Print Friendly

The Fed Explained

Do you ever wonder what the Federal Reserve really does, or why it focuses on certain aspects of the U.S. economy? In one convenient location, the Fed Explained offers a range of content that explains the role of the Federal Reserve System and helps a general audience understand the fundamentals of the economy.

Using vibrant graphics and plenty of examples, engaging animated videos describe basic economic concepts such as inflation and gross domestic product as well as the structure and functions of the Fed. Additionally, the "Econ 101" section provides brief written analyses of current economic topics. And FedFAQ allows users to get answers to questions about the Fed by searching on key words or categories.

The Fed Explains the Payments System
Like a circulatory system for the economy, the U.S. payments system facilitates the flow of money between buyers and sellers. The latest in the Atlanta Fed's animated video series explores the Fed's role in keeping our monetary circulatory system healthy.


  • Other topics
  • Videos
  • FAQs
  • Publications

Other topics

The Fed Explains Good versus Bad StandardsThe Fed Explains Good versus Bad Standards
Standardized measurements help us communicate about things that need to be exact, such as time and distance. The latest in the Atlanta Fed's animated video series highlights the importance of consistent standards and explains how the Fed keeps our standard measure of value—the U.S. dollar—stable.

 The Fed Explains Regional BanksThe Fed Explains Regional Banks
This installment in the Atlanta Fed's award-winning series explains how the Federal Reserve's decentralized structure helps the central bank form a "big picture" view of the U.S. economy. Learn how each of the 12 regional Reserve Banks contributes to national monetary policymaking.

 The Fed Explains the Central BankThe Fed Explains the Central Bank
The fourth in a series of animated videos about the Federal Reserve focuses on the origins, structure, and functions of the U.S. central bank. The video uses lively graphics and straightforward examples to explain the history of the Federal Reserve System and how its three main functions help foster a stable financial system and a growing economy.

The Fed Explains the Unemployment RateThe Fed Explains the Unemployment Rate
The latest in a series of videos focused on economic issues and the Federal Reserve looks at the labor force, the unemployment rate, and other key labor market indicators. Engaging graphics and real-life examples help explain who makes up the labor force and how the unemployment rate is calculated, along with the factors that make this rate fluctuate.

The Fed Explains Real Versus Potential GDPThe Fed Explains Real Versus Potential GDP
The second in a series of videos on economic issues and the Federal Reserve focuses on gross domestic product, or GDP. Engaging graphics and straightforward examples help define total output and explain the difference between real and potential GDP.

The Fed Explains InflationThe Fed Explains Inflation
The first in the Atlanta Fed's video series on economic issues and the Federal Reserve focuses on inflation. In an engaging animated format, this brief video defines inflation and the price level and explains the difference between inflation and cost-of-living price increases.


The Classroom Economist features video and PowerPoint content designed to clarify and enhance teacher understanding of core economic and Federal Reserve topics. This content provides lesson demonstrations and resource ideas to help teachers bring the economic topics to life in the classroom.

Monetary Policy: Part Art, Part Science is a free video-based series that accompanies the Monetary policy starts in your own back yard curriculum. The video series describes how interest rates are determined as part of the broader Monetary Policy curriculum.


Looking for quick answers? Here, we answer some frequently asked questions ranging from the structure and functions of the Fed to consumer and general information. For answers to more in-depth questions, you can use FedFAQ, which allows you to search by keyword or categories.

For a more in depth range of questions, you can view the FedFAQ utility that allows you to search by key word or by categories.


Econ 101
Within the pages of EconSouth, the Atlanta Fed's regional economics magazine, "Econ 101" succinctly explores current economics topics and covers concepts such as household formation and inflation targeting.

Federal Reserve Structure and Functions
This brochure outlines the organizational structure of the Federal Reserve System and describes the Fed's major functions, including the formulation of monetary policy, bank supervision and regulation, and services to depository institutions and the federal government. The booklet also gives a short history of the Federal Reserve's evolution and explains the significance of central bank independence.

A History of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: 1914–1989
This book provides a detailed review of the Bank's first 75 years. Through personal recollections and official bank records, author Richard H. Gamble recounts the Atlanta Fed's evolution in response to developments in the region, nation, and financial services industry.

Paying for It: Checks, Cash, and Electronic Payments
This brochure provides information about the most common methods of making payments and describes the Federal Reserve's role in the nation's payment system. The document describes how checks and electronic payments work and discusses how currency is processed and distributed. 2006. Available only online.