A visit to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta proves to us, and hopefully our audience, that a simple interest in math and technology can lead to a wide variety of career opportunities. While we take a fun and loose approach to this institution, Teachable Moments are truly insightful. They include a description of what the Federal Reserve is and does, a discussion of the gold standard, exactly what gives money its value, and more.
FAST FORWARD: FEDERAL RESERVE
VO: Hallways! Hallways! Hallways!
And filing cabinets. And boardrooms. And work stations with eagle puzzles!
It's the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, where we're shredding money!
No, literally. That's part of what we do here!
We've got water fountains!
WHITNEY: I almost never get thirsty at the office!
VO: And meetings!
LUIS: I've got a conference call in 3 minutes!
VO: And moderate dress codes!
BLAKE: Sometimes at work I get to wear a fun hat!
VO: It's the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta! Monitoring the nation's money supply, keeping prices stable and employment at a maximum! Employing twelve hundred people, nine to five, Monday through Friday! Friday! Friday!
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 366 during leap years, including weekends and holidays. Your results may vary.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta-you've gotta be there!!!
VO: Today Fast Forward is at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and while it might not have all the excitement of a monster truck show, the truth is that they do some pretty cool stuff here, like printing our nation's money!
MARK: We don't actually print the money here at the Federal Reserve. That's a common misconception.
VO: Then who does?
BLAKE: The bureau of engraving and printing is actually responsible for carrying out the printing function for bills and coins.
VO: Okay, score one for you guys.
What about the chocolate coins? Do they make those here?
ANDREW: Yes, this is where they make the chocolate coins.
LUIS: No, I think they make that at the Willy Wonka factory.
VO: Yeah, makes CENTS. (NERVOUS LAUGH) So this isn't where money is born. But it is where money comes to die, right?
MARK: We do shred money actually. I believe we shred to the tune of $10 million a day?
VO: When paper bills become too old and worn out to survive in the rough and tumble world of high finance, this is where they're taken out of circulation.
WHITNEY: Makes great confetti.
VO: And anyone in Atlanta can stop by and see it for themselves, and even pick up a souvenir shredded dollar bill. BUT--!!!
LUIS: If you get a bag of shredded money and try to piece it together you're not going to be able to use it because I tried it one time. There was a stamp that says VOID. Study instead and find a more legitimate way to make the money.
VO: Wait, you really did this?
LUIS: I was that poor. I really pieced one together in high school.
VO: The good news is that as an employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, you are poor no more.
VO: And is paper money really made out of paper?
ANDREW: I don't even know what the paper money's actually made out of. I'm going to guess hemp?
BLAKE: Paper money is actually made out of cotton and linen.
VO: Okay. Other than shredding money, what does the Federal Reserve do?
ANDREW: The role of the fed reserve as our country's central bank is to control the amount of money in circulation in the economy. We do this to ensure stability in prices and hopefully employment as well.
BLAKE: In addition to that, The Federal Reserve will also perform research on economy and produce reports that influence a lot of the decision makers throughout the country.
VO: Oh, I think I get it. It's about how our money is tied to the gold standard, right?
ANDREW: The US is currently not on the gold standard. And by gold standard I mean an arrangement where you can exchange your paper currency for gold on demand. And we have not been on the gold standard in a sense since the 1930's after the great depression. So we're not on the gold standard now.
VO: If that's the case, then what gives money its value?
ANDREW: If you believe that the currency is worth what you're willing to exchange it for in goods or services when you go to a shop, that's what gives money its value.
VO: Okay, you guys really know your stuff. So let's test you: name as many people on paper money as you can. Go!
BLAKE: George Washington-and I think that probably taps it out...yeah I know...sad right?
WHITNEY: Salmon P. Chase, Benjamin Franklin, Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, she's helping me...
VO: Wait. Who the heck was Salmon P Chase?
WHITNEY: Salmon P Chase was the first Secretary of the Treasury. He's on the 10,000 bill. It's currently not in circulation. It was used to go in between banks themselves.
VO: Not bad. But you're clearly not as good at this as you are at math.
BLAKE: In high school, if you can believe it or not, I was horribly inept in math. I would have been surprised in 8th grade if you told me I'd be using math at all. BIG LAUGH. In any capacity, I never thought I'd be using math on a daily basis for my job or career choice.
VO: Okay, that's one guy. But I doubt most people really use all that math they learn in school.
WHITNEY: I know a lot of kids believe that I'm never going to use math on a daily basis. But as you get older you realize math is around you every day and it's really important to understand it.
VO: And what if math and I just don't get along?
ANDREW: The biggest obstacle you'll face in learning math and science is your own fear - don't be intimidated by it. It is not a gift. You're not born with it. You can learn math and science. You gain momentum. The more you learn in math and science the easier it is to learn more things in math and science.
VO: So maybe there's nothing wrong with being a math nerd...
LUIS: I'm a nerd and I think I'm pretty cool.
VO: But just in case, what other kind of jobs are there at the Federal Reserve?
WHITNEY: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has over 1200 jobs here and a wide variety of career paths.
ANDREW: You could work at cash processing.
MARK: Legal department...
ANDREW: The IT dept.
MARK: We have Public Affairs...
ANDREW: Supervision and regulation department...
MARK: ...which does deal with math quite a bit.
VO: Nice. So let's get to it. What's the best thing about working here?
ANDREW: The coolest thing about working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is that it's an important public institution. Just having the place I work be on the news at night or in the news paper is fun for me cause I feel like I'm involved in something bigger.
VO: I get that. And speaking of something bigger, how do I go about getting my picture on some of that paper money?
WHITNEY: Well, running for president would be a good start.
ANDREW: Become president and do something special. Being president is not enough.
BLAKE: If you want your picture on money that would take an act of Congress.
(END TITLE SEQUENCE) VO: Sweet. I'll get to work on it. But until then, we'll see you on the next episode of Fast Forward.