Website of the Month: Federal Reserve

Article excerpt

The website of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, at www.federalreserve. gov, provides access to educational and other information developed by the Federal Reserve, as well as other resources related to the central bank of the United States. The Federal Reserve system was created in 1913 as a network of 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, which are the operating arms of the central bank, under the oversight of the Board of Governors. The Federal Reserve manages U.S. monetary policy, regulates banks, provides financial services such as clearing checks and processing electronic payments, conducts economic research, and disseminates economic information.

The Federal Reserve Board conducts original research on a variety of topics, and it provides access to data summaries and reports on the website. Many are obviously written for the general public and are easy to read. Accounting professionals will find this website useful in providing guidance to financial institution clients and employers, as well as general information for their practices and personal finances.

The main and home webpages use a common main menu in the header to organize the primary sections of the website: "about the Fed," "news & events," "monetary policy," 'banking information & regulation," "payment systems," "economic research & data," "consumer information," "community development," "reporting forms," and "publications." The main pages also present section-specific indexes. Both home and main pages highlight particular resources on the website. The homepage provides quick links to recent statistical releases and principal economic indicators.

One nice feature of the website is the links above the banner header to "what's new," "what's next," "site map," an "A-Z index," 4fFAQs," and "careers." What's new covers items posted to the website in the past two weeks, other than regular statistical releases. What's next is resources expected to appear within the next two months. The site map essentially summarizes the main page indexes in one location, but in some cases provides additional information. The A-Z index is very handy if users are searching for a specific topic.

Financial Services Professionals

The primary section "about the Fed" provides substantial background information on the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Open Markets Committee, along with materials on currency and the Federal Reserve Act. Contact information is available for the Federal Reserve Board, the 12 banks, and the 22 branches, and includes street addresses, telephone numbers, directors' names, and links to individual websites. The "about" section also presents links to the Federal Reserve Banks Services and Federal Reserve Education websites, along with 10 related sites, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Thrift Supervision, and various foreign central banks.

"Currency" offers information on the new $100 bill that was originally scheduled to be issued on February 10, 2011. Resources include an article on how to know if a currency note is real, and listings of personnel contacts at the Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the U.S. Secret Service. Training materials for cash handlers can be accessed via a link to www.newmoney.gov.

The Federal Reserve Act is available in webpage format. An index provides hyperlinks to the 31 individual sections of the law, with detailed references to the U.S. Code and a handy print function. A list of frequently requested phone numbers is provided, including the Inspector General Hotline and Treasury Direct.

A free, 146-page booklet titled, The Federal Reserve System: Purposes and Functions, can be downloaded by individual chapters or in PDF format as a complete publication. The chapters cover monetary policy, international issues such as foreign currency and banks, supervision and regulatory responsibilities of the Federal Reserve, consumer protection, and the U. …