15.2 The Federal Reserve System

Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Understanding Economic Systems and Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 The Nature of Business
    3. 1.2 Understanding the Business Environment
    4. 1.3 How Business and Economics Work
    5. 1.4 Macroeconomics: The Big Picture
    6. 1.5 Achieving Macroeconomic Goals
    7. 1.6 Microeconomics: Zeroing in on Businesses and Consumers
    8. 1.7 Competing in a Free Market
    9. 1.8 Trends in the Business Environment and Competition
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  3. 2 Making Ethical Decisions and Managing a Socially Responsible Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Understanding Business Ethics
    3. 2.2 How Organizations Influence Ethical Conduct
    4. 2.3 Managing a Socially Responsible Business
    5. 2.4 Responsibilities to Stakeholders
    6. 2.5 Trends in Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    10. Ethics Activity
    11. Working the Net
    12. Critical Thinking Case
    13. Hot Links Address Book
  4. 3 Competing in the Global Marketplace
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 Global Trade in the United States
    3. 3.2 Why Nations Trade
    4. 3.3 Barriers to Trade
    5. 3.4 Fostering Global Trade
    6. 3.5 International Economic Communities
    7. 3.6 Participating in the Global Marketplace
    8. 3.7 Threats and Opportunities in the Global Marketplace
    9. 3.8 The Impact of Multinational Corporations
    10. 3.9 Trends in Global Competition
    11. Key Terms
    12. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    13. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    14. Ethics Activity
    15. Working the Net
    16. Critical Thinking Case
    17. Hot Links Address Book
  5. 4 Forms of Business Ownership
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Going It Alone: Sole Proprietorships
    3. 4.2 Partnerships: Sharing the Load
    4. 4.3 Corporations: Limiting Your Liability
    5. 4.4 Specialized Forms of Business Organization
    6. 4.5 Franchising: A Popular Trend
    7. 4.6 Mergers and Acquisitions
    8. 4.7 Trends in Business Ownership
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    12. Ethics Activity
    13. Working the Net
    14. Critical Thinking Case
    15. Hot Links Address Book
  6. 5 Entrepreneurship: Starting and Managing Your Own Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Entrepreneurship Today
    3. 5.2 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
    4. 5.3 Small Business: Driving America's Growth
    5. 5.4 Ready, Set, Start Your Own Business
    6. 5.5 Managing a Small Business
    7. 5.6 Small Business, Large Impact
    8. 5.7 The Small Business Administration
    9. 5.8 Trends in Entrepreneurship and Small-Business Ownership
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  7. 6 Management and Leadership in Today's Organizations
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 The Role of Management
    3. 6.2 Planning
    4. 6.3 Organizing
    5. 6.4 Leading, Guiding, and Motivating Others
    6. 6.5 Controlling
    7. 6.6 Managerial Roles
    8. 6.7 Managerial Skills
    9. 6.8 Trends in Management and Leadership
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  8. 7 Designing Organizational Structures
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Building Organizational Structures
    3. 7.2 Contemporary Structures
    4. 7.3 Using Teams to Enhance Motivation and Performance
    5. 7.4 Authority—Establishing Organizational Relationships
    6. 7.5 Degree of Centralization
    7. 7.6 Organizational Design Considerations
    8. 7.7 The Informal Organization
    9. 7.8 Trends in Organizational Structure
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  9. 8 Managing Human Resources and Labor Relations
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Achieving High Performance through Human Resources Management
    3. 8.2 Employee Recruitment
    4. 8.3 Employee Selection
    5. 8.4 Employee Training and Development
    6. 8.5 Performance Planning and Evaluation
    7. 8.6 Employee Compensation and Benefits
    8. 8.7 The Labor Relations Process
    9. 8.8 Managing Grievances and Conflicts
    10. 8.9 Legal Environment of Human Resources and Labor Relations
    11. 8.10 Trends in Human Resource Management and Labor Relations
    12. Key Terms
    13. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    14. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    15. Ethics Activity
    16. Working the Net
    17. Critical Thinking Case
    18. Hot Links Address Book
  10. 9 Motivating Employees
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Early Theories of Motivation
    3. 9.2 The Hawthorne Studies
    4. 9.3 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
    5. 9.4 McGregor's Theories X and Y
    6. 9.5 Herzberg's Motivator-Hygiene Theory
    7. 9.6 Contemporary Views on Motivation
    8. 9.7 From Motivation Theory to Application
    9. 9.8 Trends in Employee Motivation
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  11. 10 Achieving World-Class Operations Management
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Production and Operations Management—An Overview
    3. 10.2 The Production Process: How Do We Make It?
    4. 10.3 Location, Location, Location: Where Do We Make It?
    5. 10.4 Pulling It Together: Resource Planning
    6. 10.5 Production and Operations Control
    7. 10.6 Looking for a Better Way: Improving Production and Operations
    8. 10.7 Transforming the Factory Floor with Technology
    9. 10.8 Trends in Production and Operations Management
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  12. 11 Creating Products and Pricing Strategies to Meet Customers' Needs
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 The Marketing Concept
    3. 11.2 Creating a Marketing Strategy
    4. 11.3 Developing a Marketing Mix
    5. 11.4 Buyer Behavior
    6. 11.5 Market Segmentation
    7. 11.6 What Is a Product?
    8. 11.7 Creating Products That Deliver Value
    9. 11.8 The Product Life Cycle
    10. 11.9 Pricing Strategies and Future Trends
    11. 11.10 Trends in Developing Products and Pricing
    12. Key Terms
    13. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    14. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    15. Ethics Activity
    16. Working the Net
    17. Critical Thinking Case
    18. Hot Links Address Book
  13. 12 Distributing and Promoting Products and Services
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 The Nature and Functions of Distribution (Place)
    3. 12.2 Wholesaling
    4. 12.3 The Competitive World of Retailing
    5. 12.4 Using Supply Chain Management to Increase Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction
    6. 12.5 Promotion Strategy
    7. 12.6 The Huge Impact of Advertising
    8. 12.7 The Importance of Personal Selling
    9. 12.8 Sales Promotion
    10. 12.9 Public Relations Helps Build Goodwill
    11. 12.10 Trends in Social Media
    12. 12.11 Trends in E-Commerce
    13. Key Terms
    14. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    15. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    16. Ethics Activity
    17. Working the Net
    18. Critical Thinking Case
    19. Hot Links Address Book
  14. 13 Using Technology to Manage Information
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 Transforming Businesses through Information
    3. 13.2 Linking Up: Computer Networks
    4. 13.3 Management Information Systems
    5. 13.4 Technology Management and Planning
    6. 13.5 Protecting Computers and Information
    7. 13.6 Trends in Information Technology
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    11. Ethics Activity
    12. Working the Net
    13. Critical Thinking Case
    14. Hot Links Address Book
  15. 14 Using Financial Information and Accounting
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Accounting: More than Numbers
    3. 14.2 The Accounting Profession
    4. 14.3 Basic Accounting Procedures
    5. 14.4 The Balance Sheet
    6. 14.5 The Income Statement
    7. 14.6 The Statement of Cash Flows
    8. 14.7 Analyzing Financial Statements
    9. 14.8 Trends in Accounting
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  16. 15 Understanding Money and Financial Institutions
    1. Introduction
    2. 15.1 Show Me the Money
    3. 15.2 The Federal Reserve System
    4. 15.3 U.S. Financial Institutions
    5. 15.4 Insuring Bank Deposits
    6. 15.5 International Banking
    7. 15.6 Trends in Financial Institutions
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    11. Ethics Activity
    12. Working the Net
    13. Critical Thinking Case
    14. Hot Links Address Book
  17. 16 Understanding Financial Management and Securities Markets
    1. Introduction
    2. 16.1 The Role of Finance and the Financial Manager
    3. 16.2 How Organizations Use Funds
    4. 16.3 Obtaining Short-Term Financing
    5. 16.4 Raising Long-Term Financing
    6. 16.5 Equity Financing
    7. 16.6 Securities Markets
    8. 16.7 Buying and Selling at Securities Exchanges
    9. 16.8 Trends in Financial Management and Securities Markets
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  18. 17 Your Career in Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 17.1 Learn the Basics of Business
    3. 17.2 Developing Interpersonal Skills Is Key to Your Success
    4. 17.3 Make Your Future Happen: Learn to Plan
    5. 17.4 Going to College Is an Opportunity of a Lifetime—Never Drop Out
    6. 17.5 Get Your Career Off on the Right Track
    7. 17.6 Self-Test Scoring Guidelines
  19. A | Understanding the Legal and Tax Environment
  20. Index
  21. References
  1. How does the Federal Reserve manage the money supply?

Before the twentieth century, there was very little government regulation of the U.S. financial or monetary systems. In 1907, however, several large banks failed, creating a public panic that led worried depositors to withdraw their money from other banks. Soon many other banks had failed, and the U.S. banking system was near collapse. The panic of 1907 was so severe that Congress created the Federal Reserve System in 1913 to provide the nation with a more stable monetary and banking system.

The Federal Reserve System (commonly called the Fed) is the central bank of the United States. The Fed’s primary mission is to oversee the nation’s monetary and credit system and to support the ongoing operation of America’s private-banking system. The Fed’s actions affect the interest rates banks charge businesses and consumers, help keep inflation under control, and ultimately stabilize the U.S. financial system. The Fed operates as an independent government entity. It derives its authority from Congress but its decisions do not have to be approved by the president, Congress, or any other government branch. However, Congress does periodically review the Fed’s activities, and the Fed must work within the economic framework established by the government.

The Fed consists of 12 district banks, each covering a specific geographic area. Exhibit 15.3 shows the 12 districts of the Federal Reserve. Each district has its own bank president who oversees operations within that district.

Originally, the Federal Reserve System was created to control the money supply, act as a borrowing source for banks, hold the deposits of member banks, and supervise banking practices. Its activities have since broadened, making it the most powerful financial institution in the United States. Today, four of the Federal Reserve System’s most important responsibilities are carrying out monetary policy, setting rules on credit, distributing currency, and making check clearing easier.

The map is sectioned into 12 districts, and one city within each district is noted. District 1 is the New England states, and the city noted is Boston. District 2 is New York state, and the city noted is New York City. District 3 is made up of New Jersey, and the eastern half of Pennsylvania, and the city noted is Philadelphia. District 4 is made up of Ohio, the north eastern portion of Kentucky and the western portion of Pennsylvania; the city noted is Cleveland. District 5 is made up of Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D C. The city noted for district 5 is Richmond. District 6 is made up of the eastern half of Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, the southern half of Mississippi, and the southern half of Louisiana. The city noted in district 6 is Atlanta. District 7 is made up of the southern half of Michigan, the northern half of Indiana, the northern half of Illinois, and Iowa. The city noted for district 7 is Chicago. District 8 is made up of Missouri, much of Kentucky, Arkansas, and the northern portion of Mississippi. The city noted in district 8 is Saint Louis. District 9 is made up of Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the northern portion of Michigan. The city noted in district 9 is Minneapolis. District 10 is made up of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and the very northern portion of New Mexico. The city noted in district 10 is Kansas City. District 11 contains Texas, the northern portion of Louisiana, and the remaining portion of New Mexico. The city noted in district 11 is Dallas. District 12 is made up of Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Alaska. The city noted for district 12 is San Francisco.
Exhibit 15.3 Federal Reserve Districts and Banks Source: “Federal Reserve Banks,”, accessed September 7, 2017.

Carrying Out Monetary Policy

The most important function of the Federal Reserve System is carrying out monetary policy. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the Fed policy-making body that meets eight times a year to make monetary policy decisions. It uses its power to change the money supply in order to control inflation and interest rates, increase employment, and influence economic activity. Three tools used by the Federal Reserve System in managing the money supply are open market operations, reserve requirements, and the discount rate. Table 15.3 summarizes the short-term effects of these tools on the economy.

Open market operations—the tool most frequently used by the Federal Reserve—involve the purchase or sale of U.S. government bonds. The U.S. Treasury issues bonds to obtain the extra money needed to run the government (if taxes and other revenues aren’t enough). In effect, Treasury bonds are long-term loans (five years or longer) made by businesses and individuals to the government. The Federal Reserve buys and sells these bonds for the Treasury. When the Federal Reserve buys bonds, it puts money into the economy. Banks have more money to lend, so they reduce interest rates, which generally stimulates economic activity. The opposite occurs when the Federal Reserve sells government bonds.

The Federal Reserve System’s Monetary Tools and Their Effects
Tool Action Effect on Money Supply Effect on Interest Rates Effect on Economic Activity
Open market operations Buy government bonds Increases Lowers Stimulates
Sell government bonds Decreases Raises Slows Down
Reserve requirements Raise reserve requirements Decreases Raises Slows Down
Lower reserve requirements Increases Lowers Stimulates
Discount rate Raise discount rate Decreases Raises Slows Down
Lower discount rate Increases Lowers Stimulates
Table 15.3

Banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System must hold some of their deposits in cash in their vaults or in an account at a district bank. This reserve requirement ranges from 3 to 10 percent on different types of deposits. When the Federal Reserve raises the reserve requirement, banks must hold larger reserves and thus have less money to lend. As a result, interest rates rise, and economic activity slows down. Lowering the reserve requirement increases loanable funds, causes banks to lower interest rates, and stimulates the economy; however, the Federal Reserve seldom changes reserve requirements.

The Federal Reserve is called “the banker’s bank” because it lends money to banks that need it. The interest rate that the Federal Reserve charges its member banks is called the discount rate. When the discount rate is less than the cost of other sources of funds (such as certificates of deposit), commercial banks borrow from the Federal Reserve and then lend the funds at a higher rate to customers. The banks profit from the spread, or difference, between the rate they charge their customers and the rate paid to the Federal Reserve. Changes in the discount rate usually produce changes in the interest rate that banks charge their customers. The Federal Reserve raises the discount rate to slow down economic growth and lowers it to stimulate growth.

Setting Rules on Credit

Another activity of the Federal Reserve System is setting rules on credit. It controls the credit terms on some loans made by banks and other lending institutions. This power, called selective credit controls, includes consumer credit rules and margin requirements. Consumer credit rules establish the minimum down payments and maximum repayment periods for consumer loans. The Federal Reserve uses credit rules to slow or stimulate consumer credit purchases. Margin requirements specify the minimum amount of cash an investor must put up to buy securities or investment certificates issued by corporations or governments. The balance of the purchase cost can be financed through borrowing from a bank or brokerage firm. By lowering the margin requirement, the Federal Reserve stimulates securities trading. Raising the margin requirement slows trading.

Distributing Currency: Keeping the Cash Flowing

The Federal Reserve distributes the coins minted and the paper money printed by the U.S. Treasury to banks. Most paper money is in the form of Federal Reserve notes. Look at a dollar bill and you’ll see “Federal Reserve Note” at the top. The large letter seal on the left indicates which Federal Reserve Bank issued it. For example, bills bearing a D seal are issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and those with an L seal are issued by the San Francisco district bank.

Making Check Clearing Easier

Another important activity of the Federal Reserve is processing and clearing checks between financial institutions. When a check is cashed at a financial institution other than the one holding the account on which the check is drawn, the Federal Reserve’s system lets that financial institution—even if distant from the institution holding the account on which the check is drawn—quickly convert the check into cash. Checks drawn on banks within the same Federal Reserve district are handled through the local Federal Reserve Bank using a series of bookkeeping entries to transfer funds between the financial institutions. The process is more complex for checks processed between different Federal Reserve districts.

The time between when the check is written and when the funds are deducted from the check writer’s account provides float. Float benefits the check writer by allowing it to retain the funds until the check clears—that is, when the funds are actually withdrawn from its accounts. Businesses open accounts at banks around the country that are known to have long check-clearing times. By “playing the float,” firms can keep their funds invested for several extra days, thus earning more money. To reduce this practice, in 1988 the Fed established maximum check-clearing times. However, as credit cards and other types of electronic payments have become more popular, the use of checks continues to decline. Responding to this decline, the Federal Reserve scaled back its check-processing facilities over the past decade. Current estimates suggest that the number of check payments has declined by two billion annually over the last couple of years and will continue to do so as more people use online banking and other electronic payment systems.3

Managing the 2007–2009 Financial Crisis

Much has been written over the past decade about the global financial crisis that occurred between 2007 and 2009. Some suggest that without the Fed’s intervention, the U.S. economy would have slipped deeper into a financial depression that could have lasted years. Several missteps by banks, mortgage lenders, and other financial institutions, which included approving consumers for home mortgages they could not afford and then packaging those mortgages into high-risk financial products sold to investors, put the U.S. economy into serious financial trouble.4

In the early 2000s, the housing industry was booming. Mortgage lenders were signing up consumers for mortgages that “on paper” they could afford. In many instances, lenders told consumers that based on their credit rating and other financial data, they could easily take the next step and buy a bigger house or maybe a vacation home because of the availability of mortgage money and low interest rates. When the U.S. housing bubble burst in late 2007, the value of real estate plummeted, and many consumers struggled to pay mortgages on houses no longer worth the value they borrowed to buy the properties, leaving their real estate investments “underwater.” Millions of consumers simply walked away from their houses, letting them go into foreclosure while filing personal bankruptcy. At the same time, the overall economy was going into a recession, and millions of people lost their jobs as companies tightened their belts to try to survive the financial upheaval affecting the United States as well as other countries across the globe.5

In addition, several leading financial investment firms, particularly those that managed and sold the high-risk, mortgage-backed financial products, failed quickly because they had not set aside enough money to cover the billions of dollars they lost on mortgages now going into default. For example, the venerable financial company Bear Stearns, which had been a successful business for more than 85 years, was eventually sold to JP Morgan for less than $10 a share, even after the Federal Reserve made more than $50 billion dollars available to help prop up financial institutions in trouble.6

After the collapse of Bear Stearns and other firms such as Lehman Brothers and insurance giant AIG, the Fed set up a special loan program to stabilize the banking system and to keep the U.S. bond markets trading at a normal pace. It is estimated that the Federal Reserve made more than $9 trillion in loans to major banks and other financial firms during the two-year crisis—not to mention bailing out the auto industry and buying several other firms to keep the financial system afloat.7

As a result of this financial meltdown, Congress passed legislation in 2010 to implement major regulations in the financial industry to prevent the future collapse of financial institutions, as well to put a check on abusive lending practices by banks and other firms. Among its provisions, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (known as Dodd-Frank) created an oversight council to monitor risks that affect the financial industry; requires banks to increase their cash reserves if the council feels the bank has too much risk in its current operations; prohibits banks from owning, investing, or sponsoring hedge funds, private equity funds, or other proprietary trading operations for profit; and set up a whistle-blower program to reward people who come forward to report security and other financial violations.8

Another provision of Dodd-Frank legislation requires major U.S. banks to submit to annual stress tests conducted by the Federal Reserve. These annual checkups determine whether banks have enough capital to survive economic turbulence in the financial system and whether the institutions can identify and measure risk as part of their capital plan to pay dividends or buy back shares. In 2017, seven years after Dodd-Frank became law, all of the country’s major banks passed the annual examination.9

A photo shows dollar bills bundled and wrapped in $100 dollar amounts.
Exhibit 15.4 The Federal Reserve kept short-term interest rates close to 0 percent for more than seven years, from 2009 to December 2015, as a result of the global financial crisis. Now that the economy seems to be recovering at a slow but steady pace, the Fed began to raise the interest rate to 1.00–1.25 percent in mid-2017. What effect do higher interest rates have on the U.S. economy? (Credit: ./ Pexels/ CC0 License/✓ Free for personal and commercial use/✓ No attribution required)

Concept Check

  1. What are the four key functions of the Federal Reserve System?
  2. What three tools does the Federal Reserve System use to manage the money supply, and how does each affect economic activity?
  3. What was the Fed’s role in keeping the U.S. financial markets solvent during the 2007–2009 financial crisis?
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