What happens inside the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis building?

MINNEAPOLIS — This weekend, more than 80 venues across Minneapolis will open up their doors to the public. It’s all part of its Doors Open weekend event, where the public will be able to explore places they generally can’t go.

One of those spots is the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, a big building with 1100 employees that sits near the Mississippi River downtown. So, what happens inside that building? Good Question. 

“Interest rates are part of what we do here,” said Neel Kashkari, President & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, one of twelve regional Fed banks across the country. “But we do a lot more than that.”

In the basement of the building is a giant vault filled with billions of dollars in cash. Cameras aren’t allowed inside the vault, which is guarded around the clock by lots of security. The Federal Reserve Bank supplies money to banks throughout the district, which includes Minnesota, Montana, the Dakotas, and parts of Michigan and Wisconsin. It functions like a bank for the banks.

“We have Brink trucks coming to and from our bank all day bringing old currency to us,” said Kashkari. “We sort it and replace it with new currency to make sure people have the cash they need.”

With more than $90 million passing through the Fed in Minneapolis each day, they need to make sure all of the currency isn’t counterfeit. For every dollar that comes in, there are machines that examine it closely for stripes, watermarks, and signs the bill is real.

On the seventh floor is where the local researchers — many of them economists — do their work to get a pulse on the regional economy. They survey businesses, look at who’s hiring, how long it takes for supplies to move, and more. This kind of information from each of the regional Fed banks helps to determine the nation’s monetary policy in Washington, D.C.

“We have a team of economists who help me analyze the regional economy and the national economy to try to determine where do we think interest rates could go to bring inflation back down and keep the job market sound,” Kashkari said.

One of the most important responsibilities of the Federal Reserve and its regional banks is to supervise banks, especially at a time when the Fed has taken criticism in the wake of failing regional banks. That department will analyze things like what kinds of loans the banks are making.

“Are they making smart loans, are they being cautious with your money,” said Kashkari. “It’s your savings and we want to be sure that they’re making good investments with your money.”

And, finally, if someone visited the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on a tour or at this weekend’s Doors Open event, they could leave with a baggie of shredded cash or sit on a chair filled with $1.7 million of shredded currency.  It’s old money that’s worn out and no longer usable, so the Fed shreds it and replaces it with new currency.