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Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)

File Photo: Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)
File Photo: Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) File Photo: Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)

What exactly is the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), a component of the Federal Reserve System (FRS), oversees open market operations to determine the monetary policy of the United States. The committee comprises seven members of the Board of Governors, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the presidents of four other eleven reserve banks, who take turns serving on the group.

Understanding the FOMC

The 12 FOMC members meet eight times yearly to deliberate near-term monetary policy decisions. A vote to modify policy would result in purchasing or selling U.S. government assets on the open market to boost the economy. Members are usually hawks who prefer tighter monetary policies, doves who advocate stimulus, or centrists or moderates who are in between.

The FOMC chair is also the Board of Governors chair. The board now consists of:

  • Jerome Powell, the chair, was reelected for four years on May 23, 2022. This was his first term, starting in February 2018. Powell is moderate.
  • FOMC Vice Chair John Williams He became New York Fed president in 2018.
  • Other Fed Board members include Michelle Bowman, Michael Barr, Lisa Cook, Philip Jefferson, and Christopher Waller.

All 12 Federal Reserve districts have their banks. These regional banks are central bank extensions. Presidents of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York serve continuously. In contrast, the others serve one-year terms on a three-year rotating cycle (except Cleveland and Chicago, which rotate for two years).

One Reserve Bank president from each of the following groups always serves on the FOMC’s one-year rotating seats:

  • Boston, Philadelphia, and Richmond
  • Cleveland and Chicago
  • St. Louis, Dallas, and Atlanta
  • Kansas City, Minneapolis, and San Francisco

Meetings of the FOMC

The FOMC meets eight times yearly, although they might meet more often if needed. Wall Street experts speculate on whether the Fed would tighten or relax the money supply and raise or lower interest rates at the private sessions.

FOMC minutes have been released after meetings in previous years. Regular FOMC meetings cause Fed interest rate changes, as reported in the press.

The gathering covers local and worldwide financial market trends and economic and financial projections. The Board of Governors and all 12 Reserve Bank presidents discuss the country’s economic outlook and the best monetary policy. After extensive debate, only designated FOMC members vote on a period-appropriate policy.

Activities of the FOMC

The Federal Reserve can increase or decrease the money supply. OMOs, discount rates, and bank reserve requirements accomplish this. The Fed’s Board of Governors sets the discount rate and reserve requirements, while the FOMC handles OMOs, which involve purchasing and selling government securities. The Fed sells government securities to tighten the money supply and reduce bank deposits.

FOMC-purchased securities are put in SOMA, the Fed’s domestic and international portfolio. The overseas portfolio holds euros and Japanese yen, while the domestic portfolio holds U.S. Treasury and government agency assets.

The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and the Monetary Control Act of 1980 allow the FOMC to keep or sell these securities until maturity. Each of the 12 regional reserve banks holds a portion of the Fed’s SOMA assets, but the Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducts all open market transactions.

The SOMA manager sends the meeting outcomes to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York trading desk, which trades government securities on the open market until the FOMC mandate is satisfied.

All Fed’s policy tools work together to determine the federal funds rate or the overnight rate at which depository institutions lend their Federal Reserve balances. The federal funds rate directly affects short-term rates and indirectly affects long-term interest rates, foreign exchange rates, credit supply, investment, employment, and economic output.

Special Considerations

The Federal Open Market Committee reiterated its “Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Policy Strategy” on January 31, 2023.

The FOMC is committed to meeting Congress’s mission to maximize employment, maintain stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates. The Federal Open Market Committee can set a long-term inflation objective since monetary policy sets it. The FOMC reiterated its conclusion that a 2% target inflation rate best met its statutory mandate in the statement.

What does the FOMC do?

The FOMC controls monetary policy through open market operations. The 12-member committee is the Fed’s main economic policy body. It determines the Fed’s short-term goal for buying and selling assets, the fed funds rate, which affects other interest rates.

Are the FOMC and Fed the same?

The FOMC is not the Fed. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Fed handles exclusively open market activities. The Fed Board of Governors chooses the discount rate and reserve requirements.

The FOMC meets how often?

The FOMC meets eight times a year.

The outcome

The FOMC manages open market operations to formulate monetary policy for the Federal Reserve. With this, the Fed affects the fed funds rate, which affects other interest rates. The FOMC does this to limit or grow the economy, depending on market circumstances.


  • Federal Open Market Committee is a Fed branch.
  • The FOMC directs open market operations to set monetary policy.
  • The committee includes seven Board of Governors members and five Fed presidents.
  • It holds eight annual meetings that Wall Street speculates about.
  • Fed Board. “About the FOMC.”


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