How the Fed Responded to the 9/11 Attacks
The Fed’s most important job during a crisis is to keep money available. But when the unthinkable happens, moving money can become a logistical nightmare in an instant. On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists crashed two airplanes into New York City's World Trade Center. This video explains how the Federal Reserve responded immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
For a more detailed account, see our article: The Federal Reserve's Response to the Sept. 11 Attacks.
Transcript: The Central Bank Keeps Money Flowing
Narrator: The Fed's most important job during a crisis is to keep money available. Imagine if our ATMs ran dry. Yet, when the unthinkable happens, moving money can become a logistical nightmare in an instant.
Tom Baxter, General Counsel, New York Fed: We're here, not 500 feet from where the Trade Center stood and I remember it — even though it was more than 10 years ago — like it was yesterday.
Roseann Stichnoth, Executive Vice President, New York Fed: The biggest challenge you have after something like this as a central bank is you want to prevent a massive human crisis from becoming an economic and financial one as well.
Narrator: On the day of the attack, the Fed issued a simple press release telling the world they were open and operating. They would keep money flowing.
Stichnoth: What you're really trying to do is make sure that people can still live their lives. Cash is available. They can use checks. They can use debit cards.
Baxter: One of the things that happened in the late afternoon on September 11, as this mass exodus took place, they would go to ATM machines and take out cash.
Fed employee: We were asked by management to get over a little over a billion dollars cash into the city from East Rutherford. Everything was closed, obviously, at that time — highways, bridges. So we made a caravan to bring us over the bridge, and then that money could be brought to a facility that could break it down and send it to all the ATMs and get done what needed to be done.
Baxter: The after effects of the strike on the towers could have been so much worse. One of our base duties was to make sure there wasn't the destruction of confidence in this financial heart of the United States.
The Fed and Times of Crisis videos
- Lesson Learned: The Panic of 1907
- The Fed Responds to the 9/11 Attacks
- The Fed Responds to Hurricane Katrina
- The Fed Responds to the Financial Crisis