This is a special post in two parts on the U.S. Federal Reserve System. It is in response to the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Part 2 will be published on November 6, and the next regularly scheduled reply on the crisis of the dollar system will be published on November 20.
The last weeks in the United States have seen a sudden surge of anti-Wall Street demonstrations that have targeted the policy of the U.S. government of “bailing out banks and not people.” The occupation movement has since spread first across the United States and now the world.
The followers of Ron Paul, a right-wing Republican congressman and presidential primary candidate from Texas, have appeared at some of the occupations and raised the slogan “End the Fed.” Paul believes that not only “the Fed” but democracy in any form should be abolished. Paul’s followers blame the Federal Reserve System for virtually all the problems faced by the lower 99 percent—high unemployment, the high cost of living, mass indebtedness, “underwater” homes, and foreclosures.
But what actually is the Fed, or to use its formal name, the Federal Reserve System? Is it some kind of privately owned bank, or is it a government agency? What is the difference between the Federal Reserve Board and a Federal Reserve bank? Is the Fed really to blame for the problems of the lower 99 percent of the population? And if the answer is yes, why would such an evil institution have been established in the first place?