The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The Outreach & Education function engages, empowers and educates the public in the Second District. Our outreach mission furthers the Bankâ€™s commitment to the region by listening to the communities we serve and developing programs, analysis and sponsored conferences and clinics to help meet their needs. Our education mission aims to advance public knowledge about the Federal Reserve System and its role in the economy.
Prior to 1876, there was fierce competition among engraving firms and private bank note companies for contracts to print U.S. Treasury bank notes. Then, in 1877, congressional legislation established the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) as the exclusive printer of U.S. government currency.
Does the Federal Reserve or the government care about pocketbooks? Not literally pocketbooks (except perhaps for the role of handbag manufacturing in the economy). But yes, if “pocketbook” is meant to refer to the spending capacity of the country’s citizens. It is easy to find phrases like this opening statement in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Monthly Review for October 1968: “In 1967, the consumer emptied his pocketbook of more than $492 billion on various goods and services.” A more recent article in the Wall Street Journal put it this way: “One worry, however, is that rising food and energy prices could hit households in the pocketbook and make them less willing to spend on other goods and services, weakening the recovery.” The budget of the U.S. government for 2009 proposed that “total discretionary spending rise no faster than the size of the economy, to prevent day-to-day government spending from consuming an even larger share of the nation’s pocketbook.” “Nation’s purse” is more commonly used in reference to government spending, whereas “nation’s pocketbook” refers to consumer spending. (In Britain, they actually use the phrase “nation’s handbag.”)
Lauren DiCioccio, a mixed media artist, sews (in the sense of embroiders) money. She has created a remarkable Colombian 5,000 peso bill, a Hong Kong 20 dollar bill, a 10 euro bill, and various versions of U.S. paper currency (when it was still just green). Her creations cannot be used as legal tender and, although quite realistic, could never be confused with legal tender—She leaves the uncut colored threads hanging out from behind each piece as if to say, Yes! This is sewing!
In a May 2014 Historical Echoespost, Marja Vitti describes what happened to money too old to be left in circulation: it was incinerated by the Federal Reserve Banks until passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970, after which the money was shredded. Paper money incineration by a Federal Reserve Bank employee was the subject of a hilarious broadcast of the famous TV quiz show What’s My Line? In this broadcast, which aired on June 12, 1960, Thomas Hull, in charge of burning the money for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, steps onto the set, writes his name on the chalkboard, and when asked by John Daly, the show’s host, where he comes from, needs to repeat “Lake Ronkonkoma, New York” three times before he is understood clearly. You might think that this is why Mr. Daly answers so many of the panelists’ questions himself rather than letting Mr. Hull answer them. But you’d be wrong—he does this for pretty much every contestant to ensure that communications are clear and the game remains fair.
We’ve already talked about clams being used as money as late as 1933, but some genuine clam shells found during the construction of the New York Fed’s building at 33 Liberty Street sparked both geological interest and many witty remarks about “clams” being fossilized under a bank.
Caricatures of Alan Greenspan and Warren Buffett in the National Portrait Gallery? Are we hearing correctly? The National Portrait Gallery indeed collects and has great respect for caricatures. The Gallery had a 1998 exhibition and post entitled “Celebrity Caricature in America.” Caricature is quite an old art form: According to Werner Hofmann’s 1957 “Caricature from Leonardo to Picasso,” caricature in the Western world dates back to Leonardo da Vinci. Caricatures of bankers and financiers have been around probably as long as bankers and financiers.
There are many methods by which financial institutions can ready themselves for worst-case scenarios: they participate in the federal deposit insurance system, they follow a variety of banking regulations, and they prepare for natural disasters, for starters. But what about bank robberies, which typically strike their targets with little or no warning?
St. Mary’s Bank was the first credit union created in the United States, in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1908. A website honors both the centennial of the institution and the credit union concept. A small museum (see article about its opening) was created near the site of the credit union, which is still functioning.
Why do we associate pieces of eight with pirates? Perhaps it has to do with the role of the phrase “pieces of eight” in one of the greatest pirate adventures in literature, Treasure Island* (Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883). It’s Captain Flint the parrot, belonging to the pirate Long John Silver, who’s continually screaming “pieces of eight!” The last few sentences of the book read:
The bar silver and the arms still lie, for all that I know, where Flint buried them; and certainly they shall lie there for me. Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island; and the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: “Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!”
“The trouble with money,” said a Federal Reserve Bank of New York publication in the 1960s, “as with all material things in the world, is that it does not last forever.” The Federal Reserve has the important task of adding liquidity to the market, but did you know that it is also responsible for removing money—literally—through currency destruction? U. S. currency is made of 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton, which makes it pretty durable, but even so, currency is removed from circulation at a surprising rate. Each denomination of notes has its own life cycle, and $1 bills, for example, have to be replaced every 5.9 years or so.
Liberty Street Economics invites you to comment on a post.
We encourage you to submit comments, queries and suggestions on our blog entries. We will post them below the entry, subject to the following guidelines:
Please be brief: Comments are limited to 1500 characters.
Please be quick: Comments submitted more than 1 week after the blog entry appears will not be posted.
Please try to submit before COB on Friday: Comments submitted after that will not be posted until Monday morning.
Please be on-topic and patient: Comments are moderated and will not appear until they have been reviewed to ensure that they are substantive and clearly related to the topic of the post. The moderator will not post comments that are abusive, harassing, or threatening; obscene or vulgar; or commercial in nature; as well as comments that constitute a personal attack. We reserve the right not to post a comment; no notice will be given regarding whether a submission will or will not be posted.