federal reserve

5 major moments in Federal Reserve history

Highlights of the central bank's history
Highlights of the central bank's history © Triff/Shutterstock.com

Federal Reserve members may be able to shake up the economy in the short time it takes to issue a statement, but they tend to do that in the most careful, unexciting way possible.

"These are the very serious, boring people you knew in college," jokes John C. Edmunds, finance professor at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. "They don't like parties, they don't like surprises, they go to bed at 9 o'clock and they only drink mineral water."

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They might not be the liveliest bunch, but the characters who make up the central bank have wielded power over the financial lives of Americans for almost 100 years.

Comprised of a Board of Governors, a Federal Open Market Committee and 12 regional banks, the Fed monitors inflation and unemployment, regulates banks, and raises and lowers interest rates. And when the Fed speaks, it can affect your wallet.

Here are five key moments in the Fed's history chosen by Allan H. Meltzer, Carnegie Mellon University professor and author of "A History of the Federal Reserve." Find out about the recession you've never heard of, the Fed's B.O. problem, the rise of "Darth Volcker" and more.

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