Fed policy actions in 2011 included implementing a second round of quantitative easing (QE2), launching "Operation Twist," announcing that it was keeping the fed funds rate at 0 percent to 0.25 percent through mid-2013, maintaining the size of its balance sheet.
The Atlanta Fed built and launched the Inflation Dashboard and the Business Inflation Expectations survey. Inflation was a significant research focus in 2011.
The Regional Economic Information Network continued to expand grassroots information gathering. In particular, regional executives established relationships with leaders of the top 50 employers in their zones and began regular roundtable meetings with bankers.
The Federal Reserve Board selected the Atlanta and Cleveland Feds to lead the State and Local Government Financial Monitoring Team (Muni-FMT) for the Financial Stability Oversight Council. The Muni-FMT identifies trends in state and local fiscal conditions, borrowing, and pensions that could destabilize the financial system.
The Atlanta Census Research Data Center (U.S. Census Bureau entity), one of only 10 in the country, opened at the Atlanta Fed.
The Atlanta Fed held eight major policy/research conferences exploring timely topics including entrepreneurship during recovery, employment and education, innovation, the new financial landscape, and green development and finance.
Supervision and regulation
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (or the Dodd-Frank Act) took effect in July 2011. An early, significant effect of the act for the Atlanta Fed was its added supervisory duties for 46 thrift holding companies, the largest of which is St. Petersburg, Florida-based Raymond James, with $15 billion in assets.
The Supervision and Regulation Division continued restructuring its department. It instituted forward-looking examinations and general macroprudential regulation and added staff in areas of need.
The payments industry continued its migration toward the electronic. The 2010 Federal Reserve Payments Study, released in 2011 for data through 2009, found that more than three-quarters of all U.S. noncash payments in 2009 were electronic. By contrast, the 2007 payments study revealed that roughly two-thirds of noncash payments were electronic.
Industry innovation continued to explode—for example, big banks formed a joint venture to compete with PayPal. As a result of dynamic innovation, the Retail Payments Office (RPO) continued to track and gauge the effects of rapid change.
To keep abreast of industry changes, the RPO undertook major initiatives to upgrade efficiency and relevance.
The Nashville cash operation moved to a third-party depot arrangement. The Nashville Branch cash operations closed at the end of July. A small staff focused on gathering economic intelligence and providing economic education outreach remains.
The Atlanta-based RPO achieved cost recovery for both check and FedACH services, as required by the Monetary Control Act.
Atlanta Fed President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Lockhart gave about two dozen speeches in 2011. Major themes of the speeches included downward revisions in the economic outlook, unemployment, vulnerability to shocks, rebalancing (fiscal adjustments, deleveraging, public pension reform), shoring up the financial system, inflation, and general economic uncertainty.
Podcasts and videocasts covered such general economic topics as community development and real estate, and many others.
Other events presented by the Atlanta Fed included Public Affairs Forums featuring distinguished speakers on the economics of sports and retirement planning.
The Atlanta Fed launched its YouTube channel. The channel has more than 70 videos or video segments that range from Financial Markets Conference speeches and interviews to videos with President Lockhart, and from Public Affairs Forum interviews to Classroom Economist videos.
The Financial Education group conducted 126 teacher workshops for teachers from 768 high schools. The group also made 123 presentations to local, state, and national teacher conferences, reaching 4,359 teachers who in turn reach 327,000 students.
The renovated Check 21 work area at the main office in Atlanta earned LEED designation, a prestigious green building and design certification.
The Atlanta Fed celebrated 10 years at its 1000 Peachtree St. headquarters.
The employee volunteer program celebrated its 15th anniversary.
The employee-founded and funded nonprofit, Charity Parity, celebrated its 65th anniversary.
Charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations hit the $4 million mark.