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Federal Open Market Committee

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The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is charged under the law with overseeing open market operations, the principal tool of national monetary policy. (Open market operations are the buying and selling of government securities.) The Committee sets monetary policy by specifying the short-term objective for those operations, which is currently a target level for the federal funds rate (the rate that commercial banks charge on overnight loans among themselves). The FOMC also directs operations undertaken by the Federal Reserve in foreign exchange markets, although any intervention in foreign exchange markets is coordinated with the U.S. Treasury, which has responsibility for formulating U.S. policies regarding the exchange value of the dollar.

The Federal Open Market Committee consists of twelve voting members: the seven members of the Federal Reserve Board and five of the twelve Federal Reserve Bank presidents. The New York Reserve Bank president always sits on the Committee, and the other presidents serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. The rotating seats are filled from the following four groups of Banks, one Bank president from each group: Boston, Philadelphia, and Richmond; Cleveland and Chicago; Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas; and Minneapolis, Kansas City, and San Francisco.

All of the Reserve Bank presidents, even those who are not currently voting members of the FOMC, attend the meetings of the Committee, participate in the discussions, and contribute to the Committee's assessment of the economy and policy options. The Committee meets eight times a year.


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