On 23 December 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act creating the US central bank which this month celebrates its 100th birthday.
Created in the wake of the financial panics of the early 20th Century and in the teeth of deep suspicion of centralised power, it is now perhaps the most powerful financial institution on the planet.
The BBC was granted rare access to the Federal Reserve’s inner sanctum – just a stone’s throw from the White House.
It is here that a small group of unelected economists gather to take decisions which have profound implications for citizens in the US and beyond.
The financial crisis of 2008 probably did more than anything to make the Fed, its powers and its chairman, Ben Bernanke, familiar to people around the world, but it was just the latest episode in 100 years of crisis management.
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