What is the Federal Open Market Committee?

The FOMC is the central bank's branch that determines the direction of monetary policy

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve stepped in to slash interest rates to near-zero as part of a sweeping response to the brewing crisis.

The decision to lower the benchmark federal funds rate to a range of 0 percent to 0.25 percent was voted upon by the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's branch that determines the direction of monetary policy.


Thecommittee usually is comprised of 12 members: the seven members of the Fed's board of governors; the president of the New York Federal Reserve (John Williams is currently in this position) and four of the remaining 11 district Fed bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. The chairman of the committee is the head of the U.S. central bank, Jerome Powell.


There are two vacancies on the Fed's seven-member board, meaning the committee has fewer members than is typical.

This year's four rotating seats are filled by: Robert Kaplan of Dallas, Neel Kashkari of Minneapolis, Loretta Mester of Cleveland and Patrick Harker of Philadelphia.


The committee holds eight meetings each year, during which members review and discuss economic and financial conditions, determine and vote on the appropriate stance of monetary policy, and assess the risks to the Fed's long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth.