15.1 Show Me the Money
- What is money, what are its characteristics and functions, and what are the three parts of the U.S. money supply?
Money is anything accepted as payment for goods and services. For money to be a suitable means of exchange, it should be scarce, durable, portable, and divisible. Money functions as a medium of exchange, a standard of value, and a store of value. The U.S. money supply consists of currency (coins and paper money), demand deposits (checking accounts), and time deposits (interest-bearing deposits that cannot be withdrawn on demand).
15.2 The Federal Reserve System
- How does the Federal Reserve manage the money supply?
The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) is an independent government agency that performs four main functions: carrying out monetary policy, setting rules on credit, distributing currency, and making check clearing easier. The three tools it uses in managing the money supply are open market operations, reserve requirements, and the discount rate. The Fed played a major role in keeping the U.S. financial system solvent during the financial crisis of 2007–2009 by making more than $9 trillion available in loans to major banks and other financial firms, in addition to bailing out the auto industry and other companies and supporting congressional passage of Dodd-Frank federal legislation.
15.3 U.S. Financial Institutions
- What are the key financial institutions, and what role do they play in the process of financial intermediation?
Financial institutions can be divided into two main groups: depository institutions and nondepository institutions. Depository institutions include commercial banks, thrift institutions, and credit unions. Nondepository institutions include insurance companies, pension funds, brokerage firms, and finance companies. Financial institutions ease the transfer of funds between suppliers and demanders of funds.
15.4 Insuring Bank Deposits
- How does the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protect depositors’ funds?
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures deposits in commercial banks through the Bank Insurance Fund and deposits in thrift institutions through the Savings Association Insurance Fund. Deposits in credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is administered by the National Credit Union Administration. The FDIC sets banking policies and practices and reviews banks annually to ensure that they operate fairly and profitably.
15.5 International Banking
- What role do U.S. banks play in the international marketplace?
U.S. banks provide loans and trade-related services to foreign governments and businesses. They also offer specialized services such as cash management and foreign-currency exchange.
15.6 Trends in Financial Institutions
- What trends are reshaping financial institutions?
There will be a continued focus on regulatory and compliance issues, especially after the recent financial crisis, as well as on operational efficiency and technological advances. Banks will continue to tackle customer engagement and technology initiatives, as consumers will control more than 85 percent of their ongoing relationships with banks and other financial institutions. Fintech services will continue to disrupt the banking industry and will enable some banks to increase innovation and streamline operational efficiencies. Mobile financial apps will continue to provide banks with a strategic advantage, as well as enable them to collect and utilize customer data as part of their overall business strategy. Finally, online payment platforms will play an integral role in the banking and financial sector, as consumers’ expectations continue to drive innovation in the banking industry.