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Glossary
Reserve Banks and Policy

Reserve Banks carry out the Fed's policies at a regional level. Day to day, the Banks execute the banking and consumer protection laws enacted by Congress and the regulatory policies adopted by the Board of Governors. The Reserve Banks also play a critical role in bringing local economic perspectives to the national arena.

For example, an economist at a Reserve Bank may learn of the anticipated expansion or shutdown of a major local employer. Such news will obviously affect the local economic outlook, but will it have an effect on the national economy? The economist's expertise and her familiarity with the region can help policymakers — such as the Reserve Bank presidents — evaluate the extent of the impact of the major employer's business decision on the local economy.

Reserve Banks publish research, articles and economic forecasts that people who live in their district might find useful. Here is a link to the publications page of the St. Louis Fed. Contact your local Reserve Bank for information about its publications. You can find all the economic research publications across the Federal Reserve System at Fed in Print.

Also, because Reserve Bank staff members interact directly with local bankers — examining their books and offering financial services — they are knowledgeable about the effects of national policies on local banks and can funnel that information to the Board of Governors.

The Reserve Banks do much more than just add regional perspectives, though. The Banks also contribute to the ongoing exchange of ideas across the Federal Reserve System that allows the Fed to make better policy. This tradition of independent thought is one of the strengths of the Fed's decentralized structure.

To learn more about the twelve Federal Reserve Districts, click here.