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Fed representative talks to Rotarians

The Rotary Club of Lincolnton welcomed a special guest at Monday’s meeting. Ron Barnes of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond was present to discuss the various functions of the Federal Reserve System, a topic of particular interest during the current economic climate.

Prior to beginning his presentation, Barnes stressed that he is “not an economist” and would, therefore, not be making any predictions regarding the future state of the economy.

Instead, he provided background information on how the Fed came to be and what its functions are in the nation’s ever-changing financial landscape.

He made sure to point out that the Fed was designed to have autonomy from the political structure and was not to succumb to political pressures.

He discussed its responsibility to provide banking services to both its depository institutions and to the federal government, for which it also acts as a fiscal agent.

Barnes also laid out the Fed’s role in setting the nation’s monetary policy through goals of maximum employment, price stability and moderate, long-term interest rates.

During a time for questions following the conclusion of his speech, Barnes was asked about the necessity of the Fed, in reference to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s recent remarks about the institution while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.

Barnes said it became apparent to people long ago that “someone needed to be monitoring and making sure we have good monetary policy.”

In response to a question about credit becoming more unattainable, he said that he thinks everyone is “a little less credit-worthy than we were five years ago.”

Barnes was also asked about the book “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve” by G. Edward Griffin and responded that there were “a lot of myths about the Federal Reserve” — many of which he has found to be unsubstantiated.

He ended by saying that Fed employees are just like everybody and want the best for the country.

Barnes, who grew up in Rockingham and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before getting his master’s in business at UNC-Charlotte, has spent 16 years with the Fed.

For almost 12 of those years, he has been serving as the senior manager of reserve accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which has branches in Richmond, Va., Baltimore, Md., and Charlotte, where he is based.

Staff Writer

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