Title: Financial Markets Center
Access: http://www.fmcenter.org/

The Financial Markets Center Web site provides an extensive amount of information on the Federal Reserve System and its relationship to the financial markets. Maintained by a nonprofit organization, the site presents a range of useful information from a basic description of the structure and function of the Federal Reserve System to meeting schedules and transcripts. The site also includes useful background information and tools to foster understanding of the role of interest rates in the economy.

The site gathers all public information on the Federal Reserve System in one place through its links to public documents, explanatory documents, and relevant public Web sites. It also brings together commentaries, analyses, and predictions forecasting the operations of the Reserve System. Given the less than open day-to-day operations of the Fed, this site supports public understanding of the workings of this important part of government.

The site is divided up very simply into three general areas: "Departments," "Topics," and "What's New(s)." "Departments" includes general overviews, newsletters, research materials, relevant links, and Federal Reserve archives. In the "Topics" area, four subjects (monetary policy, reserve banks, financial markets, and regulatory issues) are covered with links to documents and other Web sites. "What's New(s)" gives a brief overview of the latest news from the Reserve System and links to documents and Web sites discussing the ideas further.

Other features of the site include a keyword search option that did not perform well when I did a simple search on "weekend rate cut" that was covered in the "Topics" section. On the other hand, I did a second search on "margin debt" and received fifteen, relevant links to articles on the Web site. E-mail notification is another option the user can choose for notification of site updates.

The Financial Markets Center is an attractive, straightforward site that coherently presents and connects an array of specialized information. Anyone interested in federal monetary policy and the mechanics of interest rate operations will find this site helpful, whether it's the average citizen wondering, "what the Fed is up to" or the financial professional seeking the latest meeting transcript. The only drawback to the site is its ineffective search capability, which is important with such a large amount of information, regardless of its simple design. Financial Markets Center is a highly recommended source for past and current information on the Federal Reserve System.

Colleen Lougen Mount Saint Mary College lougen@msmc.edu


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