A Note from Senior Vice President Mike Johnson
Since joining the Atlanta Fed as senior vice president of supervision and regulation at the start of 2010, following many years within the Federal Reserve System, I've had the opportunity to observe even more closely the work of the Atlanta Fed's Americas Center. As described in this Annual Review, the Center had another outstanding year as its staff and external partners collaborated on a range of programs and activities related to four key themes:
- Enhancing service while reducing the costs of payment processing within the Americas
- Broadening and deepening access to consumer banking products and services as well as financial education through community outreach programs
- Through important working relationships with regulatory partners, doing our part to further build the effectiveness of best practices for U.S. and region-wide consolidated supervision
- Improving our understanding of the economic, financial, and political dynamics driving change in the Americas through various research initiatives and forums
To highlight some of the Americas Center's key accomplishments, we have made progress in responding to increasing customer demand for low-cost, efficient cross-border payment vehicles. For example, FedGlobal® ACH Payments now offers a broad array of services to an increased number of countries in Latin America and Europe. As for banking supervision, we have purposefully built, over 15 years, a track record of continuous, consistent, and collaborative multilingual foreign technical assistance programs in an expanding variety of supervisory disciplines to central banks, banking superintendencies, and multilateral organizations throughout the region. Underpinning all of our work are ongoing efforts to better understand individual country and regional fundamentals and their interaction with global developments. In this regard, it goes without saying that the Center could not fulfill its core mission without the active interest and participation of our many external partners representing academia, financial institutions, regulatory and governmental agencies, and community groups.
These working relationships are fundamental to the Center's overall success as we look forward to a new year of exciting work in 2011. One upcoming initiative is our consumer banking conference, Strengthening the Financial Safety Net in Emerging Markets. Amid robust economic growth in Latin America there is untapped potential within the unbanked and underbanked populations. Here in the United States, we are also interested in bringing more individuals into mainstream and closely regulated financial institutions and away from alternative service providers. It is our intent that these meetings and other work supporting our strategic themes will serve to promote sound financial education, provide low-cost financial service alternatives, improve the penetration of useful banking products and services, and foster more institutional and personal financial stability and economic development.
From its inception in 2005, the Americas Center has been a clearinghouse of ideas. So, as interested as we are in having you read the 2010 Americas Center Annual Review, we are equally interested, if not even more interested, in engaging with you about your ideas to further the work of the Americas Center. I hope this Annual Review helps to stimulate your ideas, so please contact us any time. We look forward to hearing from you.