Federal Reserve Law and Legal Definition

The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, was founded by Congress in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system. The Federal Reserve's duties fall into four general areas:

  1. conducting the nation's monetary policy;
  2. supervising and regulating banking institutions and protecting the credit rights of consumers;
  3. maintaining the stability of the financial system; and
  4. providing certain financial services to the U.S. government, the public, financial institutions, and foreign official institutions.

In addition to monetary policy responsibilities, the Federal Reserve Board has regulatory and supervisory responsibilities over banks that are members of the System, bank holding companies, international banking facilities in the United States, Edge Act and agreement corporations, foreign activities of member banks, and the U.S. activities of foreign-owned banks. The Board also sets margin requirements, which limit the use of credit for purchasing or carrying securities.

Another area of Board responsibility is the development and administration of regulations that implement major federal laws governing consumer credit such as the Truth in Lending Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the Truth in Savings Act.