History of the FDIC

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What independent agency of the United States government celebrated its 75th birthday on June 16, 2008?

If you said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), you’re right.

The FDIC has been in the news recently due to the temporary increase in deposit insurance from $100,000 to $250,000. But the agency got its start during the Great Depression under the Banking Act of 1933, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed on June 16 of that year.

The FDIC was set up to insure the safety of bank depositors’ savings and to prevent the panic runs on banks that helped fuel the depression. To that end, deposit insurance went into effect seven months after the Banking Act was signed, with a limit of $2,500 Coverage was increased to $5,000 in the summer of 1934, and the FDIC became a permanent government agency in 1935.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Act of 1950 gave the FDIC additional duties. Among other responsibilities, the agency conducts bank examinations, making sure banks are in compliance with fair lending laws and regulations. It also evaluates economic conditions and trends, monitors the stock and commodities markets, home sales and business activity, and identifies potential bank and savings and loan failures.

Headquartered in Washington DC, the FDIC today has six regional offices, two area offices and more than eighty field offices in various US cities and states. Approximately 4,500 people work in seven divisions, which are overseen by a Board of Directors consisting of a chairperson and four other people. Sheila Bair is the present chairperson.

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