MessagE from Management
Now, it’s our turn. In the previous pages, Chairman Engelhardt shared his thoughts on Bill Poole, as did past chairmen and a few of Mr. Poole’s colleagues around the Federal Reserve System. And, of course, our past president himself offered his reflections in the main essay. We, the Bank’s senior management team, would also like to express our appreciation to President Poole for his wise guidance and counsel over the last decade.
The Bank is a much different place than it was when we welcomed Mr. Poole in 1998. In the past 10 years, as changes have occurred both inside and outside the Federal Reserve, we have remained agile enough to develop new capabilities and skillful enough to emerge as a System leader in several areas.
Mr. Poole saw the need for the Bank to, in a sense, redefine itself. For example, our check operations at all four offices had historically performed very well. But that didn’t change an environment that witnessed more and more people switching to electronic forms of payment—a trend that the Federal Reserve has encouraged. As we have reduced, and continue to reduce, our check operations, we have bolstered areas of the Bank that Mr. Poole liked to refer to as our “intellectual presence.”
By that, he meant sharing our knowledge about the economy, monetary policy and personal finance with traditional and nontraditional audiences alike. We are doing this throughout our District through programs like economic forums, education workshops, and meetings with bankers and business, government and community leaders. Bill Poole was an ardent supporter of these efforts and traveled both far and frequently to meet with the Bank’s constituents. During the past decade, we have also greatly enhanced the already formidable amount of economic data on the Research portion of the Bank’s web site. We are currently in the process of revamping the rest of our web site and plan to launch the new site later this year.
Chairman Engelhardt touched on the St. Louis Fed’s relationship with the U.S. Treasury. That is certainly true. We are extremely proud of the partnership we have forged with the Treasury in recent years. In 2007, the Fed’s Treasury Relations and Support Office, based in St. Louis, continued to provide effective monitoring and support for the System’s Treasury-related objectives. In addition, our District’s Treasury operations were awarded additional Treasury responsibilities in 2007, ensuring that the District will continue to be a leading Reserve bank in terms of serving the U.S. Treasury.
The District’s banking supervision function last year successfully met all safety and soundness, consumer affairs, and applications processing mandates, and provided effective supervision and monitoring of District state member banks and bank holding companies. In addition, the District continued to expand its supervisory portfolio.
Despite all of these positive developments, we have also been forced to make some difficult decisions in recent years. Restructuring decisions in departments like Check, Cash and even Treasury have lowered our employment levels in those areas. We had to bid farewell to many dedicated, talented employees. Perhaps there used to be a feeling here that the Federal Reserve was immune to employment pressures that private companies routinely face. That is no longer the case.
As we prepare to welcome a new president to the St. Louis Fed, we are excited about taking on the challenges that lie ahead. It is clear that Mr. Poole left the Bank solidly positioned to face the continuing evolutions in the economy, the banking sector and the Federal Reserve System.