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Econ Club visits Seattle Fed

Student trip sponsored by the Department of Economics

The UO’s Economics Club took a field trip to the Seattle Branch of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank in late January. Econ Club member Jeff Naber was one of the 15 or so students who made the trip.

FedGroup2“When we arrived we passed through two security checkpoints—one outside before we could even park our cars, and one inside the building itself,” Naber recalls. “Cameras were not allowed inside the building; we even had to leave our cell phones in our cars.”

The first part of the visit included displays that traced the history of the Seattle Fed, which was relocated from its downtown Seattle location about 10 years ago to undeveloped land previously owned by Boeing. They also saw samples of the largest currency denominations, including a rare $10,000 bill, which was only used for inter-bank transfers before electronic funds transfers became commonplace.

Next, they learned the role of the Seattle fed, which is to collect information about the regional economy for the Fed to use in determining monetary policy, and to collect, store, and distribute currency from the member banks.

sightseeingSeattleThe group toured the facility with an escort of police guards, after being relieved of purses and coats, and reminded repeatedly not to put their hands in their pockets for any reason. They viewed the receiving room, where armored trucks unload bins of money for sorting.

“At one point one of the employees held up two stacks of money, and our guide pointed out that we were looking at $1 million. Just being held up by one dude,” says Naber. “It was weird.”

Weird, too, was the group’s view inside the vault, which Naber said looked like “a Costco full of bins of money.”

Lastly, the group viewed the processing room, where money is examined to see if it is real and fit for re-circulation, or counterfeit and/or too damaged to circulate. Each group member received a bag of shredded currency as a souvenir.SeattlePikePlace

Afterward, the members made the 15-minute drive to downtown Seattle for sightseeing and exploring the city’s iconic spots, such as Starbucks and Pike Place Market.

The Economics Club’s Seattle Fed trip was sponsored by the Department of Economics, which paid for lodging and travel costs for the group. To learn more about the UO Economics Club, you can visit the club’s Facebook wall.