Central to advancing economic knowledge, community development and fair access to credit
In difficult economic times, it’s more important than ever for the Fed to help people understand what it does and to inform them about the sometimes-volatile economy. The St. Louis Fed offers many programs and tools to accomplish this goal. Bank programs reach out to not just the general public, but also to bankers, business leaders and government officials.
Bankers and business leaders get up-to-date information by attending the St. Louis Fed’s economic forums. The Bank’s president talks about regional and national economic issues, while bankers and business leaders provide information about the local economy. The Bank also organizes Industry Councils that bring together experts on real estate, agriculture, health care and transportation.
This exchange of information supports the macroeconomy by providing anecdotal information about economic trends and conditions that the Bank president can use when making decisions about monetary policy.
SOME OTHER 2008 HIGHLIGHTS IN THIS AREA INCLUDED:
- The Bank’s speeches to nonacademic audiences increased by 170 percent over 2007. The largest increase occurred in the fourth quarter.
- Web site hits to the Bank’s economic research, including data and information services, rose from more than 60 million in 2007 to more than 100 million in 2008.
- The Bank launched a web site to keep the public informed of ongoing events and policy actions regarding the nation’s current financial crisis (http://timeline.stlouisfed.org).
- The Bank began publishing the Burgundy Books every quarter. Modeled after the Fed’s Beige Book, the Burgundy Books focus on local economic conditions in the Eighth District. The Bank’s economists have also published original research on topics such as light rail, gambling, personal bankruptcy and foreclosure.
- The Bank hosted “bankers breakfasts” addressing regulatory and financial markets topics and hosted an event for Eighth District state bank commissioners and members of their staff.
Public Affairs hosted eight briefings for government and congressional staff members.
- The Bank hosted its first “Dialogue with the Fed” program in November as a way to brief business and community leaders on the state of the economy. These programs have now expanded to the Bank’s branch locations.
- The St. Louis Fed partnered with local TV station KETC Channel 9 on a community engagement initiative called Facing the Mortgage Crisis that is making a significant impact on the region and will serve as a model for public media organizations nationwide. Through the partnership, KETC delivered messages on air, online and in the community that directed citizens to resources through the United Way 2-1-1 call service. This collaborative effort is averting foreclosures in the St. Louis area and connecting thousands of residents to housing and financial resources. Calls to the 2-1-1 number increased about 400 percent during the pilot project.
Two other important components of Bank outreach are economic education and community development. One of the most successful education projects was the development of a multilesson plan curriculum on the Great Depression. The curriculum is targeted at high school students and includes a teacher’s guide, puzzles, graphics, video interviews and timelines.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR INCLUDED:
- Posting 26 audio files of Beige Book, Burgundy Books and Regional Economist articles to the public web site. Approximately 47,000 visitors listened to these files.
Working with more than 30 organizations and institutions to provide programming for educators and hosting more than 500 educators at the annual educators conference, titled “The ABCs of Personal Finance.” The conference was held in locations throughout the District.
- Producing the “It’s Your Paycheck” curriculum and making it avail-able on the Bank’s web site. Economic education also piloted an online course for students, “GDP and Pizza: Economics for Life.”
- Bringing together experts on innovation in community development by sponsoring “Exploring Innovation in Community Development Week.”
Producing and distributing approximately 23,000 copies of the Foreclosure Survival Guide and developing a Foreclosure Resource Center on the Bank’s web site.