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Issue #21 | November 27, 2018

Recently, from the Cleveland Fed

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    When it comes to protecting your money and personal information, you want a team in place that’s just as savvy as the cyberattacker whose goal it is to disrupt bank operations and breach data security. Although commercial banks have their own protective procedures, the Federal Reserve also has a national team in place to analyze hacker methods and monitor attacks on the financial sector. What can you do to protect yourself? See the story, infographics, and videos.

  • Cleveland Fed president takes policy message to New York

    Cleveland Fed president takes policy message to New York

    Cleveland Fed president Loretta J. Mester took to the road recently to speak to two groups of financial professionals. She appeared before the Forecasters Club in New York City on October 24. The next day, she spoke to the Money Marketeers of New York University, Inc. Mester told the group, “From the perspectives of the Fed’s goals of maximum employment and price stability, the US economy is doing very well.” Read her complete speech.

Ask the Expert


Why did the Cleveland Fed form a Community Advisory Council, and how will we use the information its members provide?

Mary Helen:

I have to tell a story. Immediately after our new Community Advisory Council (CAC) had met for the first time, I was getting into the elevator with several members, and one said, “It’s really cool: We all have different perspectives.” And I said, “That’s by design. We want those different perspectives.”

We formed the council to have an ongoing, systematic way to engage with and learn from key stakeholders who represent low- and moderate-income populations and communities in our District. The Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors has a CAC, and several Federal Reserve Banks have had success with different versions of community councils, too.

Our council’s members come to the table with different perspectives and expertise, which makes for very rich discussions. Just in the initial meeting, topics ranged from housing in Kentucky to collateral sanctions for people who’ve been incarcerated, or those punishments that come after one’s release from an institution including not being able to find employment. I think community development practitioners, including those of us in the Cleveland Fed’s Community Development Department, are in the business of opening up access, and access can mean lots of things—opportunities in the workforce and for education, for example. What the council’s discussion brought home is that we need to think more deeply about barriers. Many of them, because they are structural and longstanding, may be in our blind spot.

We plan for the CAC to meet twice a year, focusing on macroeconomic trends that impact low- and moderate-income communities such as changes in wages and employment opportunities. At these meetings, we also will take a deeper dive into specific topics. At the first meeting, the topic was debt and consumers’ ability to pay their bills. Our department also will share its plans for its direction to get council members’ input. Do our strategies make sense? Can they think of a better way of our achieving what we intend to do?

Low- and moderate-income people make up a significant portion of our population, and what happens to them has significant repercussions for our economy. People should know what’s going on with the underserved. If we can figure out how the economy is impacting lower-income and underserved people and what roadblocks they are encountering, then we may find ways to suggest to mitigate them. The goal is to incorporate more people into the regional economy more equitably. The community development function throughout the Federal Reserve System is responsible for getting insight and intelligence about the issues that are impacting disadvantaged populations and communities. This council is another very big and important tool to do this.

Mary Helen Petrus

Mary Helen Petrus

is an assistant vice president in the Cleveland Fed’s Community Development Department. She oversees the department’s outreach and public engagement activities such as meetings with stakeholders and public programming across the region the Bank serves.

Graphic of the Month

Play our most popular online game!

Escape from the Barter Islands, our updated online game that teaches students about the value of money and trading, is now available in English and Spanish.

Play our most popular online game!

By the Numbers

On the Calendar

  • July 14–December 6

    Volatility Smile 3 (Cleveland, OH)
    Contemporary art by Philip Vanderhyden on display at the Cleveland Fed Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm

  • November 29–30

    Financial Stability: Markets and Spillovers (Washington DC)

  • February 6, 2019 (5–8 pm EST)

    Teacher Town Hall (Pittsburgh, PA, and Cincinnati, OH)
    High school and college educator and student workshop and a live video conference with Federal Reserve System Chair Jerome Powell

  • 2019 Federal Reserve Community Development Research Conference

    May 9–10, 2019

    2019 Federal Reserve Community Development Research Conference (Washington DC)

  • Policy Summit 2019

    June 19–21, 2019

    Policy Summit 2019 (Cincinnati, OH)

From around the Federal Reserve System

Economics of food: science, biotechnology, obesity, and scarcity

The saying goes “you are what you eat,” but in reality we eat what we can afford and have access to. Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic sat down with the head of the agricultural economics department at Purdue University, Jayson Lusk, to discuss the tradeoffs that come with increasing the production of foods; how science, technology, and innovation affect the availability of foods; and how distribution, poverty, and obesity can be related.

Economics of food: science, biotechnology, obesity, and scarcity

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