Class #1: The History and Importance of the Federal Reserve (1.5 CE)


The first class explains the 232-year history of central banking in the United States. It begins by recounting the rise and fall of the first two central banks in the early 1800s, which reveals why the Federal Reserve was established and why it serves as an essential foundation of the U.S. financial system.

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The second half of the class explains the significance of several key events in the Federal Reserve’s history and how each event shapes current policy. The four key events are: the Great Depression (1930s), the Great Inflation (1965-1981), the Global Financial Crisis (2008-2009), and the COVID-19 Financial Crisis and Aftermath (2020-2023).


Key Learning Objectives

  1. The four functions of a modern central bank (currency stability, bank regulation, lender of last resort, and monetary policy).
  2. The Lessons from the Four Banking Eras (First & Second Bank, Wildcat Banking, National Banking, and Federal Reserve Eras)
  3. Key Challenges for the Federal Reserve in the 2020s